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Thread: Black Narcissus

  1. #41
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    Who are you talking to?
    Sorry , yes I was replying to your post I should of made that more clearer. I'd also add that your comment about Sister Ruth running around like something out of the Exorcist seems a bit out to me, it should be, something out of the Exorcist seems to be running about like Sister Ruth--- what came first the chicken or the egg



    I think a lot of people who really like P&P's classic films up to and including A Matter of Life and Death can sometimes become a little bit disillusioned with their later work like The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann personally I find them marvelous bits of artistic endeavor and like I have said before, they do make mistakes in those films but they were experimenting.



    Simon

  2. #42
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Sorry , yes I was replying to your post I should of made that more clearer.
    That's what I thought - just checking.



    You mention Duel in the Sun. That was ridiculed when it was released, although it went on to make a great deal of money. Peck and Jones in an epic-scale western melodrama by Selznick would equal box office in 1946. But it sure is a rotten film. Black Narcissus is a remarkable production of substandard material. I would agree that both films are overly dramatic, but there are few other comparisons.



    The production of Black Narcissus is extraordinary. As I said earlier, anyone who cares about film must see the transformation of an English set into an Indian cliffside palace and the use of light and color in the first half are literally dazzling.





    I'd also add that your comment about Sister Ruth running around like something out of the Exorcist seems a bit out to me, it should be, something out of the Exorcist seems to be running about like Sister Ruth--- what came first the chicken or the egg




    Well, that would certainly be a reasonable way to look at it. Either way, it is very weird.



    I think a lot of people who really like P&P's classic films up to and including A Matter of Life and Death can sometimes become a little bit disillusioned with their later work like The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann personally I find them marvelous bits of artistic endeavor and like I have said before, they do make mistakes in those films but they were experimenting.
    I ran a thread on Tales of Hoffman over the weekend. I think it is an outstanding film. Last night I watched several scenes for the seventh or eighth time, and I just got the DVD last week.



    The difference for me is tha the production matches the content. It is a filmed opera turned into a legend, and it works on many levels.



    The Red Shoes also works, but it is not my sort of film. That is, the content and the tone are not that interesting to me. But I can respect and admire the achievement.

  3. #43
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    The Red Shoes also works, but it is not my sort of film. That is, the content and the tone are not that interesting to me. But I can respect and admire the achievement.


    Well it wasn't mine at first I had no interest in ballet whatsoever but the true test of any art form is can it interest someone who has no interest in the form or the subject it is depicting and the answer was yes , for me at least!



    And as the saying goes 'many young girls at the time where bewitched by "The Red Shoes" and decided to follow the course of the ballet.



    Of course I cannot verify that, but I can verify my own conversion to this art form on the back of this film.



    The power of The Archers never ceases to amaze me even with such films as 'Black Narcissus' perhaps my penchant or acceptance for nuns in film, lays in the works from Ken Russell's The Devils and the many exploitational videos depicting nuns in the late 70's and early 80's. These films came later but my awareness of P&P was very much belated - anyway in many ways these films from the Archers are the biggest doorway to cinematic freedom this country has ever encountered on screen.



    Simon

  4. #44
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Well it wasn't mine at first I had no interest in ballet whatsoever but the true test of any art form is can it interest someone who has no interest in the form or the subject it is depicting and the answer was yes , for me at least!
    That is a good point. I did enjoy parts of The Red Shoes and the production made it worth seeing, but I found the central theme - that art is something to die for - questionable, at least the way it was presented.



    That is my limitation, which I was aware of while I watched it. Also, the presentation of Lermontov was too extreme. It just seemed that the problems of those characters were not compelling. All that spiteful and hysterical carrying on - I thought: Why don't they just calm down and work things out?



    I never entered into the film, and found myself rolling my eyes often - probably not the best attitude to take.



    And as the saying goes 'many young girls at the time where bewitched by "The Red Shoes" and decided to follow the course of the ballet.
    The Red Shoes has a large following here in the US. It is well known and loved, and is really a sort of cult film.



    Of course I cannot verify that, but I can verify my own conversion to this art form on the back of this film.
    Interesting. It really is a powerful film in its way - as I watched, I thought "I understand why some people love it, but it isn't for me." I did enjoy watching many scenes and enjoyed the use of color a great deal. The production is excellent. But the theme was too foreign for me.



