BLACK Narcissus is a new BBC remake telling the story of repressed nuns working in a convent in the Himalayan mountains.
The original film won an Oscar for its production design – so it's a tough act to follow. Here's where the new BBC adaptation was filmed…
Where was Black Narcissus filmed?
Black Narcissus is set in the fictional colonial Himalayan town of Mopu, a village high up in the Himalayan Mountains.
Unlike the original 1946 movie, which was all filmed on a UK set using elaborate painted backdrops, the new BBC adaptation was actually filmed on location in Nepal.
This may be due to the fact that Rumer Godden, the author of the original book, complained about the inauthenticity of the 1947 movie.
"Everything about it was phoney," she said. "The outside shots were done in a Surrey garden and the Himalayas were just muslin mounted on poles."
So the cast and crew of the BBC remake headed to Jomsom, a village in the Annapurna mountains of Nepal which stands at an altitude of around 2,700 metres.
Jomsom is situated at the base of the peaks of Mount Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri.
Arteton told Radio Times about the experience of filming in Nepal.
She said: “We were so so lucky that we got to go to Nepal, it took us something like two and a half days to get to this final destination which is called Jomsom…
"And when you get there, I mean, the journey itself is so fatiguing, and it’s not even close to what the nuns would have experienced themselves, we had planes and cars and whatnot.
“The air is really thin and you get altitude sickness but it also kind of makes you feel really alive, and it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, so we were so lucky to be able to see that because it’s huge part of why the nuns kind of unravel, the godliness of the place makes them start to question God.
"Just to feel that… it’s in the middle of nowhere, like there was no phone signal, nothing, and we were up there and it was just magic.”
Gemma's co-star Aisling Franciosi spoke about cast's bonding experience while out in Nepal.
She said: “There was no phone reception, no WiFi either, and one of the happy results of that was that we actually became so close so quickly, because we would be sitting around in the evenings around the fire, having a couple of drinks, playing games, chatting; and because none of us could look at our phones or computers it was a nightmare for production in some ways, I’m sure, but it – particularly from the nuns’ point of view, it really gave us a sense of being very very close, which was then a lovely feeling to be able to bring to the scenes in the interiors. I think we got to know each other very quickly.”
She said that the experience actually helped her get into character.
“From my point of view as well, I can only speak for myself but I find that when I’m somewhere where there’s vast beauty and total isolation or even looking for space, I get a crushing feeling of that you don’t matter, you’re irrelevant in a way, which is a very humbling feeling, but it was useful for me personally for Ruth to tap into that irrelevance.”
Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire
As well as being filmed in Nepal, the BBC production team managed to bag a spot at the coveted Pinewood Studios – a prestigious filming studio in Buckinghamshire.
This location was particularly fitting as it is the same studio that the original 1947 movie was filmed.
Karen Bryson, who plays Sister Philippa, spoke about working at the studios.
She said: “I was in awe because the sets were immaculate.”
Filming for Black Narcisuss started in October 2019 and wrapped in December 2019, with the crew flying out to Nepal for a few weeks midway through.
When is Black Narcisuss next on TV?
Black Narcissus began on BBC on December 27 at 9pm.
The two subsequent episodes will air on December 28 and 29 at the same time.
Each episode is an hour in length.
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