Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Plot: A group of Anglican nuns from Calcutta are sent to set up a mission to provide education and medical aid in the province of Mopu in the Himalayas. Their base is the site of an abandoned palace that brings many challenges, both physical and spiritual.
Background: Black Narcissus is based on the 1939 novel of the same name by Rumer Godden. The first screen adaptation was released back in 1947 starring Deborah Kerr and David Farrar. The film achieved acclaim for its pioneering use of technical mastery of vibrant colours which was particularly rare around the time of its release.
Review: One of the main reasons that I didn’t enjoy this miniseries as much as I did the original 1947 version is the mere fact that I thought it was unnecessary to draw out this story for as long as three episodes. It causes the it to drag and misses the mark on the fact that it is supposed to be a psychological drama. And even with the screenplay stretched out like that I still found that I couldn’t connect as emotionally as I did with the 1947 counterpart.
The most iconic and memorable character for me was that of Sister Ruth who back then was played by British actress Kathleen Byron. She made quite the impression upon me as a nun who gets so obsessed and corrupted by her suppressed desires to the point of utter madness. Plus, I don’t think that it helped by placing her in such a remote out-of-the-way environment where her emotions were allowed to fester to the point of no return. I always remembered how shocked I was to see the decline of her health, and where the character had these dark circles under her eyes to the point of looking almost sinister. The way the camera would pan towards the actress’s face and close-up on her eyes to show just how unhinged the character became was brilliant, especially for its time.
But, unfortunately actress Aisling Franciosi as Sister Ruth missed the mark for me. She didn’t connect well to the slow-rising insanity of the character and that’s why the ending fell very flat.
The series became very tasking after awhile as it became more about the drama and less on the psychological aspect of the story. There were also some flashbacks that were plain distracting and didn’t succeed in adding anything vital to the story itself. To add to the disappointment the supporting characters became like mere window-dressing because there was no character development.
Although the cinematography in the new series is far superior, we must keep in mind that they were filmed in two totally different eras. What matters the most here is the presentation of the main story, and in my opinion you can still watch the 1947 version because it stands up extremely well against the test of time, and still has the desired dramatic effect to make your jaw literally drop.
Alice’s Score: 5 out of 10
For my review of Rebecca, another modern take on a classic film, you can click here.
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.
I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.