A Modern Turn of the Screw

        If given the opportunity to make my own movie version of a literary work discussed in class, I should choose Henry James’s 1898 The Turn of the Screw, filmed in 1961 as The Innocents by Jack Clayton. I am a big fan of horror films, so I should take a modern-day horror approach on directing this particular movie.

        The setting would consist of a present-day mansion located in the country part of Tennessee, rather than Essex in England. For the master of the place, I should cast as a wealthy businessman around forty years old with a cold disposition, similar to Michael Redgrave’s uncle in The Innocents. I should cast the part of Mrs. Grose, played by Megs Jenkins in the earlier movie, as an older woman, maybe mid fifties, with a kind of naïve personality. The character of Miss Giddens, portrayed originally by an older Deborah Kerr, would be a young, beautiful actress in her late twenties, someone with a strong but sympathetic personality. As for the children’s characters, they would be as young as they are in James’s story. I should cast Miles, depicted as older in the former film, as a young boy, about eight or nine with a loveable but mysterious attitude. The part of Flora, also acted by an older actor, Pamela Franklin, would go to a young girl, about five years old, with a gorgeous face and an innocent nature.

         My main focus on this approach on this film would be to follow the plot of The Turn of the Screw but with a modern twist. This is to appeal more to today’s audience since it will be set in today’s time. The basic story line would not change, but the dialogue would translate into the modern English language of today rather than the way people spoke in the 1880s. The major parts of the book would still be present in the film, for example. The appearances of Quint and Miss Jessel (Peter Wyngarde and Clytie Jessop in Clayton’s film) would still take place, but the images would be transformed to a more present-day type of haunting, due to the currency of the time period represented. The costumes would simply be clothing worn today. Rather than the elegance of dresses and suits, the casual wean of blue jeans and sweaters would replace the old style.

        The summary of my version of the film would basically as follows. The master (children’s uncle) would go away for a business trip, hiring a “nanny” (Giddens) to come help his part time-baby sitter (Grose) watch his niece (Flora) and nephew (Miles). Giddens would come into town, and some minor adjustments would be made to the story line like the games the children play would be more common games. Rather than seeing Quint in the tower, Giddens would see him on the roof; instead of Miles finding the letter Miss Giddens wrote, he would find the email and so forth. All these minor adjustments that would help the story flow more as a current happening.

        All in all, I should try to salvage as much of the main story as possible, but I think that adding a more modern spin to it would definitely make for an interesting movie.

Tarren Powers

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