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Black Narcissus (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1947)

Deborah Kerr , Flora Robson , Michael Powell , Emeric Pressburger  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)

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Blu-ray The Criterion Collection $25.55  
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"The Life Aquatic" Available for Pre-order on Blu-ray
The Criterion Collection's release of Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic is available for pe-order on Blu-ray. This title releases May 27th, 2014. Learn more

Frequently Bought Together

Black Narcissus (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Red Shoes (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Deborah Kerr, Flora Robson, Jean Simmons
  • Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
  • Run Time: 154 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ICZW78
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,231 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Narcissus (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Video introduction by French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier
  • Audio commentary featuring Michael Powell and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
  • The Audacious Adventurer, a 2006 video piece
  • Profile of Black Narcissus (2000), a twenty-five-minute documentary
  • Painting with Light, a twenty-seven-minute documentary
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones

  • Editorial Reviews

    Additional Features

    The Criterion Collection takes its second go at the Powell-Pressburger classic Black Narcissus, first issued by the company as title no. 93 in 2001. This 2010 disc retains some extras from the first issue, including a commentary track with Michael Powell and Martin Scorsese, and a 25-minute documentary called "Painting with Light," focusing on the work of cinematographer Jack Cardiff. The new extras, some incorporated from recent international DVD releases, include a warm 9-minute introduction by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (accompanied by various production stills); an 18-minute featurette called "The Audacious Adventurer," again with Tavernier as guide through the film; and "Profile of Black Narcissus," a 25-minute behind-the-scenes piece that includes comments from Cardiff, actress Kathleen Byron, and critic Ian Christie. All of these are affectionate and useful, if somewhat repetitive taken together. The most important reason for the Criterion reissue is improved technical quality for the film itself, as the previous release was deemed problematic compared to other international versions. Those improvements having been made, this version can only be called a wow. --Robert Horton

    Product Description

    This explosive work about the conflict between the spirit and the flesh is the epitome of the sensuous style of filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (I Know Where I’m Going!, The Red Shoes). A group of nuns—played by some of Britain’s best actresses, including Deborah Kerr (From Here to Eternity, An Affair to Remember), Flora Robson (The Rise of Catherine the Great, Wuthering Heights), and Jean Simmons (Great Expectations, Hamlet)—struggles to establish a convent in the snowcapped Himalayas; isolation, extreme weather, altitude, and culture clashes all conspire to drive the well-intentioned missionaries mad. A darkly grand film that won Oscars for its set design and for its cinematography by Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes, The African Queen), Black Narcissus is one of the greatest achievements by two of cinema’s true visionaries.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars "You Must All Get Away Before Something Happens" October 15, 2005
    Format:VHS Tape
    This stunning and atmospheric film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who were the team behind Archer Productions, is an engrossing and moody masterpiece one might term, religious noir. It was shot in lush colors by Jack Cardiff with a score by Brian Easdale performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. It is the story and the atmosphere created by Powell and Pressburger that gives this adaptation of a novel by Rumer Gooden its noirish feel, however, and it would easily be just as good in black and white.

    Deborah Kerr is Sister Clodagh, fullfilling her duties at the Servants of Mary in Calcutta. She is assigned to helm St. Faith, high in the Himalayas, and is given the charge of Mother Superior in order to do so. She will be the youngest ever to hold such a position, and it is one her Mother Superior believes she is not ready for. Once she reaches the lonely place over nine thousand feet from the earth, with her small group of Sisters, she will discover that while they may be in closer proximity to the heavens, they will be much further from God.

    The isolation, the drums, and the wind, will have an effect on each of the Sisters, including Sister Clodagh. She is strict and demanding, but becomes concious of the danger here when she herself begins to drift and dream of her past in Ireland before joining the Servants of Mary. Kerr has a graceful Irish beauty that is almost stunning in these flashback scenes. She was young and happy, and in love. She was from a small area and did not want to be shamed when the one she had given her love to decided to move on without her. Her decision was born out of her desire to avoid humiliation.
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    70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars The Criterion version is COMPLETE September 21, 2005
    Format:DVD
    I am not sure why the poster believes the film is missing a scene. I have the Criterion edition, and I have just watched the scene. It starts about 43 minutes into the film, and it involves the beggar girl looking at wall art, dancing, and trying to seduce the young General. In the commentary, Michael Powell says, in reference to the girl's dance: "When Larry Olivier saw this... he couldn't believe it. His Ophelia [from 'Hamlet' in 1948] changed into this..." I've posted snapshots from the film of this scene in the Criterion version.

    There is one minor error in the Criterion and previous versions of the film that have been released. When Sister Ruth sees red and passes out, the screen goes to blue instead of black. This is most likely the result of some electronic sampler that thought "black" meant "no signal", and as VCRs will do, switched the screen to blue.

