Getting Into the Role

         Of all the characters and all the actors portraying them we saw this semester, one actor that fulfills the objective of being his part is Martin Stephens. Of all the characters from all the pieces, Stephens' portrayal of Miles in Jack Clayton's 1961 film, The Innocents, is by far the most complex and difficult. Based on the actions of the literary version, Henry James's 1898 novel, The Turn of the Screw, a sense of youth and innocence is mingled with the dark and twisted emotions of his possessor. Stephens brings that to the film.

         An example of the actor's ability to conform to the role and be one with it is in Miles' first night back from school. The required maturity of the scene puts so much pressure on him for his age that it is surprising to see how well the scene works. The charming maturity of his role really rubs off on the young actor.

         A second example of Stephens' ability to adapt to the role occurs during the end of the film when he and the governess, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), are alone on the estate. Miles' rage at and verbal bombardment of the governess are very unbecoming for one so young. When watching the film, one cannot help but focus attention on the eyes of Martin Stephens. Such energy is shown in the scene that it is more than qualified to be labeled the most frightening scene in the film.

         Even more convincing is the hide-and-go-seek scene where Stephens is allowed to display the full spectrum of his talents to the audience. He is allowed to be himself and make his character become so real that the film might seem to have been based on a true account.

         Conquering the inexperience of youth, Stephens really stands out as one of the better actors that were shown over the course of this semester.

Bennett Moore

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