Magic Movie Moments: Powell + Pressburger’s “Black Narcissus”


“I don’t want to go away. I want to stay here like this for the rest of my life…”


Michael Powell + Emeric Pressburger’s 1947 film Black Narcissus is crammed full of magic movie moments – moments unlike any other you are bound to see in any other film.

Moments where you would swear, instead of a movie, you might actually have stumbled upon an epic painting come to life, or perhaps you caught yourself awake in a dream.

The film is set high in the cliffs of the Himalayan mountains where a group of five nuns have sequestered themselves to begin an order in this strange new land. Nothing ever seems to go quite as planned for these seeker’s of God who exhibit more than their true colors in their time spent trying to maintain and repair their adapted home.

It is a story of human will and sacrifice (as most stories with nuns are), as well as examining the cultures of Christianity, and Western beliefs and attitudes. The film also explores spirituality (as most stories with nus do) to a large extent, and the various ways in which almost supernatural forces come to play in our daily lives.

Despite being over 60 years old, the film’s unconventional themes and characters carry it straight into the 21st Century and beyond. In fact, we’d be very lucky to receive a film with as much intellect, suspense, and overall beauty in this day and age…Powell + Pressburger never ceases to impress me, but there definitely is an undeniable touch of magic and mystery that make this film an absolute great.

Jack Cardiff’s dynamic cinematography is definitely a major contributing factor to the film’s devastating beauty. Like a canvas, Cardiff paints every frame with an attention to detail only a true artist could bring, upping the ante for the film altogether. As much as the light paints the scene, Cardiff uses shadow and color to exquisite effect.


“There’s something in the atmosphere that makes everything exaggerated…”


Enjoy this clip of the film’s epic climax if you dare…and don’t be afraid of the haunted feeling you may achieve. It’s actually quite refreshing.

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We were lucky enough to catch this on TCM‘s queue of timeless and obscure movie classics, but you can also find Powell + Pressburger’s Black Narcissus available on DVD & Blu-Ray through the Criterion Collection packed full of amazing extras. Check it out today.


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  1. One of my favourite films! A small correction though: the nuns didn’t go to the Himalayas to found a new religious order. They already belonged to one. They went there to establish a convent, to make Christianity available to the local people, and to run a dispensary for their health and medical needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are absolutely right! Thank you 🙂 And thank you for finding our little corner of the internet!!! Sending good vibes!




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