Black Narcissus review

In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's best work, there's a sense of supremely confident filmmakers just drawing themselves back from operatic excess. Nowhere is this more true than in the directing/writing duo's melodramatic tale Black Narcissus (re-released at the NFT to celebrate the centenary of Michael Powell's birth).

Led by Deborah Kerr's Sister Clodagh, a woman haunted by love lost, the nuns have come to the Himalayas to set up a convent. But soon their claustrophobic society breaks down amidst an atmosphere of barely suppressed sexuality, hysteria and madness.

The supercharged tension is largely played out through Kathleen Byron's extraordinary performance as deranged Sister Ruth, but there's so much more to admire here - from the heightened reality conveyed by the Pinewood sets to Jack Cardiff's sumptuous, Oscar-winning Technicolor cinematography.

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