Film Techniques Create Fear

     Camera angles are used to create atmosphere and audience manipulation. The best way a film maker uses is with a variance of camera shots. There are varying kinds of camera angles that express different messages. This is best seen in the 1961 film, The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw. Even though this is a film made in 1961 it is still as effective as any special effects filled film today. The film is as frightening as can be. The camera angles tell an audience how to feel about a particular shot or scene.

     Clayton uses close-ups to show extreme emotion or to magnify a character's emotions. This grips the audience and pulls them in the scene with that character. No character is more prevalent through close-ups than the children's governess, played by Deborah Kerr. We see a drastic character transformation. She is first portrayed as simple and naive. Then as the plot progresses she turns into an intense and chilling character.

     The director then portrays scenes with the supposed ghosts with wide angles. He does this to mystify the audience. The viewers have to make assumptions of their own about the reality of the ghosts (Peter Wyngarde and Clytie Jessop). This effect also makes the film more bone-chilling. One cannot quite make out the ghosts. The unknown is usually more frightening than knowing what the ghosts look like. This is a very effective tool in film making. Many movies today sell out by showing the monster or ghost. This usually ruins the movie for me.

     Clayton did a perfectly fine job in portraying a spooky film. He shows his genius in the choice of camera angles and shots that he uses. He is spectacular in his audience manipulation technique. I could not ask for a spookier film. I like that he left it up to the audience to make their own assumptions on the reality of the ghosts.

Colleen Klein

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