Black Narcissus | Chicago Reader

Black Narcissus

A story of damaged faith and rising sexual hysteria (1946) set among a group of nuns in India who are working to convert a sultan's palace into a convent. Films on this subject are generally solemn and naive, but director Michael Powell and writer Emeric Pressburger bring wit and intelligence to it—the title, for example, refers not to some campy romantic theme but to a cheap men's cologne worn by the local princeling. The film's lush, mountainous India, full of sensual challenges and metaphorical chasms, was created entirely in the studio, with the help of matte artist Peter Ellenshaw. Powell's equally extravagant visual style transforms it into a landscape of the mind—grand and terrible in its thorough abstraction. With Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Jean Simmons, and Sabu.



  • Michael Powell
  • Emeric Pressburger


  • Deborah Kerr
  • Sabu
  • David Farrar
  • Flora Robson
  • Jean Simmons
  • Esmond Knight
  • Kathleen Byron
  • Jenny Laird
  • Judith Furse
  • May Hallatt
  • Shaun Noble
  • Eddie Whaley Jr.
  • Nancy Roberts


  • Michael Powell
  • Emeric Pressburger

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