What Makes the Governess Change Her Behaviors?

         Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) looked so nice in her light-colored blouses in the film at the beginning of the 1961 film, The Innocents, based on the 1950 play, The Innocents, by William Archibald, which was taken from Henry James’s 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw. However, as her clothes become darker, she becomes creepier as the movie goes on. She wanders more and more around in the house, carrying the candles at night. At one point, after hearing ominous noises in her head, she turns over and over again on the floor to look around, an action that was filmed from above. Her relationship with the two children is creepier in the movie than it is in the book and play.

         Miss Giddens’ interaction with the dark-haired older, more sinister, Flora (Pamela Franklin) also is creepier in the movie than it was in the book, in which she was a sweet, blond child, and even in the play. Miles is more sarcastic in the film than he is in the novel. After Miss Giddens has forced her to confront her relationship with Miss Jessel, Flora keeps on screaming and screaming for hours, yelling filthy words and hatred towards her governess, even after Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins) has tried to comfort her.

         I could not understand Miss Giddens’ behavior, especially towards Miles (Martin Stephens). He is more sinister than he is in the novel and the play because of his behaviors. He gives her his uncanny smile with his sister, Flora, from upstairs; and his voice gets more whispery as if he must have been full of wickedness in his mind, and his eyes becomes somewhat look vacant and far away as the story goes on. He sometimes talks as if he were a mature person. Those ones are scary to her and make her decide that ghosts must exist in his mind in the film.

         She kisses him twice in the film, not on the cheek, but lingeringly on his lips, the second time after he has died. I thought she might be a sexual deviate or have some sort of mental disorder. I cannot find that she has behaved as creepy like that in the play or in the novella.

         The final scene in the movie, when Miles dies, is different from the scene in the book and the play. In the book, his heart just stops, and the stage directions in the play describe him as crumbling and then falling down with his heart stopping. In the movie, he becomes more and more hysterical, as he is covered with sweat, before he yells out, “Peter Quint, you devil” and collapses.

         As can be seen by the above examples, Miss Giddens and the two children are far creepier in the movie The Innocents than they are in the book and play.

Maki Ogino

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