    This film is excellent and Jack Cardiff was a genius. It rightly won the Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration in 1947.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites of all time! October 17, 2000
    Format:DVD
    One of the best British films ever made is this pioneering effort by independent filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Shot entirely in Scotland with painted matte backgrounds to recreate the Himalayas (and astonishingly well at that), the film is superbly textured and mature, thematically ahead of any movie made in its period. Deborah Kerr heads a superb group of performers as the Mother Superior of a group of nuns who move to a convent in a remote mountain village in India, only to find that their confidence and strength in their religion is no match for the mystic powers of the East. Sexual frustration over local white man David Farrar, weakening faith, harsh climate and the growing fondness for their homeland soon get to the women and they are forced to leave or die. Interestingly enough, Kerr's flashback scenes of her Scottish youth and teenage sweetheart were cut by American censors upon first release, even though they were completely without sexual content, explicit or implicit; it seems it was too taboo to show a nun who has taken her vows to escape a failed love affair (the scenes have since been restored and are now available on home video). Funny, the nun who throws herself off a mountain because she goes bug-eyed every time she sees Farrar in his shorts didn't even make the Prude Alert blink.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this one! March 30, 2000
    Format:VHS Tape
    From the same team that gave us THE RED SHOES this film is a must see for those who appreciate a great story fleshed out by terrific performances in lush settings with phenomenal art direction. Made over fifty years ago BLACK NARCISSUS could be considered significantly ahead of its time in its unique use of narration, and subject. (Hint: What happens when a group of British nuns is sent from their cloistered priory to establish an infirmary/school in a palace formerly inhabited by a sultan's harem located high in the Himalayas? Watch and find out.) Atmospheric and hypnotic (shot in truly glorious technicolor), this is a movie you'll want to watch many times. Definitely one of a kind. Deborah Kerr is outstanding as Head Sister Clodagh. (With Sabu and a very young Jean Simmons in supporting roles.)
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    17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Must Own Blu-Ray - Film As Art September 30, 2010
    Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
    Length: 2:01 Mins
    Hi I'm Lou, I hope you find my video review of the blu-ray Criterion edition of "Black Narcissus" helpful.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Blu-ray
    I own this UK import. The movie itself is region free and does indeed work on North American Blu-Ray players; however, the featurette "A Profile of Black Narcissus" is presented in standard-def PAL (on the same BR disc as the HD feature), and is not playable on most US BR machines.

    So, if you are only interested in the main feature (which does like quite nice in HD) and don't mind being somewhat ripped off in the extra features department, go for it. It wouldn't surprise me to see Criterion eventually release a Region A Blu-Ray edition of this stateside, however.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie!
    Wonderful classic movie. I've watched it three times already! I bought it on the recommendation in the ebook "Classic Movies: 14 Films You May Not Have Seen, But Should" by... Read more
    Published 18 days ago by Claresse Gehman
    5.0 out of 5 stars GeniusGorgeousMagical
    This film is everything stated above...a masterpiece! This film should be shown in the schools to help kids dream more and stress less...it is so elegant!
    Published 2 months ago by save the forests
    5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking feat for the senses
    I remember I was very, very young (7 or 8-yrs old) when I first saw that petrifying shot of Sister Ruth's insane, perspired face. Read more
    Published 2 months ago by MormonBuddhist
    5.0 out of 5 stars Just a Beautiful Movie
    What stands out about this movie(at least to me) is the arrestingly beautiful photography. It will take your breath away. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Tony Marquise Jr.
    5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Movie
    It was nice to see Deborah Kerr when she was young in a movie. She was a good actress. It also showed how a nun can have a feeling for another person related to love.
    Published 3 months ago by redlin51
    5.0 out of 5 stars Deborah Kerr is great in this thriller.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller. Everything that a good movie should have. I would recommend to anyone that enjoys good old fashioned movies..
    Published 3 months ago by moira branson
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!!
    I've watched almost very nun movie made. This is special, understandably a Criterion Collection. If made today, I would suspect the script would be altered and perhaps the drama... Read more
    Published 11 months ago by Judy Cabito
    5.0 out of 5 stars better than the movie
    This book is psychologically very gripping. The cover throws one off balance to look at it. And is more suspenseful than the old movie.
    Published 11 months ago by Amy G. Blaiir
    5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it now!!
    First of all I love Deborah Kerr and this movie. The Criterion Collection has truly out done themselves with all the wonderful Special Features. Don't wait. Get it now.
    Published 11 months ago by BILLY
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
    One of my Mothers favorite movies saw it here on Amazon and had to get it glad I did I made her day! thanks Amazon
    Published 12 months ago by Tori Neely'Sanchez
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    Topic From this Discussion
    The Version is CUT
    If what you say is true, then next time you may want to consider not taking NINE YEARS to clarify what you mean about the movie "missing" a specific scene.
    Aug 12, 2010 by brian0918 |  See all 2 posts
    This version is COMPLETE
    My God!! Don't you know your cinema history at all? Sit in a dark room and repeat over and over to yourself. There were no modern widescreen movies before 1953, there were no modern widescreen movies before 1953 ... Also, check out this website:
    http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/index.htm
    Apr 27, 2008 by Terry Carroll |  See all 6 posts
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