Ghosts: Fact or Fiction?

         Some people believe that it is absurd to believe in ghosts. Others believe that ghosts actually exist, and are a reality among us here on earth. In 1961, Jack Clayton directed the ghostly film, The Innocents , based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw The film spotlighted two children, Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) who were living with the presence of ghosts, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) and Miss Jessell (Clytie Jessop) inside of them. The idea of ghosts being angelic or demonic is a question that has been repeatedly used in script writing over the years. It is the fear and curiosity of the unknown that attracts people to watch scary movies.

         Most people think that ghosts are the surviving spirit of someone who has passed on. For a variety of reasons, this person lingers at a particular place and seems to still have some of the personality that they had while living. In assorted ways ghosts interact with people who are living. If ghosts are real, it is a great possibility that Hollywood films have made them out to be much scarier than they actually are. The Innocents film is a good example. The two main ghosts in the film were the previous caretakers of the young children and were living their afterlife through them in a demonic way.

         In Memphis, Tennessee, there is a mansion downtown called the Woodruff-Fontaine House. It is one of the most beautiful and historical mansions in Tennessee. The layout of the house is not as elaborate as the set of The Innocents, but the interior and exterior are very similar to the film. The daughter of the first owner, Mollie Woodruff Henning, is said to haunt the house. Tragically, Mollie lost two children and a husband in the rose bedroom of the mansion. Mollie died in 1917, but many people say she moved back into the house because she could not stop grieving.

         Just like the Woodruff ghosts preferring the rose bedroom, the ghosts in The Innocents seemed to have primary places where they appeared. In the film whenever the same haunting tune was played or hummed something strange would happen to the children's caretaker. I liked the film The Innocents because I had an encounter one night with Mollie at the Woodruff-Fontaine house. I was attending a wedding rehearsal dinner in the basement of the mansion when I heard doors slamming from above. I asked my aunt who manages the mansion who was upstairs. She calmly replied, "Oh, it is just Mollie." She said that her presence was not unusual when something was going on inside the mansion. The Innocents may not represent ghosts in a realistic manner, but I for one believe that they do exist.

Whitney Alexander

Table of Contents