The Turn of the Colorless Screw

        While The Innocents, the 1961 film directed by Jack Clayton, was the most peculiar movie of the semester, it also did the best job of adhering to the work in which it was based on. With the exception of changing the title and giving the previously unnamed narrator a surname, Clayton stuck very close to its original source, Henry Jamesís 1898 The Turn of the Screw.

        While the film was not the best that we viewed all semester, it did a wonderful job of retaining the peculiarity of the novel. The film was made after the origin of full-color movies, but Clayton chose to film the movie in black and white to add to the mysterious happenings that of the story. The black and white coloring really helped mystify the main setting of the movie, the inside of the mansion. With the intangible backgrounds fading into the mist, the gloomy coloring effect accompanied the curiosity that the audience faces when determining the presence of the ghosts.

        Clayton and his crew did an exquisite job of casting the two young actors that portrayed the two children, Miles and Flora. The obscure twist Martin Stephens put onto the role of Miles helped convey the character that James had originally presented. His timid and conniving demeanor mixed with the high-pitched screams from Pamela Franklin (as Flora) amplified the havoc that they caused their governess, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr).

        However, the most impressive technique that Clayton used to tell his story was his use of unorthodox camera angles, aided by his cinematographer, Freddie Francis. The quick cuts and obnoxiously close angles the Clayton employs were ahead of its time and was definitely a groundbreaking technique that horror and action-style directors still use today.

        Before the time of teenage-thrillers and slasher movies, Jack Clayton had a nice hand in setting the stage for the edge-of-the-seat directors that would follow him.

Marshall Toy

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