The 23 April screening of Black Narcissus will be introduced by Ben Slater. Ben Slater is a writer, editor and lecturer who has written extensively about international films shot in Singapore including his book “Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore” (Marshall Cavendish: 2006). He’s currently collaborating with Asian Film Archive on the Cinema Reclaimed programme for Singapore HeritageFest in May and June 2022.
Director: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
Runtime: 101 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
BEST ART DIRECTION
Academy Awards 1948
Golden Globes 1948
“There’s something in the atmosphere that makes everything seem exaggerated.”
– Mr. Dean in Black Narcissus
Using a woodland English garden as a studio and adapted from Rumer Godden’s bestseller, Black Narcissus is a sumptuous Technicolor psychological drama charting the voyage of five Anglican nuns up the vertiginous Himalayas. Haunted by the ghosts of the old harem, the nuns struggle to re-invent Mopu Palace as a holy convent amidst the buffeting winds and unfamiliar locals. Complicated by the charming Englishman who becomes an object of repressed desire, the sisters’ imperial mission of re-educating the natives plunges them into a crisis of self-doubt and hysteria.
Whereas the family in Godden’s The River arrive with peaceful assimilation, the sisters in Black Narcissus depart with a despair arising from their inability to tame both the alien landscape and their inner demons. Powell and Pressburger’s rendering of the exotic and surreal Himalayas reflect the Gothic anxieties of British rule in India—one rooted in a desire to dominate and conquer the incomprehensible.
The full Orienting Paradise: Western Projections of the East programme can be found here. Tickets will go on sale Friday, 25 March 2022.
Friends of AFA members may select the “Friends of AFA” option and enter your membership number if you wish to redeem your remaining complimentary tickets.
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