It's Like 'The Shining', But With Nuns: On 'Black Narcissus'

Episode 62 · December 18th, 2019 · 1 hr 33 mins

About this Episode

The 1947 British film Black Narcissus is many things: an allegory of the end of empire, a chilling ghost story with nary a spook in sight, a psychological romance, and a meditation on the nature of the divine. Its weirdness is as undeniable as it is difficult to locate. On the surface, the story is straightforward: five nuns are tasked with opening a convent in the former seraglio of a dead potentate in the Himalayas. But on a deeper level, there is a lot more going on, as Phil and JF discover in this conversation touching on the presence of the past, the monstrosity of God, the mystery of the singular, and the eroticism of prayer, among other strangenesses.


Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburged (dirs.), Black Narcissus
Rumer Godden, author of the original novel

Stanley Kubrick, The Shining
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition
Tim Ingold, British anthropologist -- lecture: "One World Anthropology"
Jonathan Demme (dir.), The Silence of the Lambs
Pierre Bourdieu, French sociologist
Bruno Latour, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods
Don Barhelme, American short story writer
Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher
Weird Studies episode 16: On Dogen Zenji's Genjokoan
The King and the Beggar Maid
Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers
“Painting with Light,” featurette on the Criterion Collection DVD of Black Narcissus