Black Narcissus

  • U
  • Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (1947)
  • UK
  • 100 min
Black Narcissus
Film Review
Reviewed By
5 out of 5

Winner of Oscars for art direction and cinematography, this adaptation of Rumer Godden's simmering novel by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger is one of the most striking examples of studio-controlled artifice in film history. Jack Cardiff's incredibly lush colour images not only enhance the beauty of the stylised Himalayan scenery, but also bring a certain grandeur to the melodramatic events at a remote mountain mission where the visit of English agent David Farrar causes passions to run dangerously out of control among the nuns. Kathleen Byron's eye-rolling jealousy awakens the occasionally sleepy plot and her scene with Deborah Kerr on the bell tower is a true classic. Sabu as a wealthy local general and Jean Simmons as the nubile native girl who attracts his attention provide a little eastern spice.

Plot Summary

Classic drama starring Deborah Kerr as one of five Anglo-Catholic nuns who establish a school and hospital in a disused harem perched on a mountain pinnacle in the Himalayas. As the nuns struggle to cope with the sensuous atmosphere of their surroundings, the intrusive male presence of the local English agent brings further disquiet.

Cast and crew


Sister Clodagh
Deborah Kerr
Dilip Rai, the Young General
Mr Dean
David Farrar
Sister Philippa
Flora Robson
The old General
Esmond Knight
Jean Simmons
Sister Ruth
Kathleen Byron
Blanche, Sister Honey
Jenny Laird
Sister Briony
Judith Furse
Angu Ayah
May Hallatt
Shaun Noble
Mother Dorothea
Nancy Roberts


Michael Powell
Emeric Pressburger

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Available on video, DVD and BluRay
Released 5 Aug 2005
Certificate U