Black Narcissus U

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From the archive

This film was last shown on 30 May 2019

In this unusual, visually stunning, and dramatically compelling film, Anglican nuns attempt to establish a convent in the Himalayas in buildings that formerly housed a harem. The sisters find the sensual atmosphere unsettling, and eventually sexual attraction to the ruling general's ruggedly handsome agent leads to tragedy.

Post screening discussion with Liz Goodwin

Nuns on film have a long and fascinating history, but they are perhaps never more visceral and iconic than in this visually stunning Powel and Pressberger masterpiece from 1947. This portrayal of the enclosed, celibate monastic life as, at best, unhealthy, and, at worst, dangerously destructive, echoes historical stereotyping, in particular focusing on nuns as sexually frustrated and immoral as a result. This talk will explore the film’s constructions, images and inversions of gender, sexuality and religion, discussing society’s obsession with nuns as sexual objects or as the dangerous, seductive, frightening ‘other.’

1 hour 40 minutes


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