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BLACK NARCISSUS

MICHAEL POWELL & EMERIC PRESSBURGER

This film screened 5th December 2010.

For Powell and Pressburger, after their run of topical original stories, this melodrama about nuns in the Himalayas, based on Rumer Godden’s novel, was a bold change of direction; the image of one of them, Kathleen Byron, tipping over into lipsticked hysteria has become one of the most iconic in all British cinema. Powell contrived, remarkably, to shoot almost the whole film in England, with the indispensable help of Jack Cardiff and Alfred Junge, who won Oscars respectively for Colour Cinematography and Art Direction. Flashbacks to the earlier life of the nuns’ Irish leader (Deborah Kerr) were filmed in County Galway, a reminder of the Irish sympathies of its very English director. Married to an Irishwoman, Powell visited the Film Society in Dublin during wartime, regularly used Irish actors like Niall McGinnis and Cyril Cusack, set a novel in Ireland, and came tantalisingly close to shooting a film here, years ahead of Ford’s The Quiet Man. If only.

100 minutes| U.K.| 1947| Colour| D-Cinema

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