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Movie Fact #38 - September 24th, 2020


The 1947 film Black Narcissus is famous for making extensive use of matte paintings and large-scale landscape paintings. Credited to W. Percy Day, these paintings are made to suggest the mountainous environment of the Himalayas as well as some scale models for motion shots of the convent. An example of the application is show below in a before-and-after shot.

It was an odd move for Michael Powell (Who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Emeric Pressburger). Powell, up until this movie, was known for his love of location shooting. Yet, for this film he became fascinated with the idea of shooting as much of the filming in-studio as possible. His reason for it was as follows:

"Our mountains were painted on glass. We decided to do the whole thing in the studio and that's the way we managed to maintain colour control to the very end. Sometimes in a film its theme or its colour are more important than the plot."

In short, the use of bolder colors helped the film's themes of lust and temptations of the vibrancy of life appear more visually striking. Stay tuned!

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