East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The same name but a different scent: Black Narcissus (2020)

There are two titles, two TV series, I’ve been expecting with much anticipation in this End of the Year time: one is the forthcoming new French Arséne Lupin series, and the other is the BBC co-produced adaptation of Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus.
Both titles are an important part of my past, both promise a different take on a classic, both are right up my alley, in both cases the bar is set very high.
And tonight, I spent three hours watching Black Narcissus.
So what follows is sort of an instant-blog.

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That was seventy years ago

Black Narcissus is a movie by Powell & Pressburger, the British film-makers also known as The Archers. It is a gorgeously-filmed psychological drama set during the last days of the British presence in India. It is my favorite Archers movie (with A Matter of Life and Death coming a close second) and it’s the sort of movie about which I can bore you to death forever (did I already do a post about it? If I didn’t, I should). The film features Deborah Kerr and the often overlooked but absolutely stunning Kathleen Byron.

I was boring some people to death about this movie last night, and I got an observation that caused me to pause.

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Inhuman beauty – Kathleen Byron

I’m re-watching a number of Powell & Pressburger movies, these nights.
It started with an article I read on the website of the British Film Institute. That made me re-watch A Matter of Life and Death, which led to a post on my Italian blog, and a mention of my favorite Powell & Pressburger movie, Black Narcissus – so I re-watched that one too, and I will post on my Italian blog about it too.
Both movies feature an actress I always found marvelous, but I never followed very much – Kathleen Byron.
She was absolutely beautiful in such a strange, somewhat disquieting way.

Katie 080109a

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