Black Narcissus -Film Club

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Ghost of Harry Smith
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Ghost of Harry Smith » 05 Feb 2008, 07:54

Davey the ____ Boy wrote: The whole thing is so very strange. It is like a Corman film about hot-blooded nuns trapped in a David Lean epic with literary pretentions.


It really is a bit nuts but i think that's why I like it. Well, except for David Farrar's shorts anyway ("pull them down a bit mate, they're up around your ears!" :D )

I know Black Narcissus used to get all the P & P kudos, together with Red Shoes, but don't you think that A Matter of Life and Death and Colonel Blimp are starting to give them a critical run for their money?

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Jeemo
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Jeemo » 05 Feb 2008, 10:24

I have always rated A Matter of Life and Death as their masterpiece
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the masked man
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby the masked man » 05 Feb 2008, 19:23

mentalist wrote:Although it is a very sensory & sensual film, I still don't get a sense of India at all. The film could have been set anywhere suitably gothic, melodramatic and strange. The Archers could have made a brilliant film of a Lovecraft story.


I think that India is, ultimately, little more than a backdrop for the nuns' state of mind - a place where they cling to their repressed mindsets while being thoroughly out of their depth. I think you can read into the film a satire on the folly of empire - the nuns go to a new place, expect to be the centre of a new civilisation that everyone will flock to. They make zero effort to understand India's cultural background, and when it all inevitably goes pear-shaped, they immediately blame the 'primitive' nature of the locals and refuse to examine their own appalling naïvete. I'm struggling here not to make a slightly facile connection with current world events, but it's becoming difficult to resist the parallels...

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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby The Modernist » 05 Feb 2008, 19:36

the masked man wrote:
mentalist wrote:Although it is a very sensory & sensual film, I still don't get a sense of India at all. The film could have been set anywhere suitably gothic, melodramatic and strange. The Archers could have made a brilliant film of a Lovecraft story.


I think that India is, ultimately, little more than a backdrop for the nuns' state of mind - a place where they cling to their repressed mindsets while being thoroughly out of their depth. I think you can read into the film a satire on the folly of empire - the nuns go to a new place, expect to be the centre of a new civilisation that everyone will flock to. They make zero effort to understand India's cultural background, and when it all inevitably goes pear-shaped, they immediately blame the 'primitive' nature of the locals and refuse to examine their own appalling naïvete. I'm struggling here not to make a slightly facile connection with current world events, but it's becoming difficult to resist the parallels...


I think you're certainly right in saying that the nun's isolationism, both actual and cultural (with the catastrophic results it causes) can be read as representing the British colonial experience. Many critics have taken this view pointing out the film was released in 1947, the year British rule in India ended. Of course India is not explored directly as a theme, it's more of a sub-text to the film.

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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Snarfyguy » 08 Feb 2008, 04:16

Late to the party, sorry. I was delighted to note adherence to Checkov's principle of drama: when you first see that tolling bell on the precipice, you know someone's going over it!

As a commentary on colonialism, it certainly is forward thinking. I wouldn't have thought those lessons would have been so well-learned by mid-century, but I don't see any other way to read that particular subtext.

Sister Ruth's decline was certainly no surprise, but she really went downhill *fast* toward the end.

Ultimately, I got the feeling that the film was a bit all over the place. It was about too many things, which necessarily diminished its impact and it ultimately didn't work for me. I guess I don't really go for melodrama that much, anyway. Still, it's quite a spectacle and I'm certainly not sorry I saw it.
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Sneelock » 08 Feb 2008, 06:56

well, I'm a sucker for a melodrama when I'm in the right mood. I think the overripe aroma of repression that just stinks the place up is really pretty wonderful. I think Deborah Kerr's face is as striking as the real estate. the movie works it's spell on me pretty much so I rank it pretty high. I get pretty much the same feeling whenever I watch it. I'll attribute this to skillfull film-making.

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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby jkruppa » 08 Feb 2008, 20:40

Jeemo wrote:I have always rated A Matter of Life and Death as their masterpiece


It's certainly not as dark is it?

I'm a sucker for any visually beautiful film as long as it has a bit of depth and the barest excuse for a plot. I've never bothered analyzing this one just because I like the atmosphere so much I don't really care about the rest (shame on me, perhaps, but there you go).

David Farrar's shorts do bug me though. :D

Also, the documentary on the Criterion disc is great. Lots of information about the cinematography.

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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Jeemo » 15 Mar 2010, 16:50

bump
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Snowdog » 30 Mar 2010, 19:48

Remastered DVD version, anyone?

Black Narcissus
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Jeemo » 31 Mar 2010, 23:36

No thanks, I already have a P&P 11 disc box set
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Snowdog » 01 Apr 2010, 00:02

Jeemo wrote:No thanks, I already have a P&P 11 disc box set


:D

Just saw it & thought of this thread.
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby algroth » 04 Apr 2010, 22:20

I really need to watch more Powell & Pressburger, and intend to do so soon. I'll be back with my thoughts on this. Cheers!

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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Ghost of Harry Smith » 05 Apr 2010, 02:33

The remastered version of 'The Red Shoes' played for a week at the local arthouse cinema recently, so I took my girlfriend to see it, as she loves ballet but had never seen it. It's sent me on a P&P jag again, well that and Jack Cardiff popping his clogs not long ago, I've started reading a book on his life, as well as dipping into Michael Powell's 1st volume of autobiography, that's a great read. I too bought that 11 disc p&p set from hmv, but I've been dipping into them sparingly, digging one out whenever I really need a blast of 40s cinema to ground my Sunday afternoon, just like when I first saw them as a boy watching BBC.

This thread has made me decide on 'Black Narcissus' next, which I remember really disliking as a youngster. Let's see if time has changed that.

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Ghost of Harry Smith
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Ghost of Harry Smith » 05 Apr 2010, 02:55

Jeemo wrote:I have always rated A Matter of Life and Death as their masterpiece


That's the one for me too. 'Blimp', 'Red Shoes' and 'Black Narcissus' seem to get more critical kudos.

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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby Minnie the Minx » 16 Apr 2010, 20:32

Nuns are hawt
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Re: Black Narcissus -Film Club

Postby The Modernist » 13 Aug 2010, 12:15

bump for moving