    The power of The Archers never ceases to amaze me even with such films as 'Black Narcissus' perhaps my penchant or acceptance for nuns in film, lays in the works from Ken Russell's The Devils and the many exploitational videos depicting nuns in the late 70's and early 80's.
    The Devils?



    Oh, now that is a terrible film. Ken Russell at his most nauseating - and that is saying something. Only he could make a genial musical like The Boy Friend into an ugly satire.



    We don't seem to agree on anything - but I am enjoying the conversation.



    These films came later but my awareness of P&P was very much belated - anyway in many ways these films from the Archers are the biggest doorway to cinematic freedom this country has ever encountered on screen.
    I certainly respect that.



    I have mentioned several times how much I enjoy the Powell and Pressburger films, with only one exception - the subject of this thread. It has been an open door for me as well - but of course it is different for a Brit.



    I must admit that A Canterbury Tale had me holding back sobs from the opening credits. I felt like a fool. A few minutes later, I wasn't holding back anymore. By the end I was exhausted.



    Why? I have tried to analyze it and take it apart, and I still do not understand it. It makes no logical sense.



    This beautiful film overwhelmed me - and has each time I have seen it. That scene of Alison seeing the cathedral for the first time from the meadow on the hill and then hearing the invisible travelers is perhaps the sweetest scene I have ever seen. The scene in the train as they arrive at their destination is transcendent.



    I am not British. I am not a pushover for emotional drama. I resist strong emotional responses while watching films. Yet A Canterbury Tale broke through my defenses and knocked me over. Then the same thing happened with The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.



    Why?



    The creators of those films were artists. I think they were also magicians.

  5. #45
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    And as the saying goes 'many young girls at the time where bewitched by "The Red Shoes" and decided to follow the course of the ballet.



    Of course I cannot verify that, but I can verify my own conversion to this art form on the back of this film.
    It's not just a saying.

    Apart from one of the dancers in A Chorus Line saying she started dancing because of The Red Shoes there have been quite a few real dancers who have said it as well. Most notably Darcey Bussell, principal dancer with The Royal Ballet. She said she always wanted to be able to jump into a pair of point shoes and have the laces tie themselves up. And every time it's shown you can be sure that village halls up and down the country will be full of little girls wanting to dance just like Vicky Page.



    I don't see it myself, but I've asked quite a few (when they were grown up a bit) who have been so afflicted/inspired why they were so determined to become a dancer when the film shows how difficult it is and how dangerous it can be. But it seems that the sheer magic and romance of the ballet dancer outweighs all of that



    Steve

  6. #46
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I am not British. I am not a pushover for emotional drama. I resist strong emotional responses while watching films. Yet A Canterbury Tale broke through my defenses and knocked me over. Then the same thing happened with The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

    Why?

    The creators of those films were artists. I think they were also magicians.
    They were.



    Emeric was a master story-teller, he could craft a story like nobody else. When he was interviewed in 1970 for a retrospective in NYC he said "I think that a film should have a good story, a clear story, and it should have, if possible, something which is probably the most difficult thing - it should have a little bit of magic ... Magic being untouchable and very difficult to cast, you can't deal with it at all. You can only try to prepare some nests, hoping that a little bit of magic will slide into them."



    Well the magic certainly slid into those nests for a lot of their major films and especially for A Canterbury Tale. It doesn't really have a plot as such - but magic doesn't have to be explainable or have a reason. It just works



    And Micky Powell, well, he was just Micky. A 100% genius and an artist who found it very hard to make a bad film - although he just about managed occasionally.



    But the real magic was in the partnership which was so much greater than the sum of the parts. And the way they ran The Archers, attracting the very best people in every department and letting them have their head, encouraging them to do their very best work.



    Steve

  7. #47
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    Most notably Darcey Bussell, principal dancer with The Royal Ballet. She said she always wanted to be able to jump into a pair of point shoes and have the laces tie themselves up.

    Steve
    ...and many people have the opinion that Darcy Bussell has ended her ballet career too early, perhaps the effect of The Red Shoes while not only inspiring her warned her of the dangers of carrying on to long.



