If I had to play any role in the movies I watched this semester, I would select the governess, named Miss Giddens in The Innocents, Jack Clayton's 1961 adaptation of Henry James's 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw. The governess is the protagonist in the book and film. She stands for good. I always believe I act like a good person towards people I am around. Like the governess, I also am pretty, young, and want to do a good job.
The governess slowly learns the ugly truth about the estate and its past occupants. Her main thought as the book progresses is to save the children from the ghosts of Mr. Quint and Miss Jessel. It is good struggling against evil.
I have nieces and nephews who remind me of Miles (Martin Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) in the film. They are so sweet and innocent when the ghosts (Peter Wyngarde and Clytie Jessop) are around. Miles is the young boy who has been dismissed from his boarding school. At home, he appears mannerly and polite, just like my nephew. It is hard for the governess, named Miss Giddens in the movie (Deborah Kerr) to understand what he can have done at school that is so bad. Slowly she learns he is possessed by the ghosts, and he learns to lie and trick. His youth is being stolen by ghosts, and she wants to make them leave him alone.
Flora, on the other hand, is the sweet little girl that appears pure. This is evidently why the evil attaches to her and her brother. She must know that evil exists in the same room with the governess. When I babysit children, they usually want to be around me when they sleep. They feel protected more if they are close by. Flora is saved as the governess sends her away with Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins) at the end when the ghosts are exposed. Mrs. Grose seems more like my grandmother because she is always trying to help out. She is frightened in the story but offers help and past knowledge to the governess. She is not as strong mentally or emotionally as the governess but gets her strength from the latter. This shows that good can win over evil when the will is there.
I do not really have anyone that reminds me of the uncle (Michael Redgrave) in the story. He appears handsome and strict. He never wants to be bothered by the needs of the children. The governess has to handle everything. This is like most people in life: "Do not tell me anything bad; just take care of it so I do not have to." He shows his
weakness here. James is a storyteller who gets his audience ready, and they expect a scary ghost story. He lets each person's imagination do the rest. As in life, the unknown is often much more terrifying than what is seen.