Black Narcissus

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Powell & Pressburger’s Black Narcissus is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, along with The Red Shoes, The Life of Pi, Cinema Paradiso, Amelie and Malena.

Shot in 1947, this film did not have the special effects that today’s films use and yet it still delivers.  Many directors and actors cite Black Narcissus as a great example of stunning cinematography.

Black Narcissus

Beautiful as the film is, the cast and story are wonderful too.  I grew up watching a lot of movies from the 30’s and 40’s and what I like about these eras are the number of stories written for women.  These were proper stories instead of women running around in short skirts being ‘ditzy’.  Personally, I feel this is the best performance Deborah Kerr has given in a film.

A group of Anglican nuns move into what used to be an old palace in the Himalyas to set up a convent. They want to run a school to educate the local children, as well as administer first aid and help the sick.  Tensions start to mount between Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron), who is mentally unstable, and Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), who has only recently become Sister Superior.  The nuns rescue a young girl called Kanchi (Jean Simmons) from a beating and take her back to the convent to live.  They seem part-horrified, part-intrigued by the young girl’s blatant sexuality.  Caught up in this is Mr Dean (David Farrar) who acts as an agent between the nuns and the locals.  Sister Ruth sees that Mr Dean likes Sister Clodagh and becomes irrationally jealous of their burdening friendship as she likes him herself.  Things escalate and lead to a dramatic conclusion.

Sister Ruth with Kanchi

Even though the air is fresh, the mountains/surroundings are vast, the flowers bright, and the sky is blue, as a viewer you can feel the intense claustrophobia that starts to effect the nuns’ behaviour.  The old palace has a brooding menace that haunts every shadow and corner.  You can see how somebody already unwell could lose their mind.

Mr Dean with Sister Ruth

If you love old movies, beautiful cinematography and a good tale, then I thoroughly recommend Black Narcissus.

Sister Ruth and Sister Clodagh

What is the most beautiful film you have ever seen?

 

My Favourite Movies

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So if you have been following this (2 month old) blog from the start, you will know I have loved films my whole life.  I hope the following gives you an insight into the films I like, love and/or wish I hadn’t seen!

My Top 20 Films:

The Godfather 2, LA Confidential, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bourne Identity, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Empire Strikes Back, Casino Royale, The Fellowship of the Ring, Signs, Jaws, Cinema Paradiso, Avengers Assemble, The Goonies, Shaun of the Dead, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation, The Shawshank Redemption, Black Narcissus, Sleepy Hollow

First horror film and favourite type?

I was 10 and staying at my best friend’s house.  Her teenage brother had a collection of horror films.  We watched Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves.  I had to sleep with a light on for a month afterwards.  I was easily scared then.  I prefer 70’s horror movies like The Shining, Carrie, Halloween and Rosemary’s Baby.  I also like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  I did enjoy the Ring and the first two Scream movies too.

Films that make me cry?

Oh, there’s been tons.  Schindler’s List, Born Free, Watership Down, Amelie, Beaches, Artificial Intelligence, Ben Hur, Cinema Paradiso, The Green Mile, Sense & Sensibility, The Shawshank Redemption….

AI: Artificial Intelligence. Beautiful, but sad.

Best child actor?

Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire.  Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine.  Rory Culkin in Signs and Mean Creek.  Perfect examples of actors, not stage school ‘jazz hands’ types.

Great example of a child actor: Rory Culkin

Films that make me laugh?

Trading Places, Despicable Me, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, There’s Something About Mary, Paul and speaking of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, their Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and World’s End.

Shaun of the Dead

Most disappointing film?

Anticipated by so many, so many left disappointed.  The Phantom Menace.  Should have waited for The Phantom Edit.  Come on JJ Abrams, I have faith in you to restore the saga.

Jar Jar Binks. Enough said.

Best teen film?

When I was a teen; The Lost Boys, The Breakfast Club and Heathers.  I never got the fuss about Dirty Dancing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, it is fun, but I am dismayed when women say ‘it’s the best film ever’, including other genres. It’s set in the 60’s , but he had a mullet, she had a perm.  They dance.  They fall in love.  Nobody puts Baby in the corner.  More recently, I’ve enjoyed Mean Girls, Kick-Ass and Superbad.

Favourite war films?

It isn’t my favourite genre.  They’re sometimes a hard watch, but it’s important that they exist.  Schindler’s List is amazing. My favourite are; Empire of the Sun, Ice Cold in Alex and Carve Her Name with Pride.  My husband wanted me to say Apocalypse Now, but that’s his favourite.

Carve her name with pride. Heroine.

Most beautiful film?

Studio Ghibli make the most beautiful animations.  Giuseppe Tornatore’s films are stunning.  Tarantino, whether you like his films or not, always makes an amazing visual impact, on me.  For costumes, music, cast and locations;  To Catch a Thief and The Talented Mr Ripley.  Powell & Pressburger’s Black Narcissus is absolutely exquisite.  Most recently, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Stunning imagery.

Favourite thrillers?

The Talented Mr Ripley, Match Point, Shallow Grave, The Usual Suspects, A Simple Plan, No Country for Old Men and LA Confidential.

Woody Allen’s Match Point

Who are my favourite actors?

Several.  Cate Blanchett, Leonardo di Caprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Tobey Maguire, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Robert Downey Junior, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Paul Giamatti, Edward Norton, Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson and, Tom Hanks.

Paul Giamatti. Brilliant actor.

I hope you know a bit more about what I like now and most importantly, that you enjoyed reading!

images: IMDb