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Black Narcissus (1947)

Not Rated | | Drama | December 1947 (USA)
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After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.

Writers:

Rumer Godden (adapted from the novel by), Michael Powell | 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Deborah Kerr ... Sister Clodagh
Flora Robson ... Sister Philippa
Jenny Laird ... Sister Honey
Judith Furse ... Sister Briony
Kathleen Byron ... Sister Ruth
Esmond Knight ... The Old General
Sabu ... The Young General
David Farrar ... Mr. Dean
Jean Simmons ... Kanchi
May Hallatt ... Angu Ayah
Eddie Whaley Jr. Eddie Whaley Jr. ... Joseph Anthony
Shaun Noble Shaun Noble ... Con
Nancy Roberts Nancy Roberts ... Mother Dorothea
Ley On Ley On ... Phuba
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Storyline

5 nuns openi a convent in the Himalayas, where they encounter conflict and tension - not just with the nearby inhabitants, but also amongst themselves, as they attempt to surmount the difficulties inherent in trying to adjust to their new environment. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of exquisite yearning in a strange and beautiful land. Towering over the screen...as the mountains that saw it happen. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Narciso negro See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£280,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Legion of Decency still held great sway on filmgoing habits in America, and a Condemned film would eliminate a huge number of ticket sales. The film had already opened in New York and Los Angeles, but the ban interfered with scheduled openings in other cities, such as Detroit and Memphis. Rank was in a bad position. Parliament had just imposed a 75 percent duty on American films imported to England, and Hollywood was temporarily boycotting the British market. The few British films that could play well in America were encouraged as a goodwill gesture, so Rank was anxious that the film play in as many American cities as possible. The only option they saw was to make cuts to the film to satisfy the Legion of Decency. So, the film was edited by 900 feet or so - ten cuts in all. All of Sister Clodagh's memories of Ireland were cut, accounting for most of the offending footage. The close-up of Sister Ruth applying lipstick also fell victim to censorship, and a few lines of suggestive dialogue were also eliminated, for example Mr. Dean's line to Sister Briony, "You will be doing me a great favour when you educate the local girls." Finally, the wording of the foreword was changed so that there would be no mistaking that the order of nuns might be Catholic; now it said that "a group of Protestant nuns in mysterious India find adventure, sacrifice, and tragedy." Now satisfied, the ban was removed and the film was released with an A2 classification from the Legion. See more »

Goofs

(at around 1h 35 mins) Sister Ruth picks up Mr. Dean's pipe, which is 'smoking', from an ashtray. She walks away, still holding the pipe, and the ashtray continues to emitting trails of smoke. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mother Dorothea: Sita, go and tell Sister Clodagh I wish to speak with her.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits:- Convent Of The Order of The Servants Of Mary - Calcutta See more »

Alternate Versions

The 'Madness of Sister Ruth' (Kathleen Byron) with a classic scene of all-stops-out, sex-starved insanity was removed from the original US version to avoid offending the Catholic Legion of Decency. See more »

Connections

Featured in A Profile of 'The Red Shoes' (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Lullay My Liking
(uncredited)
Old Edwardian Carol
Music by Sir Richard Terry
New music by Brian Easdale
See more »

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User Reviews

Brooding atmosphere of its own...gorgeous color photography...
6 May 2001 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Deborah Kerr is designated to establish a convent in the Himalayas at a remote cliffside dwelling, a palace of dubious origin. She takes her assignment seriously and faces strange customs and unfamiliar peoples as well as a harsh climate. There are inner struggles as well, and Kerr is excellent at revealing these. Huge closeups reveal what her character is supposedly thinking as she peers at others, often in unspoken disapproval of their actions, particularly David Farrar, Jean Simmons (as an Indian girl), and Kathleen Byron--who gives the film's most urgent performance as the distraught nun with worldly pleasures on her mind. Kerr gives a faultless performance, the mainstay of the film, since most of the story is seen from her viewpoint.

The striking color photography and set decoration were rightfully awarded Oscars. A haunting, powerful study of the effects of loneliness and isolation on a group of nuns--and what happens when one of them goes beserk. The struggle between the two nuns at the bell tower is one of the most gripping climaxes ever. A richly detailed British film with a windswept atmosphere all its own.


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