One might ask how exciting a movie about nuns can be; Black Narcissus shows how many different dimensions this topic has, starting with the usual praying, gardening and teaching children, finishing with women struggling with long forgotten memories, inner demons and desire.
There's more to the whole movie than just dramatic events and drastic changes in the nuns behaviour. As Ewig states in the quotation:
"Black Narcissus plays as a very dramatic film, but throws in little elements of other genres"(Ewig, 2009), and this is probably what gathered the audience of the whole world, making it feel satisfied and excited after watching the production. Small elements of comedy as the paintings of nude women welcoming the sisters in their new home, a building and growing tension between Mr.Dean (David Farrar) and the nuns; all these accompanied by beautiful music (by Brian Easdale) and painted environments, created an unforgettable image and original style of the movie.
More should be said about the backgrounds as Black Narcissus uses matte paintings instead of the actual locations in the mountains. The paintings have been made on glass, picturing perfectly natural environment of the mountains and the humid climate. Without knowing the truth about surroundings one might get tricked, not realizing that the whole production was completed primarily at Pinewood Studios. This only states how detailed and realistic the backgrounds of Black Narcissus are. Keiser states the truth about the movie, underlining the fact about the feeling it gives:
"A film in which the plot and the scenery change roles, as the plot fades to the background and you are left to admire the beautiful scenery brought to the forefront" (Keiser, 2010)
There is much to be admired in the movie and apart from the visual tricks of the scenery there's also an incredible use of the colours; red plays a very important role in the whole production.
"Color is almost like an added element of nature in this opera; it signals change, hence the colorful transformations of the season"(Rich, 2010)
This particular colour has been used for its many meanings such as lust, passion, heat, life. In the beginning it's just a small detail, wondering somewhere in the background, announcing upcoming changes and the slowly growing tension. As the story develops, the colour starts to be more vibrant and visible and in the end it fills up the whole scenery, making the audience feel what the nuns felt.
Black Narcissus is the movie which should be watched if not for the plot, then definitely for the visual aspects which are overhelming and strongly satisfying.
*Ewig, James Blake (2009) Online source: http://cinemasights.com/?p=243
*Keiser, Andy (2010) Online source: http://filmreviewsnsuch.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/black-narcissus.html
*Rich, Jamie R. (2010) Online source: http://www.criterionconfessions.com/2010/07/black-narcissus-93.html