    Simon

  8. #48
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    I am not British. I am not a pushover for emotional drama. I resist strong emotional responses while watching films. Yet A Canterbury Tale broke through my defenses and knocked me over.
    Yes it does seem to have that effect on me as well, everything our countries fought for in the Second World War seems to be summed up in that film and I mean that - it does not just fall into mawkishness which would of been very easy to do but holds off those cheap feelings for more of an astute and courageous outlook and yet the portentous future seems just around the corner, especially during the cathedral scene.



    Recently I watched one-after-the other A Canterbury Tale and the first half-hour of Saving Private Ryan, I just thought it seemed to fit so well.



    Simon

  9. #49
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    The Devils?

    Oh, now that is a terrible film. Ken Russell at his most nauseating - and that is saying something. Only he could make a genial musical like The Boy Friend into an ugly satire.

    We don't seem to agree on anything - but I am enjoying the conversation.
    Sorry I'm in and out of thread as I'm on the move but yes, If we all agreed life would be boring, I like to disagree as well, as some people can testify



    Simon

  10. #50
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Yes it does seem to have that effect on me as well, everything our countries fought for in the Second World War seems to be summed up in that film and I mean that - it does not just fall into mawkishness which would of been very easy to do but holds off those cheap feelings for more of an astute and courageous outlook and yet the portentous future seems just around the corner, especially during the cathedral scene.
    Yes, indeed - well said. On this we fully agree.



    I only realized recently that I was identifying with the character of Bob Johnson, even though we have nothing in common except our American citizenship. He represents the friendly outsider - and it is one of the many great successes of the film, including John Sweet's performance, that it conveys exactly what it is like for someone from the US visiting Britain.



    Recently I watched one-after-the other A Canterbury Tale and the first half-hour of Saving Private Ryan, I just thought it seemed to fit so well.
    That is a good idea. I can see how they would fit very well.

  11. #51
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    They were.

    Emeric was a master story-teller, he could craft a story like nobody else. When he was interviewed in 1970 for a retrospective in NYC he said "I think that a film should have a good story, a clear story, and it should have, if possible, something which is probably the most difficult thing - it should have a little bit of magic ... Magic being untouchable and very difficult to cast, you can't deal with it at all. You can only try to prepare some nests, hoping that a little bit of magic will slide into them."

    Well the magic certainly slid into those nests for a lot of their major films and especially for A Canterbury Tale. It doesn't really have a plot as such - but magic doesn't have to be explainable or have a reason. It just works

    And Micky Powell, well, he was just Micky. A 100% genius and an artist who found it very hard to make a bad film - although he just about managed occasionally.



    But the real magic was in the partnership which was so much greater than the sum of the parts. And the way they ran The Archers, attracting the very best people in every department and letting them have their head, encouraging them to do their very best work.



    Steve
    I am currently reading Michael Powell: Interviews, edited by David Lazar. I am struck again and again by Powell's criticism of A Canterbury Tale, saying how they missed the boat on that one. That remains my favorite of their films, followed closely by The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. It is curious that he would see it that way.

  12. #52
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    dvdtimes reporting that the BD disk isn't that much better than the French disk that i own. I was afraid of this. Oh well I ordered it anyway.

    DVD Times - Black Narcissus
    Just how much better can it look than the French disc - I really have to ask myself after just purchasing the Institut Lumiere edition which IS fabulous.



    There is surely only so far you can go with these films when it comes to restoring the picture before you actually start changing the way it should look or was originally intended.



    Simon

  13. #53
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Just how much better can it look than the French disc - I really have to ask myself after just purchasing the Institut Lumiere edition which IS fabulous.

    There is surely only so far you can go with these films when it comes to restoring the picture before you actually start changing the way it should look or was originally intended.

    Simon
    There is a risk that the higher detail will only make the flaws more visible. The DVD Times article on the Blu-Ray release mentions things like the grain and the dirt on the print being more visible on Blu-Ray. Does that add to the experience? Is it "as the director intended"? They also mention the French DVD (& other DVDs) being less sharp but also the changes they made to the contrast and the colour boosting. There are a lot of controls to play with when you digitise something and it's hard to say which is the more accurate.



    For myself, I'm definitely in the "as the director intended" camp. And I'd go as far as to say that my best experiences in seeing this or any of the other films have always been to see them projected from film onto a large screen. That's how they were made to be seen.



