Innocent Is Bliss

     The Innocents is a tale of a young governess named Miss Giddens (played by Deborah Kerr) who is called upon by an Uncle (Michael Redgrave) to take care of two young orphaned children, Flora and Miles, at Bly House. In this 1961 movie, directed by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, Miss Giddens struggles with obsession and children who are possessed by evil. When the governess tries to rid the children (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin) of these evil creatures, tragedy strikes; and the governess is blamed.

     This was one of my favorite movies this semester. In the 1960s, film had not been perfected, in my opinion, and The Innocents took a giant step towards that label. I have seen many movies in my life, but none with such camera work as The Innocents. The close-ups, fades, and angles were absolutely spectacular. The camera work in this movie made it twice as haunting as it should have been, and the sound effects/music also added to this classic horror movie.

     One of the biggest questions in this movie is whether or not Miss Giddens really saw the ghosts. Was it her imagination, or were they really there, haunting them every single day? In my opinion, the ghosts in this film were very believable. In many films one sees nowadays, ghosts are portrayed in such a different way, almost as monsters. That is not what ghosts are all about. The Innocents portrays the ghosts in a real, believable manner. They are persons, not monsters, who have come back from the dead to haunt the residents, and mainly the governess. Once she originally saw Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde), he came back more often, and towards the middle of the movie I found myself looking for his ghost or that of Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) in every scene.

     The Innocents, with its incredible camera work and sensitive treatment of the lost spirits, was truly a ghost story, and Henry James could be proud of his novel portrayed as a movie.

Thomas Oliviero

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