Black Narcissus is one of two roles Dame Diana Rigg did before her death. Here she plays Mother Dorothea. Her character chooses the religious group to go from Nepal to set up a branch of their order. The order’s new home is in the Himalayas at the remote palace of Mopu.

Black Narcissus - Diana Rigg
Black Narcissus – Mother Dorothea (Diana Rigg) ©2020 BBC

This is an adaptation of Rumer Godden’s iconic tale of sexual repression and forbidden love. It is destined for the FX channel and later BBC.

Black Narcissus Movie

Many may have seen the Black Narcissus 1947 film. It was adapted then for the screen by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and caused quite a bit of religious controversy. There was even a bit of censorship to what was filmed. With a scene cut only to be restored when it was re-released in the USA in the 1980s. However, this did not stop it winning two Oscars at the time. One was for Cinematography (Jack Cardiff) and the other Art Direction (Alfred Junge).

It will be interesting to see how this version differs and if it can live up to such high esteem.

Life after death

Check out the Black Narcissus Trailer and full lowdown below. Watch out for the brief glimpse of Diana Rigg. When your an actress there is always life after death! Bless her for these memories.

Black Narcissus Trailer

Black Narcissus Lowdown

This haunting love story here is returned to its original setting in the 1930s. The mini-series follows Sister Clodagh (Arterton) and the nuns of St Faiths. They travel to Nepal to set up a branch of their order in the remote palace of Mopu.

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus – Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton) ©2020 BBC

Unfettered sensuality

We have the unfettered sensuality of the so-called House of Women. Here Sister Clodagh finds herself increasingly attracted to the handsome and damaged land agent, Mr Dean (Nivola). But as the repressed memories of Clodagh’s past become entangled with the tragic history of Princess Srimati, history seems doomed to repeat itself.

Black Narcissus
Something going on in the dark bedroom ©2020 BBC

Are there really ghosts here in the new how is in the Himalayas, or are the nuns just succumbing to long-repressed primal desires? And which of them is prepared to die – or kill – for love?

Black Narcissus
Palace of Mopu ©2020 BBC

Cast and Crew

The cast includes:-

  • Gemma Arterton (The King’s Man, The Escape) as Sister Clodagh
  • Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, Chimerica) as Mr Dean
  • Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale, I Know This Much Is True) as Sister Ruth
  • Diana Rigg (Game Of Thrones, Victoria) as Mother Dorothea
  • Jim Broadbent (Paddington, Paddington 2, The Iron Lady) as Father Roberts
Black Narcissus - Jim Broadbent
Black Narcissus – Father Roberts (Jim Broadbent) ©2020 BBC
  • Gina McKee (Catherine The Great, Bodyguard) as Sister Adela
  • Rosie Cavaliero (Prey, Unforgotten) as Sister Briony
  • Patsy Ferran (Tom And Jerry, Jamestown) as Sister Blanche
  • Karen Bryson (MotherFatherSon, Safe) as Sister Philippa
  • and Dipika Kunwar as Kanchi, making her television debut

The three part series was filmed in Jomsom, Nepal and Pinewood Studios, UK, at the end part of last year.

Directed by Charlotte Bruus Christensen from a screenplay by Bafta award-winning writer Amanda Coe.

Black Narcissus
Black Narcissus – Sister Clodagh (Gemma Arterton) views the surrounding Himalayas ©2020 BBC

The mini-series premieres all three episodes on Monday, November 23rd, 2020, on FX at 8 pm ET/PT. It will then be available the next day on Hulu. In the UK the BBC are due to show it later, sometime in December 2020.

Colin Davies

The editor of Film Review Online