And the Award Goes to…

      And the award for best setting and lighting goes to director Jack Clayton for the 1961 movie The Innocents. Also accompanying Jack to the stand is cinematographer, Freddie Francis. These two men did an outstanding job of recreating Henry James's 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw, into a film. The set that was designed for the film was outstanding, especially for its time. My favorite part of the film was the lighting, accompanied by the cinematography. Following is an explanation of why these men deserved an Oscar for the film The Innocents.

      The year was 1961; Jack Clayton produced and directed the black and white film The Innocents. The lighting techniques, as well as the cinematography, that were used in this movie heightened the sense that the ghosts portrayed in the film were real. The ghosts constantly work on the nerves of the governess, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr). The viewers were able to witness this through the use of lighting techniques, as well as camera shots. Throughout the entire film, it seems to be nighttime. The house is lit with candles, giving the whole set a kind of soft glow. Whenever the actors would move about the set, there seemed to be some kind of spotlight on them, creating a very black and white situation. What I mean by that is whoever is holding the candle has the spotlight on him or her; he or she was very white. Outside of the candlelight everything is black. With many shots of scared Miss Giddens traveling through the house like this, it gave the film a spooky feel. Other ways I feel the lighting was done well can be seen in the shots of the children by the lake. It is a gloomy day; a perfect day for the ghost of Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) to appear. The lack of any kind of bright lighting in the entire film casts a spell of ghostly gloominess over the entire set.

      A camera shot that worked particularly well with the lighting was in the hallway. In this scene, Miss Giddens is in the hallway, wandering about because she suspects the ghosts or children are up to something. The sounds start getting louder and louder as her candlelight is bright around her. The camera seems to twist and turn so one gets views of the ceiling, the floor, and Miss Giddens. All of this twisting and turning adds to the confusion. The viewer is brought into the film by this shot. By the end of the scene, Miss Giddens is on the ground, pulling out her hair. One feels that the ghosts have truly gotten to her. There are several other camera shots that made this film a strong one. The use of the camera's being really close or far away from an object or person helped with the overall film. A close camera shot that made one jump occurs when the bug comes out of the garden statue's mouth. If this had been filmed so one could see very thing around the statue, it would not have been nearly as strong.

      The overall film for its time was very spooky. All of the different actors that were picked for their parts were chosen by sound decisions. Everything in a film has to work together in order to make it a strong film. I think all aspects of this film were covered very well, from actors to set design to lighting. Today this film could be remade (without as much censorship) and be one of the top at the box office.

Rachael Zaudke

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