by Gary Morris
In Craig McCall’s short documentary Painting with Light, included on The Criterion Collection’s fabulous new DVD of Black Narcissus, Kathleen Byron, who plays the mad nun in the film, says of director Michael Powell, "He gave me half of my performance with the lighting." This comment, an unnecessarily modest one given Byron’s brilliant impersonation of Sister Ruth, points up both the pleasures and pitfalls of the film. Splendidly presented in a new digital transfer on a DVD loaded with extras, Black Narcissus is one of the high points of color design in cinema, extravagantly beautiful in its probing of emotional states through color.
Go to the review