Demonic Children…..I Think Not

         In the 1961 film The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton and based on the 1898 book The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, there was a great effort to make the children appear demonic or even seem to be possessed by a ghost or demons. The movie intended for the governess to come off "the good guy, but the film makers failed miserably in this attempt. The governess, as ably acted by Deborah Kerr, only appears deranged and mentally ill.

         The children in the movie are Miles, played by Martin Stephens, who is a young boy, having been sent home from his boarding school. The other child is Flora, portrayed by Pamela Franklin, who is an adoring young girl, grieving the loss of her previous governess. The movie tries to use seemingly innocent things to portray these children as demonic. The movie depicts a worn garden statue of a boy missing his hand and bugs climbing on it to make the governess, Miss Giddens, think that it was a symbol of Miles' possession. However, most garden statues do have bugs climbing on them, and they do have a tendency to lose there parts. This is just a part of natural weathering. The governess is also disturbed by the fact that Miles has a dead animal in his bed. Most young boy do things with animals that seem weird to everyone. This is not a demonic trait.

         Miss Giddens is also convinced that Flora is seeing the "ghosts" that she herself is seeing, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) and Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop). Even though Flora adamantly denies this, she is not believed. The governess has the children followed around, but nothing is found wrong with them other than they are children and do the things that children do. Nevertheless, Miss Giddens is still convinced that they are demonic. As she believes and sees more and more "ghosts" she becomes crazier and crazier. In the end she terrifies Flora and kills Miles.

         Miss Giddens comes across mentally ill and definitely deranged. Those children are not demonic or possessed. Miss Giddens need to be put on a funny farm in a straight jacket and sedated, and then maybe she will realize what she truly did.

Dawn Davis

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