Evil in Disguise

         After reading The Turn of the Screw, written in 1898 by Henry James, one may reconsider if all children are innocent and precious little angels. The book gives the audience something to think about when it comes to children being evil and taunting. However, in Jack Clayton's 1961 movie, we (the audience) see the true evil in the children and how they work together in their own conniving ways.

         We are all aware in this day and time that children can be mischievous and cruel sometimes. I believe we can all recall times we have seen siblings fighting or children acting up in the grocery store because mom or dad will not buy them all of the candy in the world. Children normally grow out of these phases and realize that there are other people out there that they are bothering and that the world does not revolve around them and everything they want. Unfortunately, in the case of the movie The Innocents, Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) set out to show us that the world does revolve around them; and, if it does not, one is guaranteed a night full of blood-curdling cries from Flora.

         Miss Giddens, played by Deborah Kerr, soon gets caught in their web of mystery not long into the movie. She is blinded by their evilness at first because all she sees in them is pure angelicness. She lets the children lead her around the land and plays with them day in and day out until she starts seeing ghosts. Miss Giddens considers the fact that she may be losing her mind, but then she comes to the conclusion that they are the ghosts of two previous employees of the household, the valet and the housekeeper, Mrs Grose (Megs Jenkins). Why are their spirits wandering around the house? Perhaps they are doing this because they are working their evil ways through Miles and Flora.

         Accented by the black and white shadows and the creepy sounds of the movie, Flora and Miles soon begin to show their unfavorable characteristics after having tried to conceal them. What I mean is that, although they look like divine and sweet children, there is always an underlying evil present in them. For example, when Flora cries, it is almost like she is in pain, not just weeping. When Miles kisses Miss Giddens, it is as though someone is working through him. Why else would a child of that age know how to kiss an adult woman on the lips? It was gross, if you ask me. All of these characteristics add up to evil and tainted children. There is not an ounce of innocence in them.

Lauren Cline

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