Film Saves the Book

     After reading the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, I was practically regretting the fact that I had to go to class, knowing I would have to see a film which was based on this novel. I could just imagine the flat characters and the never-ending scenes.

     Fortunately though, the 1961 film The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton, was a sigh of relief. Yes, many things from the book and the film were similar, but the film was so alive and full. The characters seemed so much more interesting and the entire film captured me for the entire ninety-nine minutes.

     The role of the governess, played by Deborah Kerr, was so intriguing. I constantly pictured this drab-looking, spoiled brat while reading the book. Watching the movie, I was greeted with this oddly witty governess who was a bit too busy with daydreaming.

     In the novella, I could not picture the children. There characters seemed so uneventful in my opinion. In the film, the children, played by Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin, evil seemed to blend with them. They seemed too perfect. Anyone that perfect should be closely watched after.

     All of the characters seemed more interesting on the screen. I know books usually offer more descriptions and offer closer insights into what is going on, but they usually do not go on and on as was done in James's novella.

     I have had to read two novels by Henry James, and both times I could not stand the idea of sitting through a film version, nor could I ever find myself wanting to not put the book down. The books, 1880 Washington Square and 1898 The Turn of the Screw, were so drawn out. What would take James about three or four pages to say could have been said in less than one. But both times, the films saved the day.

Kimberli DeRossett

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