Black Narcissus Review

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While staying in a convent high in the Himalayas, five nuns must battle not only their surroundings, but also their inner demons - particularly envy and lust.


The lush exoticism of the East takes an intoxicating toll on five nuns sent to set up a convent school in the Himalayas in this 1947 masterpiece by the legendary Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Jack Cardiff’s Oscar-winning cinematography — an unsurpassed showcase for the possibilities of Technicolor — heightens the very meaning of the story, as a slash of red lipstick clashes with the bleached white of a nun’s habit to say so much about repressed desires.No amount of CGI could ever capture the dramatic splendour of the beautiful matte paintings that push a church bell — and the nuns’ emotions — right to the edge of a deep and deadly ravine.

Sexual tension hangs in the air as the wind blows and native drums beat, but it’s on a visual level that the film excels.