A Few Screws Loose?

         Okay, so at first I may have actually believed that the ghosts were really there in Henry James's 1898 novella, Turn of the Screw. But, then I discovered as I watched Jack Clayton's 1961 cinematic adaptation The Innocents, that it all, including the characters, seemed a little, well, too wacky to make me believe the ghosts existed. Instead, I got the impression that the characters, not the ghosts, were creating their problems.

         First of all, in the film, even before she had even heard of the ghosts at Bly, Miss Giddens (portrayed by Deborah Kerr), seems to fall in love with her employer, the children's uncle (depicted by Michael Redgrave). It seems a bit strange to me that a woman would fall in love with a man whom she has only met once and only known for a matter of minutes. This is my first indication that there is something a little "off" about Miss Giddens.

         Secondly, not yet knowing of the ghosts' possible existence, she becomes way too attached to the children in a very short amount of time. She falls head over heels for both Miles and Flora upon arrival, and does whatever it takes to make them happy and like her. Miss Giddens acts as if she needs these children to reciprocate her feelings.

         The children, played by Martin Stevens and Pamela Franklin, seem a little peculiar. They seem to have this malicious aura about them that could have little or nothing to do with any ghosts. In fact, they seem to be reacting more to the odd behavior of the governess, who is trying to convince herself that the ghosts are haunting them. This is more obvious in Miles than in Flora. In the film, whenever the children are doing any type of activity together, such as going to church or simply playing together, they seem a bit shady. Miss Giddens seems to pick up on this maliciousness, and thus her character takes on a sense of paranoia.

         The housekeeper, Miss Grose (Megs Jenkins), seems perhaps the most normal person out of the bunch. In the film, one can tell, by watching her, that she has her doubts about Miss Giddens. One can discern that she is suspicious of her even before any of Miss Giddens' ghostly encounters take place.

         In this filmed story, I think that the majority of the characters have more of a sense of oddness about them, especially in their behavior than do their counterparts in the book. Therefore, unlike the inhabitants of Bly in the book, these cinematic characters seemed to me to be haunted by their own psyches, rather than any ghosts.

Stacey McGuins

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