Ghost Busters

         The Innocents, directed in 1961 by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, is a film that I truly enjoyed. The film is much like the previous films we have seen, in that the end leaves more questions than answers. In The Innocents we are left wondering if Miss Giddens (played by Deborah Kerr) is sane, or has imagined the ghosts.

         Upon reading the book, I found that it was much easier to dismiss the ghosts as being something that the governess has made up. However, the film gives the audience a chance to see what Miss Giddens sees and therefore is quite hard to disregard as being imagined. Furthermore, the ghosts interact with Miss Giddens' world, for example when the tear has fallen on the school desk, presumably from Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) the former governess which is now dead, and the birds and wind all suddenly stop making sound as Quint (Peter Wyngrade) appears on the tower. These elements make it very difficult for anyone to believe the ghosts are not just a figment of her imagination.

         The ghosts aside, the people in the film are very odd in themselves, especially the children. Due to their age, much of their odd characteristics are brushed off immediately as children are unpredictable and do funny and strange things. The children in the film go a step further though Miles (Martin Stephens) does not talk or act as a boy of his age should. Instead he takes on the characteristics of that of Quint. It is my belief that Miles actually was not even in control of his body, but it was Quint the entire time, as the same goes for Flora (Pamela Franklin). This explains many of the strange interactions between Miss Giddens and Miles. If Miles was a grown man (Quint), he would probably engage much of the way he did with Miss Giddens, showering her with complements from the beginning, the forceful playing that was demonstrated in the attic, and the odd sexual encounter, including the kiss between Miles and Miss Giddens.

         I believe Flora's doll is a symbol of what has happened to the children. The doll can be described as lifeless, wooden, and worn. The children are not in control of their bodies; they have been hollowed out by Quint and Miss Jessel. The last scene in the film proves this point, as Miles is forced to confront Quint. I believe at that moment Quint has left the body, and the "shell" in which he has been living in (Miles) is all that is left.

         I still do not believe that there are ghosts in the real world; however, in the novella and film I believe that there were ghosts intervening with the children, and that Miss Giddens was not insane.

Matt Innes

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