《思凡》:思覺糾纏與成魔之路new



BN 2

在思覺邊緣行走,如同在山峰嶺上如刀鋒路途中躡足而行,稍有差池,便即刻失去平衡,墮落到深谷山底,萬劫不復。更有甚者,事件中的墮落意識發放出來的感染力,會深深影響到聽聞者,日後結聚成為聽聞者心中的魔鬼。

《思凡》是一部由開始至結尾都懾動人心的電影,戲劇上隱藏着淋漓盡致的情慾糾纏,在電影史上早已揚名立萬。但由1947年公映以來,這部電影啟動了後輩電影人的心靈,尤其是形象視覺的處理,你可以找到不少往後的電影回應。從思覺性範疇作為課題了解,更明白電影帶出來的視聽科藝,籍着戲劇最能表現人類思維的迷宮。

女修士成魔的傳聞早已有之,亦常會作為心理學課題的描述。例如波蘭導演卡瓦萊羅維奇(Jerzy Kawalerowicz)在1961年改編法國真實案件的《魔鬼與修女》(Mother Joan of the Angels),以及英國導演簡羅素(Ken Russell)在1971拍攝的《群魔》(The Devils),都是講述修女成魔的經典電影。

在《思凡》中,被委派上山工作的五位女修士(Clodagh, Ruth, Honey, Briony及Philippa),各有戲劇線描繪,各人都有不同的心理描述,條理清晰之餘,亦反映當時戰後西方女性的心態。當中以Sister Clodagh作為人物中心點,利用身份不同的對比,來突顯大家的思覺性分歧。尤其以Mr. Dean為幫助修士們儘快對東方印度人了解的平民少女Kanchi,對比東方與西方的文化分別。亦以片首由Mr. Dean傳來的信件在描述Mopu的風土人情時,道出當地的女人(Kanchi就是例子):女人就是女人之言,對比東西分別,男女的思緒大不同。

《思凡》中的眾位女修士,本來全部都應該是一如天使心腸的人傑精英,但大家都在東西交匯之高山上被邪風吹襲,初時遇上不同的風土人情,至後來的孩子生病,對田園種植的爭駁,還有最關鍵的,是源於兩個非凡的男人(Mr. Dean及The Young General),每次出場都令修女們思潮起伏,甚至勾起以為已經放下的前塵往事。結果,有人懸崖立馬,有人落荒而逃,但最悲劇的是Sister Ruth因為嫉妒,最終成了紅衣魔女,因生起殺意行為,結果身敗名裂,墜落谷底之中。

眾位修女都是推動教育人仕,最初Sister Clodagh接受任命時,對Sister Ruth早有戒心,誰知在山上遇見非凡的Mr. Dean時,始知兩個女人,一個心定,只不過生出一些關於往事的浮躁記憶。反而另一個(Ruth)變得進取,在決定還俗離開高山之前,深夜去找Mr. Dean時決定道出心底愛。原來,兩個女修士都是兩生花式冤家命。

修道人本來尋求清心寡慾,追求內心的寧靜,尋找一個人心中的平靜位。但在教廷中,各有崗位,當有任命在身時,在外界受到的誘惑,尤其是去到陌生地方,初到貴境時,自我心中的執著影響判斷。Sister Ruth由白衣修女終於變成紅衣魔女,至今仍然令人看得驚魂奪魄。最後利用色彩變成紅色的主觀鏡頭,來表達Sister Ruth因思覺崩潰,更甚是這個精心設計的經典形象,藉着電影創作而不斷輪迴。《思凡》集中描繪上世代戰後人性的弱點,以此作為四十年代的警號。

最近由溫子仁改編美國靈探夫婦的真實案例改編拍成電影的靈異驚慄電影系列,尤其是2018年公映的《詭修女》(The Nun),從故事的處理(如起首修女接受上山的任務),以及成魔修女的視覺形象處理,都如出一轍。

上世紀1947年至今引發很多不平凡事件至今懸而未決,例如那一年的羅茲威爾事件以及美國空軍在北極的經歷引發地球空心說,至今仍未放下爭議。同年公映的《思凡》,當中的不平凡影像處理,引發視覺創作的神秘學,以及修女成魔的形象,至今仍然一次又一次以電影方式傳頌下來,引發大家思潮起伏。

BN 10

Obsession and Possession Black Narcissus

The psyche is a tightrope indeed. A false step will take you down to the abyss. The memory of a person's fall might linger on and become a demon inspiring others to the same fate.

Black Narcissus is spellbinding from the first reel to the last. A story of obsession, it has long been recognized as a timeless classic and inspires future filmmakers, especially by its visual aspects. Its cinematic elements brings to life the indecipherable labyrinth of the psyche.

Throughout the ages there have been notable cases of nuns losing their minds, even becoming case studies for psychological researches. Jerzy Kawalerowicz's Mother Joan of the Angels (1961) and Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) are based on the same historical incident of demonic possession in a nunnery.

The five nuns of Black Narcissus (Clodagh, Ruth, Honey, Briony and Philippa) are each assigned distinct story lines and psychological traits that reflect various types of post-war women. The other characters, with their different backgrounds, have their psychotic differences revolve around Clodagh, the centre of the plot. Mr. Dean bridges the gap between Occidental and Oriental cultures by reconciling the differences of Kanchi and the nuns. On the other hand, in Mr. Dean's letter early in the film, he stresses that "women are women", referring to the local people. East and west might come together, but men and women are different creatures.

The nuns are supposed to have hearts of gold. But struck by the mountain gales, they find it difficult to handle a different culture and argue among themselves on various matters. Most importantly are the presence of two remarkable men, Mr. Dean and the young general, who make the nuns head over heels. Past memories evoked, some of the nuns manage to get a grip of themselves but some choose to leave. Sister Ruth meets a tragic end. She can't control her jealousy and becomes a "red demon". She attempts murder but ends up falling to her death.  

Clodagh sees something wrong in Ruth very early on. She and Ruth are attracted by the charismatic Mr. Dean. Clodagh keeps her composure. Ruth loses hers and confesses her love to Mr. Dean. Clodagh and Ruth are a pair of perfect foes.

Clerics are to live a life of asceticism to achieve inner peace. But they also have their earthly duties and therefore put to the test. Adapting to a new locale is an occasion where obsession takes hold of sound judgement. I still feel shocked in seeing Ruth transforming from a "white nun" to a "red demon". The overpowering redness symbolizes Ruth's mental collapse. Such imagery has since become standard cinematic vocabulary. Black Narcissus is also a warning to the human weakness of the post-war generation.

From James Wan's The Conjuring series and The Nun (2018), I find many elements that resemble those of Black Narcissus. Namely, the story treatment (the nun taking on a mission) and the visualization of the possessed nun.

Many supernatural incidents from 1947 onward are left unsolved. In 1947 there's the Roswell UFO incident and Admiral Byrd's North Pole expedition that brought on the highly-contested Hollow Earth Theory. Likewise Black Narcissus' unorthodox visuals and the image of the possessed nun continue to haunt us to this day.

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