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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering
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...
Published on 29 July 2008 by Erik Aleksander Moe

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD let down by the transfer
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...
Published on 16 Mar 2002


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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Staggering, 29 July 2008
By 
Erik Aleksander Moe "riddion" (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Visually stunning, 14 Aug 2000
By 
Jonathan Bryce (Kapiti Coast, NZ) - See all my reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb but very human movie, 5 Jan 2002
This review is from: Black Narcissus [DVD] [1947] (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
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD let down by the transfer, 16 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Narcissus [DVD] [1947] (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal restoration, 10 Mar 2011
By 
Julian Hughes (Hove) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Just order this, you won't be disappointed!, 7 May 2010
By 
G. Feldwick "Goldcoastglenn" (Gold Coast, Australia) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually Stunning, 13 Feb 2006
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exellent Blu-ray version, 4 Aug 2014
By 
Mr. A. Smith (notts england) - See all my reviews
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A film like this deserves a good Blu-ray transfer & it got it with this version. The picture is sharp & the colours are vivid. Its hard to believe this was shot at Pinewood studios & not in the Himalayas. I won't say much about film as it has been well covered already. This version is well worth adding to any collection.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Needs the Himalayas When You've Got Pinewood., 31 May 2011
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I have long admired the "Black Narcissus" with it's almost choking atmosphere of high emotions and ethereal beauty. It is simply astonishing to think how long ago it was filmed, and the fact that it was all incredibly filmed within Brittania's shores. Those were the days when improvisation, ingenuity and no little talent were to be found in abundance. The film is set in the Himalayas but the outdoor scenes were actually filmed in the gardens of a retired Indian Officers home, which had many of the plants native to his old home. There are some lovely shots of vividly coloured Camelias, Rhodedendroms and Magnolias in all their glory. Most of the Indian extras were grabbed from the docks at Rotherhithe. The beautiful matte paintings gave the Himalayas an almost mythical "Lord of the Rings" feel, and added much to the character of the film. These paintings are reminiscent of the very finest work the Disney studios created in their earlier years. Who needed to travel to the Himalayas with such talent at your disposal on your very doorstep?

In the film a group of nuns are sent to open a new school and hospital in the Palace of Mopu high in the Himalayas near to Darjeeling. The palace was a former seraglio with murals of the semi naked wives of past rulers adorning the walls in an erotically suggestive manner. The nuns hope to convert some of the locals to their religion but find that the palace begins to exert its own malevolent influence on them. Tensions begin to bubble into a simmering Mount Vesuvius of repressed emotions, ready to explode before the final credits roll. We head to a giddy climax.

The film is based on a book by that excellent writer Rumer Godden who knew a thing or two about the sub continent having lived there in her formative years. The film boasts a strong cast lead by the always watchable Deborah Kerr, who is forever etched in my memory rolling in the surf with Burt Lancaster in "From Here to Eternity". David Farrar is excellent as an alpha male exuding bare chested male virility and tempting our nuns off the straight and narrow. Flora Robson is excellent as always in the role of a nun wracked with doubt. Jean Simmons follows her early success in David Lean's "Great Expectations" as a fetching teenage Indian Lolita. Sabu is her young admirer.

The film contains so many good scenes you tend to lose count, but it is hard to forget Kathleen Byron's moment of high melodrama with Kerr in the films frantic finale. The Palace of Mopu with its ever screaming winds is a brilliantly realised building where phantoms brood and mourn. The sort of place to find in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Jack Cardiff's photography is sublime in this film as it was so often, his use of atmospheric light being particularly strong. Powell and Pressburger have made a little gem with this film, and it is up there with the very best of their fine canon of work. Like Powell's "Edge of the World" this film is oh so very deserving of a good blu-ray release, and it has never looked better under this treatment. Again brought back to vivid life. Nothing really to complain about except........ why, oh why did they build that damn bell in such a stupid place? Where were health and safety when they were needed?
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "He Seems A Difficult Man...You Won't Get Much Help From Him...", 19 Feb 2009
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
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As the muscle-bound-creep whacks the iconic "J. Arthur Rank" gong in the opening credits of "Black Narcissus" - your heart sinks. The print is truly awful. But that soon disappears when you lay eyes on the restored palette of the actual film itself. The remaining credits are steady, clean and amazingly free of scratches and grain. It's a relief to say that this odd - and still strangely unsettling film (based on Rumer Godden's book) - is a triumph on Blu-Ray.

The effect of seeing the painted studio backdrops doubling as the Himalayan mountains and the nun's make up on their supposed unadorned angelic faces is slightly disconcerting at first, but once you get used to it - scene after scene impresses you with the lovely detail - especially if you've a large screen to do the thing justice. I used the 'Smart' mode on my Sony to get it out of its 'square' mode and fill the screen and it wasn't in the least bit stretched or out of place.

Highlights include when the camera first settles on the young and flirtatious Kanchi in her racy Indian attire (played superbly by Jean Simmons) sat on her suitcase outside Sister Cloddagh's mountain convent (played by Deborah Kerr), you actually 'see' how beautiful and striking Simmons was. Or when Kathleen Byron as the lusting Sister Ruth keeps flicking her eyes and thoughts at the semi naked David Farrar as Mr. Dean - you see both of their faces and expressions - and for the first time you actually 'feel' the wild spark coursing through their reserved but tempted British veins. You can imagine how bold this must have been at the cinema in May 1947. Then Byron's beautiful yet deadly face as she emerges wild-eyed at the end of the movie from the convent doors in her civilian clothes - Deborah Kerr on the bell...pretty potent stuff still...

Admittedly, some parts of the scenery seem weak - the washed-out blue of the palace walls, the now obvious matt drawings doubling as the sheer mountain drop by the famous bell... But with the wind and the superb scale of the set, you're almost completely fooled into believing that these out-of-place nuns actually are in sweaty and difficult India - absolutely all of it filmed in Pinewood without every leaving England (except one outside shot).

The audio is old though - and sounds it - but it's acceptable. There's also a 30-minute plus making of called "The Profile Of..." which features interviews and insightful stuff from Kathleen Byron on the abrasive directing ways of Powell and the strong yet serene Kerr, who knew just how to handle him and his bullying.

Having watched a few dogs on Blu-Ray of old films, it's nice to see one that actually benefits from the format. It's absolutely not as good as the BR versions of "Cool Hand Luke", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Zulu" or the early Bond films like "Dr. No" or "From Russia With Love" (where truly exceptional restoration work has taken place), but it's the best this film has ever looked - and for fans of "Black Narcissus" - it's a must buy.
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