    I feel that any digitisation loses something, although Blu-ray and other HD digitisations might lose less than other processes. And to save space on the DVD they do tend to use some techniques like predicting a jump cut and having shadows of the next scene before the cut. These are apparent if you run it through a jump cut scene frame by frame and although they're not obvious when you're watching it at full speed, there might be something that registers subconsciously which makes certain jump cuts less dramatic.



    But there is a problem with BN in particular that if you see it in a pristine print on a big screen then some of the joins are visible where they do the mattes and hanging miniatures. But even with those, it's still a beautiful film and a joy to see.



    Steve

  14. #54
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    I meant to post this earlier, but I finally watched the BD. I have to disagree with the review earlier - its just fantastic on my 46inch LCD and PS3. I have not seener finer presentation of this classic.

  15. #55
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I meant to post this earlier, but I finally watched the BD. I have to disagree with the review earlier - its just fantastic on my 46inch LCD and PS3. I have not seener finer presentation of this classic.
    When Sister Ruth goes to see Mr Dean, he rejects her and she gets angry so there's a wash of red across the screen. Then she faints. What colour does the screen go when she faints?



    Steve

  16. #56
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    There is a risk that the higher detail will only make the flaws more visible. The DVD Times article on the Blu-Ray release mentions things like the grain and the dirt on the print being more visible on Blu-Ray. Does that add to the experience? Steve
    Well as long as they are film-related I don't mind. The problem is a lot of the technicians that work on some of these titles overdo it with the digital cleaning tools and you finish up with digital related artifacts, that are to me far harder to deal with than film-related ones.

    I don't believe that blu-ray makes the viewing experience any worse with regard to grain I think it enhances it. The exception is when you view any optical dissolves, any shots that are 'blown-up' or dupe shots that replace footage in original negatives etc. that are a generation or more away from the 'original footage' there is definately a big jump in quality which is not as bad when you are watching it on standard def. As long as they use the earliest generation film materials they can put their hands on there shouldn't be a problem.

    When they try to remove film grain you finish up with problems like "Patton" and "The Longest Day", and many more which I have seen on Satellite HD broadcast, that finish up with an 'overclean' or 'plastic' appearance.

  17. #57
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    I may have missed something whenever I've viewed this Movie, but is it ever explained why Sister Clodagh had given up her seemingly idyllic former life in Ireland to become a Nun?

  18. #58
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I may have missed something whenever I've viewed this Movie, but is it ever explained why Sister Clodagh had given up her seemingly idyllic former life in Ireland to become a Nun?
    Because Con, who we see in the flashbacks, decided to go to America to seek his fortune - rather than stay in Ireland and marry her. And, as she confesses to Mr Dean, "I had shown I loved him"



    Steve

  19. #59
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    Because Con, who we see in the flashbacks, decided to go to America to seek his fortune - rather than stay in Ireland and marry her. And, as she confesses to Mr Dean, "I had shown I loved him"

    Steve
    Cheers Steve, strange what being 'rejected in love' can do to people!, the scenes by the Lake have come back to me if not the dialogue



    I guess if Con had really loved her he would have asked Clodagh to go with him, or did he?

  20. #60
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Agreed on all three counts Steve..........must try to get down to Leornardslee this Spring

    I'm full of admiration for whoever the Painter(s) were who created the stunning landscapes in this film, where the Nun's are seen working the land I never would have guessed it was all in the Studio!

    LEONARDSLEE lakes & gardens
    Yes, we must try (again) to organise a picnic or something down there in the spring.

    I'll just sit there like the Holy Man and have the ladies bring me offerings



    The paintings are superb. I saw it once screened in The Arts Club in Mayfair. Some of the earlier backdrops got a few appreciative murmurs but the vertiginous drop below the bell tower got a spontaneous round of applause.





    (That view but the first shot of it, when there aren't any clouds in the valley)



    That one was painted by Peter Ellenshaw who went on to do matte painting for Disney on films like Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Oscar nominated) and The Black Hole (Oscar winner). Before he went to America Peter also worked on AMOLAD, The Red Shoes, The Thief of Bagdad and quite a few others. He wasn't always credited on screen but he did some great work.



    Peter was the adopted son of W. Percy Day ("Poppa" Day) who was a regular with The Archers from The Thief of Bagdad onwards. He did all the visual effects for them, not just matte paintings.



    Steve

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