Monday, January 16, 2012

Altitude Sickness

Black Narcissus (1947) - Powell/Pressburger
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A young prudish nun Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) is appointed as a mother superior and sent to the Himalayas to open up a convent where Sisters would teach and provide medical services for the natives. It's a big test for her and others who are young and still haven't gotten over their earthly desires. It might be the high altitude or the clean air or that hunky man-meat Mr. Dean (David Farrar) in khaki shorts, that many of the nuns are acting strange and losing faith. Then there is an enchanting, sexed-up, 17-year old native savage named Kanchi (Jean Simmons) stirring things up. To top it all off, the convent is located in a former pleasure den used by the local general, with grand architecture and salacious wall paintings intact.

It's a soap opera high up in the mountains in glorious Technicolor backdrop and a mind-blowing achievement to think that everything was done in the studio. It culminates to the confrontation between Clodagh and Jealous, feverish Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) who abandons the order, at the bell tower at the edge of the cliff. P & P are not interested in religious aspects of Clodagh at all. Rather it's a magnificent adventure story and tests people go through in life. I really loved it.

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