Black Narcissus

Feature Film UK 1947

A group of Anglican nuns from a monastery near Calcutta decide to open a mission hospital in Tibet. Welcomed by the local authorities, they take up quarters in an old castle of an Indian prince. Things appear to go well thanks to the help of Dean, a representative of the English government, who mediates between the nuns and the local population. They also receive the support of Dilip Rai, a young Indian prince eager to improve his knowledge of Western customs. But despite the nuns’ good intentions, they encounter stiff diffidence from the local population which is still rooted in its ancient traditions. The people’s mistrust, the hostile climate (relentless winds), and the remnants of the old harem the former owner kept in the castle render the nuns’ life impossible. The tense atmosphere breaks when the nuns fail to save the life of a sick little girl brought to their ambulatory. Ruth, a young novice, goes mad and tries to kill the mother superior. Forced to admit their complete failure, they close the mission and return to Calcutta.

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