Lights, Camera, Scare!

        Casting, and directing a movie version of any literary piece of work is not only complicated to do, but it is tedious and takes a lot of thought input. The directors and writers have to make sure that they cast the correct people to interpret the main characters as accurately as possible, or else the movie does not work. If I had the chance to direct a movie, and incorporate my own style into it, I would focus on the book, The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James in 1898 and first filmed in 1961 as The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton. I think that this book has a lot of potentially terrifying parts, and if filmed right, could be one of the scariest movies of all time.

         For The Turn of the Screw, I would cast an actor for the governesss that not only loves, because of the kind-heartedness she has for children, but also is suspicious and superstitious. I would like to have someone that has darker hair and eyes for this role in the movie. In the book, the reader can tell that she does care about the children, and does want to help them to the best of her ability; however she senses something that she cannot shrug off. The feeling when something is wrong is a hard feeling to ignore; therefore, an actress that can show this through her acting is a must, and it non-negotiable. I think the perfect actress for this part would be Diane Lane, instead of Deborah Kerr, the governess in The Innocents. Diane Lane is not my favorite actress just because I adore her and the movies she is in. I also like her because every role that she is cast in she does a great job at letting the real character shine through. I believe that it would be easy for her to be put in a position to be a mother, a caretaker, and a responsible individual for the children.

         The childrenís part in the book and the movie is trickier. The children, Miles and Flora, in Henry Jamesís novella are sneaky, but they still come off as lovable. It is almost as if they are tricking the governess into a foolish game they are playing, which is more obvious in The Innocents, as played by Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin. The children need to be cute and someone who can capture the love of an audience at one glance, just because they seem so innocent and carefree; however, they are not! There are not too many children in Hollywood that I can say I would like to be cast in this mock-movie I am making. However, I do think that casting children that have been undiscovered will help out the role of Miles and Flora, which are the names of the two children, immensely. Because the audience does not know who they are, or where they came from, and because they will be judged by their innocence onscreen, will make them prime for the role. The types of children that I would like to play the role are children that are a little older than the age in the book, and that have blonde hair and blue eyes. This means that the children are more experienced and can think out situations better than if they were younger. The lack of knowledge about the young actresses and actors will make the viewers of the movie seem that they can judge them in the first hour of the movie, when in reality the movie continues and they viewers discover that the children are not what they seem; making them more terrifying, than if they actually knew who they were. My purpose of this is to have the viewers of the movie not compare the young actors to any other roles that they were in previously. This could decrease the amount of scary the film has to offer, which would mean the movie not live up to the potential that it has to be the scariest film of all time. If I had no choice and I had to choose someone already known for the role of Flora, I would use Dakota Fanning and make her seem younger than she really is. Someone I am looking for this role is a blonde headed girl, and a sense of secret, but innocence. I think she would be able to pull this off better than other young movie star actresses. For Miles, I would use the child actor named Freddie Highmore. He has not been in too many movies before hand, but he is a good actor and really gets into the character he is playing.

         The ghosts in the movie will be not your typical ghosts, as they are in The Innocents as played by Peter Wyngarde and Clytie Jessop. Instead, Peter Quint, who is a terrifying man with a terrifying past, will taunt and tease the children in my movie, Turn of the Screw. Because he is so scary, the thought of turning him into some sort of demon makes the thought of him just as frightening. Miss Jessel is the other ghost that has a role in the movie as well. I believe that she is less of a threat than Peter is; therefore, I think casting her as an angel, or a good spirit, will help show the power struggle between good and evil even more so. Both Miss Jessel and Peter Quint have interesting roles in the book; therefore, the actors playing them should be unknown and indeed anonymous. I want the ghosts who do not relate to the audience. I want them to be more figures than actual beings that are recognizable. For Peter, I want him to be a dark figure that lurks around. Miss Jessel, as I said, should be cast as a more compassionate character; therefore. I want to turn her role in the movie into a role of an angel or of a good spirit. She should also be unrecognizable, but she should be beautiful, and dressed in white apparel that will illuminate her and her innocence. I know in the book she was not the most innocent of creatures because she did choose to be with Peter; however, she was beaten and did not know how to get out of this abusive relationship. This plays a big role in the fact that she was not necessarily on Peterís side, but she was forced to be on his side because he threatened her until she obeyed him.

         I think the story line should be set in the present. It is interesting to see how movies are portrayed in new times and times way before the book/play was written. The new interpretation of the book will allow more possibilities, and a bigger chance to expand on the book in a way that has not been before. Letting the setting take place in an old manor, owned by the childrenís father still, would be a prime setting for this book. Just like in the book, the manor is beautiful. It is filled with rich gardens, giant rooms, chandeliers, fireplaces, grand staircases, and lovely views of countryside. All of these things that the house has to offer will help add one to the frightful big house emptiness that is sorely needed to make a scary movie happen. I would still like to make the house almost empty, besides the governess, Mrs. Grose, played by a kindly but fearful older actresss, like Megs Jenkins in The Innocents, and the children. They need to be present, but adding any other people into the house would cause too much distraction for the main purpose of the film; which is to scare. I would like to add in more scenes with the governess being confronted with the ghosts, just because almost everyone likes scenes such as those. First, she will arrive at the mansion and be acquainted with the children; soon it will all go downhill when she is presented with the challenges of the children, and whether or not she really sees the ghosts around the house. She will find that, while trying to save the children from Peter and Miss Jessel and discovering what the ghosts want, that the children might be in on it too and be a part of all the strange occurrences around the household. This will bring a lot of suspicion, and the governess will not be sure what to do; except to try and save herself. The ending should take place in a giant garden, with flowers blooming, and beautiful shrubs and trees all around then. The demon, Peter, and the angel, Miss Jessel will be overlooking the governess and the children, as the children die but the governess survives

         The clothing style in this movie for Mrs. Grose and the governess would just be the modern every day clothes. However, it would be interesting to see the children wearing older style clothing and regarded as being old fashioned. This would the children seem less likely to be bad and more likely to have old fashion values; which are usually good and acceptable. It will also make the children seem warmer to the viewers of the film. Old fashion brings a sense of warmth, which is something I think the children can trick into people very easily. The governess can find the children odd at first for dressing this way, but soon she adores them. She is from a normal life and dresses normally. However, her adoration for the children soon turns into worry, which turns in suspicion. I think contrasting the childrenís life with that of the governess will give add onto the effect of good versus evil. Just the focus on opposites really helps put the two groups of people on opposite sides the scale. From the fact that they look different, dress different, and act different are perfect way to juxtapose them in a way that seems delightfully unnatural!

         I really liked the book Turn of the Screw, by Henry James; therefore, I would want to make sure that I do his book justice and emulate some of the things he did in his book in my movie. I want to make sure that the setting is closely related to the book, and the story line is a lot similar to his book as well. James did a great job at portraying the scariness of his book, and I really want to convey that sense of scare. By using these actors, setting, plot line, and costumes, I believe that I would be able to make this movie great and something Henry James would be proud of!

Sara Bailey