listen to the wind...

Watching Black Narcissus (1947), a beautiful film by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, I realize the difficult struggles between belief, commitment, and the unchangeable, deepest self. There are those places in us that demand confrontation.

The basic premise of the story is a relatively young nun is given charge of establishing a small order in a remote area of the Himalayas. All previous efforts have been unsuccessful. The constancy of the wind – a magnificent trope in this film – although a reminder of transformation – makes the viewer fully aware of the necessity for acceptance – an absolute acceptance of the self. This is illustrated in the landscape, most notably, in the old palace that resists change. The psychosexual and emotional dynamics of the former palace shadow everything and refuse the nuns’ more “noble” efforts of religious practice, medicine, and learning.

The film is quite erotic and mysterious on a very personal level – while never losing sight of its larger though more subdued political agenda in terms of culture clash. A successful work in every respect – especially the superb cinematography by Jack Cardiff. Strong performances from Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron, and David Farrar.


Collin said...

Believe it or not, I've never seen Black Narcissus. I need to remedy that soon.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

It's a great film, Collin. Amazing use of color & shade. I have the Criterion version but want to see the Region 2 version as well.