An award-winning, tense, psychological drama, Black Narcissus was written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, two of the most influential and acclaimed film-makers of all time. Sumptuously shot in Technicolor by Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff and showcasing a career-defining performance from Deborah Kerr, Black Narcissus is featured here in a High Definition transfer made from original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.
Sister Clodagh leads a group of Anglican nuns to a remote Himalayan range of mountains, there to set up a mission in an abandoned harem. In her first position of authority, she finds both her physical and spiritual limits being stretched as she tries to maintain order and discipline in a claustrophobically hostile environment. The extremes of climate and the peculiar amorality of the local natives all combine to slowly corrupt the women's faith, pushing them further into jealousy, anger and madness...
SPECIAL FEATURES (Standard Definition unless otherwise noted)
 Audio Commentary with Michael Powell and Martin Scorsese
 Original theatrical trailer [HD]
 Painting with Light: a documentary on Jack Cardiff
 A Profile of Black Narcissus featurette
 Extensive image galleries [HD]
 Original promotional material PDFs
 Commemorative booklet
When Bernardo Bertolucci went to the Himalayas to film Little Buddha
, so the anecdote runs, he was disappointed by the scenery. Somehow, the real thing didn't quite live up to what he'd been led to expect by Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus
. It's not hard to see why he felt let down. Their film is almost ridiculously gorgeous--a procession of saturated Technicolor, Expressionist angles, theatrical lighting and overwrought design. It has a good claim to being the high watermark of lushness in the British cinema (and, incidentally, every original foot of it was actually shot in Britain). No wonder it took the Oscar for colour cinematography (shot by Jack Cardiff) as well as for art direction and set decoration (created by Alfred Junge).
Audiences loved it on its first release, but the critics were cooler: hadn't the story been upstaged by the baroque images? Well, probably, but that's not altogether a bad thing, since the plot--quite faithful to Rumer Godden's popular novel --isn't wholly free of corn. A group of five Anglican nuns, led by Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) establish a school and hospital in a former harem among the Himalayan peaks. The wind blows, the drums pound, the Old Gods stir, and one by one the celibate sisters succumb to unchaste thoughts, above all Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron, terrific in the role), so consumed by erotic yearning for the one Englishman in sight (David Farraar) she puts on crimson lipstick, wears her wimple-free tresses like an early Goth and takes a downward turn. (Black Narcissus features the greatest scene involving a nun and a high place this side of Hitchcock's Vertigo and Jacques Rivette's La Religieuse.) Silly, to be sure, but also sublime at times and as curiously entertaining as it is picturesque. --Kevin Jackson
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.