An amazing film. This is a true horror film. It is a haunted house story, with the place of the ghosts taken by human fallibility.
Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr) is placed in charge of a newly-opened convent high in the Himalayas and the repsonsibility is clearly too great to bear from the outset. Her responses are confused and well-meaning but desperate. Once we begin to learn of her life before taking up her vows, it becomes clear that her faith is not as strong as might have been presumed. Indeed of all of the Nuns, only Sister Briony (Judith Furse) appears to have the same faith and devotion at the end of the film that she did at the start.
The stand-out acting performance, though, is given by Kathleen Byron as Sister Ruth- cracking under the pressure of her orders, the isolation and suppressed lust. She is magnificent and, in a flash of her eyes at Sister Clodagh, registers so much hatred and jealousy that it speaks more than mere words could.
I specified that hers was the stand-out acting performance, as the stand-out performance here must surely go to cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Using (well-designed) sets, he frames an epic film beautifully.
Powell and Pressburger have created here a dramatic, engrossing and thoroughly believable psychological thriller that is years ahead of contemporary standards of daring and innovation. As the film progresses, each layer of intrigue builds relentlessly. This is an absolute masterclass in film-making.
Like many great films, I’ve little doubt that this would improve with repeated viewings (even if some of the casually racist sentiments expressed by the characters are distasteful). 10/10.