Black Narcissus, the 1947 film based on author Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel, is getting a substantially stylized update (of the already-stylized film classic,) in the realm of peak television by way of FX’s November-scheduled miniseries. With Gemma Arterton as its headliner, the miniseries will showcase a surreal tale of eroticism, darkness and futility centered on a group of nuns in a Himalayan palace.
Amanda Coe (The Trial of Christine Keeler) wrote the adaptation script for the three-part miniseries, which was directed by Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Between Us). Interestingly, the element of stunning Himalayan cinematography will be prominent in the FX miniseries, just as with the 1947 film, which, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburgher, won two Oscars in 1948, one of which was for cinematography. Indeed, Christensen was a longtime cinematographer who only recently transitioned to behind the camera.
On that note, check out the trailer for FX’s Black Narcissus just below.
The series is set in Mopu, Himalayas in 1934, the twilight era of British colonial rule in India; an idea that factors prominently into the story’s context. The story follows a group of young Anglican nuns of St. Faith who venture to a remote clifftop to occupy a palace donated by a local General to use as a convent for the “House of Women.” However, while the act of donating the property was designed to cleanse figurative ghosts from the palace’s past as a house of hedonism, it still seems to awaken the dormant and/or repressed desires of the nuns, each of whom are haunted by respective pasts that initially led them to this cloistered lifestyle. Consequently, escalating emotions and temptation from some of the locals will put the nuns on a fatalistic collision with tragedy.
Gemma Arterton stars here as Sister Clodagh, the role played by headliner Deborah Kerr in the original film, who is the primary character of the story and appointed leader of the nuns. Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale, Game of Thrones) co-stars here as the disturbed Sister Ruth. They are joined in the cast by names such as Jim Broadbent, Gina McKee, Alessandro Nivola, Nila Aalia, Rosie Cavaliero, Karen Bryson, Kulvinder Ghir, Patsy Ferran, Gianni Gonsalves, Chaneil Kular, Dipika Kunwar and Soumil Malla.
Additionally, the late, great Dame Diana Rigg plays the role of Clodagh’s boss, Mother Dorthea, making this an onscreen union of former Bond Girls (each of whom met ill fates onscreen), with Arterton having played Strawberry Fields in 2008’s Quantum of Solace opposite Daniel Craig, and Rigg having played Tracy, the wife of Agent 007, in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the franchise’s one-and-done starring run of Australian actor George Lazenby. The Black Narcissus role will serve as the penultimate part for Rigg, whose known final credited role will be in director Edgar Wright’s 2021-scheduled thriller, Last Night in Soho. Arterton, on the other hand, will next be seen on the big screen in director Matthew Vaughn’s 2021-scheduled Kingsman prequel, The King’s Man.
Black Narcissus Release Date
Black Narcissus will premiere on FX on Monday, November 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The episodes will be available to stream on FX on Hulu the day after they air.