The Innocents: Guilty of Success

         The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton in 1961 and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, is a beautiful film displayed through many various elements that blended together nicely to create it. In this paper I will explore the winning cast, flawless costumes, the authentic and tone-producing sets, and the eerie use of sound effects.

         Deborah Kerr graces the role of Miss Giddens in this film and has done a valiant job of creating specific moods in many different scenes. She is able to make some scenes eerie and give other scenes a relief of somewhat. The actors who plays the roles of Miss Giddens' charges, young Flora and Miles, Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens, have done a successful job of creating this same effect in scenes as well.

         The costumes in this picture added to the foreshadowing and symbolism of the storyline. At the start of the film, light-colored costumes that are worn by characters such as Flora make her look innocent and charming. But, towards the final conclusion of the film, the young girl wears dark colors that reflect her character's transition to being more depressed, cold, and seemingly unfeeling.

         From the moment Miss Giddens steps into her new home away from home, there is a distinct eerie presence about it. However, every other element of the film at that moment, such as the role of the bubbly and carefree housekeeper, Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins), tries to almost disguise the initial dreary tone. The house in which the majority of the film takes place, adds a great deal to the feeling of fear and vulnerability felt by Kerr and the audience.

         A lack of sound in this film at many points induce a much scarier tone than any musical score could have. When the character of Miss Giddens sees the ghost of Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) outside the window and he steadily creeps towards her, there is absolute silence, which sent cold chills down my spine. In other scenes there are overwhelming sounds of whispers, dubbed over each other numerous times. These relentless whispers effectively produced a feeling of sheer panic in me as my ears were pierced with their sounds.

         In conclusion, the fitting cast, costume choices, tonal sets, and frightening use and lack of sound effects have worked exceedingly well in this film to create a success.

Lydia Davis

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