Little Miss Giddens

         In the 1961 film, The Innocents, directed by Jack Clayton and based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, there is a mix up of authority figures. The uncle (Michael Redgrave), who is supposed to be in total control, is never even seen once Miss Giddens, the governess (Deborah Kerr), is sent to be the caretaker over the children and the staff, which is only Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins). Mrs. Grose, however, seems to be the only one that the governess has any authority over. Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens), the children, do what the governess tells them; but she soon loses control over them.

         When Miles gets kicked out of school, Miss Giddens does nothing about it. She asks Mrs. Grose about it but never attempts to fix it. This is the beginning of her loss of control. It is also obvious that Miss Giddens is infatuated with the uncle as she says she will not write to him because she does not want him to think she is doing a bad job. Her infatuation with the uncle shows her as acting younger than she is by having a schoolgirl crush.

         The movie never portrays Flora and Miles trying to gain control over Miss Giddens, but it shows the governess wanting to be controlled by the children. She starts to see ghosts that no one else can see and she looks as if she is losing it.

         Either Miss Giddens is hallucinating or making it up, or Flora and Miles are lying, and Mrs. Grose is in denial. Titling the film The Innocents makes it seem as though the children are innocent and cannot do any harm to her. The governess, who is supposed to be in charge, came in and put the hierarchical scale out of balance. Now, even Mrs. Grose is under the children's thumb. She believes every word of Flora and Miles because she sees how crazy Miss Giddens is acting.

         The end of the movie shows the governess kissing the dead Miles. This is the scene that really shows Miss Giddens as acting younger than she is. She has a crush on the uncle, is afraid of ghosts, and then she kisses a deceased child. The moment she got to the house, the order of roles was completely ruined.

Jessica Critchlow

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