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NOT THE OTHER

Tag: sisters

Amica Aeternum

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Black Narcissus

Title Shot

A group of Anglican nuns travel to a remote location in the Himalayas (the Palace of Mopu, near Darjeeling) to set up a school and hospital for the local people, only to find themselves increasingly seduced by the sensuality of their surroundings in a converted seraglio high up in the mountains, and by the local British agent Mr Dean (David Farrar). Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), the Sister Superior, is attempting to forget a failed romance at home in Ireland. Tensions mount as Dean’s laid-back charm makes an impression on Clodagh, but also attracts the mentally unstable Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron), who becomes pathologically jealous of Clodagh, resulting in a nervous breakdown and a violent climax. In a subplot, ‘the Young General’ (Sabu), heir to the throne of a princely Indian state who has come to the convent for his education, becomes infatuated with Kanchi, a lower caste dancing girl (Jean Simmons).

Dancer

Black Narcissus achieved acclaim for its pioneering technical mastery and shocked audiences at the time of release with its vibrant colour and the themes of the film. Audiences gasped at some of the scenes, notably the shot of the vibrant pink flowers, which shown on the big screen was a spectacle at the time. The film’s clever use of lighting and techniques have had a profound impact on later film makers, notably Martin Scorsese who used the extreme close ups technique of the nuns for Tom Cruise’s character around the pool table in Color of Money. Martin Scorsese has said that the film is one of the earliest erotic films, in the last quarter of the film in particular, which caused controversy given its Roman Catholic content. The film was one of his favourites as a boy, and Scorsese has stated that one of the greatest experiences he has had with film is viewing Black Narcissus projected on a massive screen at the Director’s Guild in 1983. In Michael Powell’s own view this was the most erotic film he ever made. “It is all done by suggestion, but eroticism is in every frame and image from beginning to end. It is a film full of wonderful performances and passion just below the surface, which finally, at the end of the film, erupts”.

Deborah Kerr

Bill Ray and the Hells Angels of San Berdoo 1965

biker

“This was a new breed of rebel,” Bill Ray told LIFE.com, recalling his time with the Angels. “They didn’t have jobs, of course. They absolutely despised everything that most Americans value and strive for — stability, security. They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days at a time, fought with anyone who messed with them. They were self-contained, with their own set of rules, their own code of behavior. It was extraordinary to be around.”

On the road

Ray spent some of the time with the Angels on a ride from San Bernardino (about 40 miles east of Los Angeles) to Bakersfield, California, for a major motorcycle rally. The Berdoo-Bakersfield run is a trip of only about 130 miles — but in 1965, it would offer enough moments (both placid and violent) for Ray to paint a rare, revelatory portrait of the world’s most legendary motorcycle club in its early days. The way in which the story came about, meanwhile, was as dramatic and unexpected as Bill Ray’s pictures.

talk to the hand

“It was exhilarating being around them, there’s no question about it,” Ray says. “You just never knew what they were going to do. You’re always kind of on edge, because — think about it! — these people have a lot of time to waste. They don’t punch a clock, so they fill the time drinking beer, smoking pot, screwing around. There was always a sense that anything could happen at any minute. Things could go from light-hearted to tense, and from tense to very scary, pretty goddamn quick.”

Biker Chicks

Ray and Joe Bride spent more than a month with the Angels in the spring of ’65, “mostly on weekends,” Ray remembers, “but the Bakersfield run was around the clock, three days and nights.” In Bakersfield,” remembers Ray, “I slept on the floor of the Blackboard Cafe — the bar that the Angels basically lived in while they were there.”

Brothers in Arms

“There’s a romance to the idea of the biker on the open road,” Ray says. “It’s similar to the romance that people attach to cowboys and the West — which, of course, is totally out of proportion to the reality of riding fences and punching cows. But no doubt, there’s something impressive about these Harley-Davidsons and bikers heading down the highway. You see the myth played out in movies, like Easy Rider, which came out a few years after I photographed the Angels. You know, the trail never ends for the cowboy, and the open road never ends for the Angels. They just ride. Where they’re going hardly matters. It’s not an easy life, but it’s what they choose. It’s theirs. And everyone else can get out of the way or go to hell.”

Up Yours Biker Chick

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