Innocent Expression

         In the Innocents, based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw and directed by Jack Clayton, the lead actress Deborah Kerr makes the role of Miss Giddens, the governess, believable. The movie itself is based on a fairly implausible subject, ghosts, and thus requires that the actors in it make the characters and situations plausible. Deborah Kerr succeeds at this in several ways in the movie; it is she who creates all the emotions that classify the movie as a horror. Throughout the movie Ms Kerr's character is required to appear more frightened and also insane; the actress does a wonderful job in portraying this transformation. In the beginning she is carefree and in awe of the grounds; but, as the movie continues, her uneasiness becomes palpable. The actress achieves this in word pronunciation, body movement, and most of all facial expression.

         The dialogue of a movie is already mostly set before the production even begins; the actor does not have much control over what is to be said; however, determining how it is said is part of the actor's job. Deborah Kerr, through her voice, conveys feelings such as worry, horror, and caring in the movie. This is an important part of her performance.

         More important to this movie is the way Ms Kerr moves. She at times moves haltingly, at others abrasive and fast. This variation of speed, jerkiness, or even ease adds to the character and the understanding of the character. Towards the end of the movie it even helps to make the audience feel as though Miss Giddens is insane whether or not the ghosts are real.

         However, the most important of these aspects in this film are her facial expressions. It is through Deborah Kerr's bulging eyes that the audience is aware she is horrified; through her thin lips and drawn face that the watcher understands she is crazed. Throughout, the movie her face is the gateway to the characters internal thoughts.

         The aforementioned aspects of Ms Kerr's performance could all be present in a lackluster performance also; if they were exaggerated or not properly used, the movie could become a comedy. It is Deborah Kerr's appropriate use of these that make the movie a horror, and all of these tiny nuances add to the depth of the character and make the depiction of Miss Giddens authentic.

Sandra Way

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