Turn the Lights off So I Can See

         In the motion picture The Innocents, produced and directed by Jack Clayton in 1961, was totally surpassed by darkness and horror in by the novella The Turn of the Screw, written by Henry James in 1898. I feel as a consumer of literature and especially if I were subjunctive, I would want my novella to be portrayed in film at least with the same mood and coverage that is due to the author. I feel Clayton took the author's ideas and butchered them till one can no longer pay attention to the motion, after reading the novel that is.

         When beginning to read the novella The Turn of the Screw, I was excited because the preface stated a dark theme. We read this book almost three weeks before Halloween, and I felt this could be a gateway to starting the holiday off right. The motion picture did not hold up to my expectations, as stated above. After reading James's novella, I was asking myself about the possibilities of what all could have happened: the governess was crazy, the children were possessed, that the family was keeping the ghosts a secret. Watching the motion picture, I got the feeling that the governess (Deborah Kerr) was too dramatic for her character, and it took away from the children's darkness and evil needed to portray the sinister essence of the book. In the movie she seemed to crave attention from Mrs. Grose (Meg Jenkins), Miles (Martin Stephen), and Flora (Pamela Franklin). She would interrogate the children way too much, and it took me away from the mystery and darkness that the novel portrayed. The way she acted towards other humans made me want to give her some meds and get her to shut up about the ghosts. Throughout the motion picture she was on a ranting rampage to find the truth behind the ghosts that she "thought" she saw.

         I feel the Miles (Martin Stephen) could have made for a scary child in the film. He could have "stole the show" if prompted to. He seemed to have a large amount of evil in the scene at the end when he and the governess were eating together, which I thoroughly enjoyed. A better director could have made the whole movie better by encouraging the characters to be more consistently balanced and darker.

         In conclusion Henry James put me in the dark with death like adjectives that made me feel dark and dull. If Jack Clayton wants my ticket at a movie theater he would have to turn off the lights and show James's novella on screen with the requisite darkness.

Preston Bradley

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