Black Narcissus: Turner Classic Movies British Film Guide by Sarah Street

By Sarah Street

Black Narcissus, now heralded as a masterpiece, is a landmark movie within the influential canon of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. With the centenary of Powell's start in 2005 this well timed book--the first devoted completely to the film--draws on archival records, unique set drawings and stills to illustrate its extraordinary achievements, either as a construction and as a car for ideas. taking a look at the film's enduring photographs of either position and gender, Sarah highway additionally examines Black Narcissus as a masterly technical accomplishment, in addition to a meditation at the finish of empire. taking a look too on the film's arguable reception via overseas critics and censors, and its next influence on experimental filmmakers, highway explores problems with process, variety, functionality and interpretation to bare the ongoing relevance of the movie today.

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Knowledge of her past threatens to shatter this position of authority and responsibility, indicating that in many respects she is as vulnerable as Sister Ruth, whose function in the film is to represent hysterical, rebellious femininity. From this perspective Ruth represents what Clodagh might easily become: disturbed and uncontrollable, a figure of threatening madness. 27 Clodagh is established as somewhat vulnerable from the start. As we have seen, she is considered to be too young, too proud, not ready for the responsibility of being in charge of St Faith.

We are then at a hunt scene – galloping horses with two riders singled out who, we assume, are Clodagh and Con. The camera follows the chase for some time in a location typical of Powell’s affinity for pastoral scenes in a spectacular landscape. The present intrudes as we cut to the chapel, showing Clodagh totally enveloped by her memory, looking thrilled and happy but with the cross still in shadow over her face, as an aural connection is made between the sounds of the hunt and the arrival of the young General outside the palace on his horse.

He went on to star in several other films with imperial themes including The Drum, The Thief of Bagdad and The Jungle Book (1942). 72 As for Sabu, he immediately became trapped into stereotypical roles, living out his ‘rags to riches’ destiny. Sabu went to live in America in the early 1940s, becoming a US citizen in 1944. By then a popular star, he took part in the US Treasury Department’s ‘defense-bond’ sales campaign and served in the American Army Air Force. In the immediate post-war years his screen career had reached a low ebb, since none of the studios was planning a major imperial epic.

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