Wednesday, February 17, 2010

#93: Black Narcissus

(Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947)

Netflix just put up a bunch of Powell and Pressburger films, and this is the first one I watched. The duo has made a few of the best films ever made, most notably The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom (though the latter was Powell alone), so I'm looking forward to getting through them, despite my disinterest with The Thief of Baghdad.

What made me watch this one first? The guarantee of strong visuals, and I wasn't disappointed. The best scenes involve the crazy nun (played completely over the top by some British lady) running through a bamboo forest lit in green, as she slices through it in her deep red dress. When she faints, the camera takes on her POV and then red seeps in before the whole screen goes blue, as if the DVD feed had been cut off from the television (probably not their original intention, but it has a remarkable effect nevertheless).

It is uses of color like this that make the film so successful, one of the best representations of the Technicolor era that I've seen. The tones used throughout the movie evoke the mood of the people, they seem alive and ever-changing, deep in way that seems impossible in reality. While the movie's story has its faults, which might prevent me from saying I really loved the film, it's the visual impact of the movie that will be difficult to forget.

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