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Black Narcissus [Blu-ray]


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Product details

  • Actors: Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Jean Simmons, Sabu, Flora Robson
  • Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Producers: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Jun. 2008
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015YY75E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,061 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

A classic Powell/Pressburger tale of sexual awakening based on the Rumer Godden novel. A group of British nuns are sent into the Himalayas to set up a mission in what was once the harem's quarters of an ancient palace. The clear mountain air, the unfamiliar culture and the unbridled sensuality of a young prince (Sabu) and his beggar-girl lover (Jean Simmons) begin to play havoc with the nuns' long-suppressed emotions. Whilst the young Mother Superior, Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), fights a losing battle for order, the jaunty David Farrar falls in love with her, sparking uncontrollable jealousy in another nun, Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron).

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In spite of their patriotism and love of Britain, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger remain the most "un-British" of movie makers. Much of this has to do with the almost hyper-real, super-intensity of their films, in terms of their editing, the soundtracks and their peculiar colour schemes. This is especially the case with Black Narcissus. A group of Catholic British nuns invited by an Indian ruler to open a hospital in the Himalayas. However, the strain of exposure to the elements, to the native culture and to the broody, handsome presence of British agent David Ferrar, tell on the sisters. It's all Deborah Kerr can do to hold on to her vows, as she she is tormented by memories of a lost love in Ireland. Kathleen Byron's more hysterical nun is made of less stern stuff and succumbs, leaving the order and going mad with lust for Ferrar. The final confrontation between the two, maroon Byron versus white Kerr atop a belltower, is reminiscent of Eisenstein and also prefigures the climax to Hitchcock's Vertigo. The (award-winning) cinematography is the true star of this film. --David Stubbs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Erik Aleksander Moe on 29 July 2008
Format: Blu-ray
I have previously bought this wonderful film on laserdisc from Criterion and I have loved it and thought the transfer was good, even though colour strips weren't 100% synced. It has become one of my very favourite movies and the partnership of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger one of my all time favourite director/writer team (Life and Death of Coronel Blimp and the Red Shoes are also totally wonderful).

Before I saw this movie again on this Blu-ray I had no idea that it could as awazing as it did on this release. Not only were the colours even more vibrant than ever, but the detail in the picture was staggering. I can now see all the detail in the walls, costumes and props. Alfred Junge got the Oscar for production design on this movie and it is understandable now more than ever. Everything looked totally breathtaking and I could now, more than ever, understand the distraction and beauty that make the nuns forget what they were doing. This is also thanks to the wonderful photography of Jack Cardiff, who won the Oscar for it. His use of colors and the lighting are nothing short of brilliant. When viewing the film it is hard to believe that everything was shot at Pinewood studios, save for some shots from the English countryside. It is a lesson to filmmakers nowadays that you can make a believable movie totally in the studio.
The documentary "The profile of Black Narcissus" is included and is quite informative and interesting, featuring interviews with several of the people who made it, including Jack Cardiff and Kathleen Byron. Is is presented in 576p, so some people with a TV that doesn't support this resolution may have problems viewing it. The Blu-ray is also region free.
If you haven't seen the movie before and are interested in the old way of moviemaking then I totally recommend this magnificent picture.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Bryce on 14 Aug. 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The film covers the time that a small group of nuns occupy an old house at the top of a chasm in the "east" (I'd guess Tibet). The new convent is to be called "St Faith". The rarified air and stupendous views cause crises for many of the nuns (you knew it would, really) and the film covers their conflicts, internal and external.
Powell & Pressburger have made every image a photograph worth printing - they won an oscar for best Cinematography. The view from the convent is as stunning for us viewers as it for Sister Clodagh (et al). The crises aren't stock ones - they vary from madness (chillingly portrayed) to the gardening nun planting flowers, instead of vegetables.
My favourite scene would be the flashbacks of Sister Clodagh, reliving her life with her fiancé prior to the order. One scene has her calling out his name as she leaves the house and stepping into absolute blackness...
Come back, Powell & Pressburger! We need you
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lollyluvuk@yahoo.co.uk on 5 Jan. 2002
Format: DVD
Deberah Kerr is placed in charge of a crumbling abbey and a handful of difficult nuns on a terribly remote mountain in India. Staunch Christianity and Eastern Mysticism smack reverberatingly against each other, as these supposedly pious and pure nuns struggle against human desires and the pegan seductivesness around them. Deberah Kerr is magnificent and watch for the small supporting role by jean simmons who sparkles as a fallen but temptingly beautiful waif they take in.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Mar. 2002
Format: DVD
This movie deserves it's high reputation, but the film is badly let down by the quality of the transfer. It appears to have been made from a copy which predates the BFI/NFTA restoration of the mid-eighties - which did the film full justice - the colour often looks washed out and the image appears less sharp than one would expect. Best to wait for a new edition, or a Television screening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julian Hughes on 10 Mar. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This 2010 Criterion edition NTSC Region 1 DVD is from a restored high definition transfer. Both the picture and the sound are superb. The picture is pristine. The disc is extremely well presented and comes with a very good booklet. There is a range of truly worthwhile extras on the disc. The quality of this edition is far, far above average in all respects. If you want to see Black Narcissus at its best then get this version or its blu-ray counterpart.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. Feldwick on 7 May 2010
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This Blu-Ray version of BLACK NARCISSUS is truly fantastic. There have been DVD releases in the past in Australia, but they were from ordinary (probably ex TV) masters, so the full vibrancy and colours of this outstanding film were lost. But not now. The added bonus of this release is the terrific 'making of' documentary, which seems to have been made in the last 10 years, bringing back some of the stars and anecdotes of the filming. Great fun which provides an insight into the film-making processes of the time.
If you are interested in film, great story-telling and especially great transfer's of Technicolor productions, just order it, you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By keef on 13 Feb. 2006
Format: VHS Tape
I recall an interview with Deborah Kerr shortly before she died when the interviewer put to her that Black Narcissus was "an erotic film". "Do you think so?", she said. "Good!"
When viewed on the small screen this film does certainly appear to be as visually stunning as "A Matter of Life and Death" and "I Know Where I Am Going" but it also has that ubiquitous little bit of Powell and Pressburger trickery. The Himalayan backdrop is a film set, they never left England to film it! And it won two Oscars for Cinamatography and Art Direction!
The cast includes Flora Robson and Jean Simmons as well as Deborah Kerr but the film is stolen by Kathleen Byron as Sister Ruth. Her descent into madness is chilling and culminates with the bell tower scene, near the end of the film.
What makes this film great is not what is said by the cast but what is not said. The camera lingers just enough on the tortured face of Sister Ruth to let you know that even the most beautiful rose will come with thorns.
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