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Year: 1947
UK: BFI (UK Wide)
Cast: Deborah Kerr, Sabu, David Farrar, Flora Robson, Esmond Knight, Jean Simmons, Kathleen Byron, Jenny Laird, Judith Furse, May Hallatt, Eddie Whaley Jr., Shaun Noble, Nancy Roberts, Ley On, Joy Rawling
Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Country: UK
UK: 100 mins
UK Certificate: U contains mild peril
UK Release Date: 5 August 2005


To celebrate the centenary of Michael Powell, BFI Distribution will release BLACK NARCISSUS - one of the most striking achievements of his partnership with Emeric Pressburger - in a sumptuous new restoration by Granada International. Premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, this restoration - made from original 35mm film elements and screening in a beautiful digital transfer - reveals Powell's cinematic virtuosity to stunning effect.

Deborah Kerr plays a young nun, Sister Clodagh who is appointed Superior of a new convent to be set up by her order of working nuns in a remote region of the Himalayas. But things start to go wrong almost immediately on arrival. Staying at the House of Women, a former harem, the youngest nun Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) is infatuated by the local ruler's agent who is English but he gives the nuns short shrift and thinks Sister Clodagh is her rival for his attentions.

Passions rise as all the inhabitants of Mopu are drawn into a rising hysteria, and the nuns find themselves fighting for their sanity as much as their faith, in what now seems a telling, if unintended, anticipation of Britain's imminent withdrawal from India.

Throughout Michael Powell's career he saw, welcomed and embraced new technical developments (often to the alarm of his more cautious colleagues). It is therefore particularly appropriate that the bfi Distribution's reissue of his celebrated BLACK NARCISSUS should be in the vanguard of the digital revolution which, when fully emerged, will transform the audience's experience of classic cinema.

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