Black Narcissus

Starring Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar Jean Simmons and Flora Robson
Written and directed by
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Based on the novel by Rumer Godden
Production year 1947
Running time 100 minutes


  Based on the bestselling book by Rumer Godden this extraordinary melodrama about a group of nuns in a remote valley in the Himalayas is one of the most remarkable British films of the postwar period. It comes from the producer/director duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger whose films include A Matter Of Life And Death, The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom.

  The plot concerns a group of Anglican nuns who are in India to set up a hospital and school but find themselves affected by the sensuality of their surroundings. A local British agent played by David Farrar causes a rift among the group and violent tensions, sexual and otherwise begin to subvert their mission. One of the nuns,  Sister Ruth, is driven to extreme behaviour by the situation...

  Black Narcissus has an exotic and highly unusual look for a British film of this period. The cinematographer Jack Cardiff won an Academy Award of his work on the film as did  Alfred Junge for his production design. The colours in the movie are vivid and vibrant and the lighting intense. The result is a stylised and unforgettable experience which shocked audiences at the time and still astonishes us with its visual power.