Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Innocents (1961) Review

Film Cover
The Innocents (1961) is a horror film directed by Jack Clayton and stars Deborah Kerr as Miss Giddens, Meg Jenkins as Mrs. Grose, Martin Stephens as Miles, and Pamela Franline as Flora. The film follows the life of Miss Giddens of how the Governess takes care of the orphaned children only to discover that there is more than meets the eye in the siblings.
Quint's ghostly appearence on the window whilst possessing Miles

Set in 19th century Britain, the film attempts to create a psychological film set around the life of Miss Giddens. Based on Henry James’ “Turn of the screw”, the film uses elements to create dark, mysterious horror into the film such as exaggerated lighting of the candlelight’s, cockroaches that sprung out of the mouth. “Clayton's filmmaking, mustering frisson by both candle and blazing daylight, could serve as an object lesson in its genre” (Atkinson, 2005)   Long staircases are also used as part of the horror genre, giving the idea of no return as well as ghostly appearances on the windows or out on a very rainy day near the river bed which reflects on the story of how Miss Jessel killed herself.

The innocent siblings with Miss Giddens
The characters is pretty similar to the style of “who dunnit” or “Cluedo” where each character is as mysterious than each other only this time is through the perspective of Miss Giddens, in particular Miles, who looked like a ten year old child but seemed too mature for his age especially in the scene where Miss Giddens gives him a kiss goodnight, Miles kissed her directly on the lips. “Meanwhile, slow fades and a bravura dream sequence hint at the blurring of boundaries – between life and death, rationality and imagination – that so disturbs Miss Giddens, endowed by Kerr with a frisson of hysteria from the start. Whatever is happening, she knows it is ‘something secretive and whispery and indecent’” (Walters, 2006)  The siblings play an innocent-yet- mysterious pair of children where sharing secrets could either be a good thing or that they’re creating something sinister. “Kerr runs a wide gamut of emotions in a difficult role in which she has to start with an uncomplicated portrayal and gradually find herself involved in strange, unnatural goings-on, during which she sometimes doubts her own sanity. Clayton has also coaxed a couple of remarkable pieces of playing from the two youngsters, Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin, extraordinary blends of innocence and sophistry.” (Varity Staff, 1960)
Miles kissing Miss Giddens

The strangeness of the film is how it ends. With Miles dead whilst on Miss Gidden’s lap as she cradles him after Quint appearing on the hedges when Miss Giddens urges Miles to “say him name” and Quint clasping his hands before disappearing, it gives the audience a question of whether Miles was actually got set free or was the “clasping” of the hand a symbolism of “I has taken your soul” this is for the audience to decide.

List of Illustrations:

Clayton, J (1961) Film Cover (online): - (Accessed on 30/11/2011)
 S, Biodrowski (2008) The Innocents - Retrospective Review (online):
Clayton, J (1961) The innocent siblings with Miss Giddens (online): - (Accessed on 30/11/2011)
Clayton, J (1961) Miles kissing Miss Giddens (online): - (Accessed on 30/11/2011)
Atkinson, M (2005) Resurrecting an Unsung Horror Gem (online): - (Accessed on 30/11/2011)

Walters, B (2006) The Innocents – (1961) (online): - (Accessed on 30/11/2011)

Variety Staff (1960) The Innocents (online): - (Accessed on 30/11/2011)

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