Black Narcissus (1947)

Black Narcissus (1947), written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Powell and Pressburger's most famous title. It's always described as a masterpiece and I've seen it called the most beautiful color film ever. Neither statement can be much of an exaggeration.

Nuns reopen a mission school at 8000 feet in the mountains of India. It doesn't work out. The air is too clear, the wind is always blowing, the building is an old royal brothel and the walls are covered with erotic paintings. The local English agent, manly and often half dressed, provokes them from the outset and flirts with the weakest of the Sisters, the crazy one. He attends Christmas services drunk.

The women begin recalling their previous lives. The Sister Superior has vivid, wrenching flashbacks of her life in Ireland before the Order, when she hunted and fished with her young man, now long gone. It's as if their devotions have cut them off from reality which now comes roaring back in this remote, exotic location.

Outstanding cast, particularly in Deborah Kerr as the Sister Superior who is cracking and Kathleen Byron as the Sister who cracks. Also with Jean Simmons, Sabu, Flora Robson and David Farrar.

Photographed by Jack Cardiff.

Criterion Blu-ray. Just stunning.

(My thumbnails are from the DVD).