The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Tracey Brown

Black Narcissus (1946)
The Criterion DVD
Review by: Steve Erickson
Angeles Magazine, February 2001

Tracey writes: This is from the February 2001 issue of Angeles Magazine. It part of an interesting article on films the writer recommends for watching alone with one's TV late at night and how some movies are better viewed ALONE than with an audience! Films discussed include; Vertigo, Eyes Wide Shut, A Place in the Sun, In the Mood for Love and BN!!!! Enjoy!

For Your Eyes Only: It's midnight, you're home alone and a new cinema is born.

By Steve Erickson

Finishing their blurb on In the Mood for Love, "But rarely has there been a movie where sensual repression seemed so sensual, where passivity seemed so potentially combustible.

I can think of only one, actually. As it happens, just as In the Mood for Love is being released to the theaters, Michael Powell's Black Narcissus is being released on DVD by Criterion, which is to say that for the first time since it was produced in 1946, it will exist in its ideal form, gorgeously resorted for private viewing by the Audience of You. I've never seen Black Narcissus in a theatre, and I'm not sure it would be a good idea. Like Verigo, it's another perennial contender for those all-time to 10 lists, and if Hitchcock's erotic fixations so unsettle audiences they can only laugh, Black Narcissus would have them howling like libidinally berserk nuns in a remote Himalayan convent, which by complete coincidence just happens to be exactly what it's about. Made in an England still shoveling out from under the rubble and ash of war, Black Narcissus offers a paradise at once narcotic and overpowering, serene and seductive, lush and unforgiving, where Eve is a guy bounding about the mountains in hiking shorts and the serpent is an Indian girl decidedly unimpressed by the sexual etiquette of any quaint Western God.

In the gloriously disreputable tradition of the Cinema of Hysteria, it all sound perfectly ridiculous, but some years ago, after seeing and inferior video version on TV one midnight, even with Jack Cardiff's ravishing, depraved cinematography awash in dingy blues, my sleep patterns weren't the same for a month. My wife slept through the whole thing and still woke the next morning, turned to me and said, "What was that?" And come this Saturday night, somewhere out there is a spellbound 13-year-old teenage girl will watch it while Mom and Dad are gone and she'll never be the same and neither, for her, will the movies.

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