Black Narcissus: Turner Classic Movies British Film Guide by Sarah Street

By Sarah Street

Black Narcissus, now heralded as a masterpiece, is a landmark movie within the influential canon of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. With the centenary of Powell's start in 2005 this well timed book--the first committed completely to the film--draws on archival files, unique set drawings and stills to illustrate its notable achievements, either as a creation and as a motor vehicle for concepts. taking a look at the film's enduring photographs of either position and gender, Sarah highway additionally examines Black Narcissus as a masterly technical accomplishment, in addition to a meditation at the finish of empire. taking a look too on the film's debatable reception through foreign critics and censors, and its next impression on experimental filmmakers, road explores problems with process, variety, functionality and interpretation to bare the ongoing relevance of the movie today.

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In this second appearance of the horns we hear them at the same time as the sound of the ringing bell – two sounds, and ways of living – momentarily co-existing in and around Mopu. Perhaps they are in competition: the strident horns indicating Eastern tradition and permanence and the bell that regulates the Sisters’ activities in the same way as it would had they been in their ‘home ’ convent in England. This opening is therefore important in creating a sense of permanence, presented in an assertive and dominating manner: the place, its sounds and traditions are signalled as being inviolable.

Easdale went on to work as musical director on many of The Archers’ subsequent films, including The Red Shoes, for which he won an Academy Award. The shots, editing, creation of tone and mood are therefore holistic, a technique Powell experimented with further in The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). CASTING Mary Morris has already been mentioned as the actress who introduced Powell to the novel of Black Narcissus but who was never cast in her desired role of Sister Ruth. 61 He objected to Byron’s insistence that Ruth was not insane but ‘just a bit intense’.

7 It is ironic that this centrality of place was achievable because of Powell’s decision not to shoot the film in India: the ‘East’ that was compelling, beguiling and seductive was in fact the creation of Western imagination. The principle of centrality is none the less a key element of the film’s realisation of Godden’s vision. A sense of complexity surrounding Mopu is also communicated by the wind that blows through the palace because of its high position. As Godden described in the novel: To step into the house was to step into stillness, into warmth even when it was damp and unlit; but after a moment a coldness crept about your shins.

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