Black Narcissus
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British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger once again deliberately courted controversy and censorship with their 1947 adaptation of Rumer Godden's novel. Deborah Kerr and Kathleen Byron play the head nuns at an Anglican hospital/school high in the Himalayas. The nuns' well-ordered existence is disturbed by the presence of a handsome British government agent (David Farrar), whose attractiveness gives certain sisters the wrong ideas. Meanwhile, an Indian girl (Jean Simmons) is lured down the road to perdition by a sensuous general (Sabu). While Kerr would seem most… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"There's something truly unearthly about this place of howling winds, yawning chasms and atmosphere thick with temptation. Sanctity, it will be proven, is no match for sin."
‑ Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
"Theatre this Michael Powell film most certainly is, as stressed by the gothic melodrama of the story and the acting, the studio setting with its beautiful backdrops and vivid colours and the most deliberate of characters and events."
‑ Dave Calhoun, Time Out
"The Archers at their most carnal-bonkers-sublime"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"Colonial hubris nunsploitation = an unforgettable movie."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"You could say it's the most sensual nun movie ever made."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Powell's equally extravagant visual style transforms it into a landscape of the mind -- grand and terrible in its thorough abstraction."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"While Messrs. Powell and Pressburger may have a picture that will disturb and antagonize some, they also have in Black Narcissus an artistic accomplishment of no small proportions."
‑ Thomas M. Pryor, New York Times
"Michael Powell was right when he called Black Narcissus an "erotic film," but the attraction is pure Pygmalionism."
‑ Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant Magazine
"Run, don't walk to see this 1947 classic from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"It might be the most beautiful film ever done in Technicolor."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Production has gained much through being in color. The production and camerawork atone for minor lapses in the story, Jack Cardiff's photography being outstanding."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"It remains a rapturous, near-indescribable work of cinematic art."
‑ Noel Murray, AV Club
"A 1947 English film classic about the challenges of desire faced by some nuns in a new mission in the Himalayas."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"Powell and Pressburger created a film that still feels light years ahead of the opposition."
‑ , Film4
"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."
‑ , Empire Magazine
More reviews for Black Narcissus on Rotten Tomatoes

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