Sister Superior Clodagh and four other Anglican nuns are sent to open a school and clinic deep in the Himalayas. Physically and emotionally overwhelmed by the situation, Sister Clodagh starts reliving a romance from her pre-vow days, while Sister Ruth succumbs to erotic fantasies about local Brit Mr. Dean. When he rejects the lovesick nun’s advances, Ruth turns her rage on Clodagh … This film from the Archers production company was shot in England, almost entirely on back lots. It was as far from British cinema of realism as its colour palette was from what cinematographer Jack Cardiff called the “tyranny” of Technicolor. Powerful primary colours represent all that is profane; saturating walls, floors, clothing, flowers, and mountains, they exert a near physical affect on the white-clad nuns. The cool blue of the mountains provides a stark contrast to Sister Ruth’s delirium, signalized at its acme by a flow of sheer red across the screen. “Colour itself became the emotion of the picture”, fan Martin Scorsese said, praising the “painting with light” of Cardiff, who was inspired by Vermeer’s use of light and van Gogh’s colours. Both he and production designer Alfred Junge won Oscars.
by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
with Deborah Kerr, Sabu, David Farrar
United Kingdom 1947