As Alfred Hitchcock made the violence in his 1960 Pyscho more acceptable by filming it in black and white, Quentin Tarantino filmed the most violent parts of his first Kill Bill movie (2003) in black and white in order to receive an MPAA rating that would allow his movie to have a wide release. Jack Clayton, the director of The Innocents, (1961, based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, decided to film the movie in black and white, possibly to create more suspense by making a darker theater. In my opinion, colorizing The Innocents would give more emphasis to the characters, plot, as well as adapt the book better.
Color in film is used to subtly emphasize aspects that the director wants the audience to catch on to. Although Steven Spielberg filmed his 1993 Schindler's List mainly in black and white, he used color to emphasize the individual in the Holocaust (the little girl in the red coat). The Wizard of Oz, directed in 1939 by Victor Fleming, uses color to emphasize a transition from sepia-toned reality to fantasy. And with color, The Innocents can emphasize individuals and transitions, as well as keep the suspense.
Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) can benefit from colorization because her character goes through the torment of trying to figure out if she is hallucinating. By colorization, she can start the movie dressed in simple plain colors; and, then as she progresses into the madness of her confusion, she can wear more wild colors. The more colors, the more likely the audience will feel the madness the character is feeling.
The ghosts are the main benefactors of the colorization. The ghosts can appear in dull colors, but their evil attributes can be highlighted in the dark red, as described in the book. Quint's hair and eyes are described as fiery red in the book. This description is lost in the movie, but with the colorization the scenes with Quint (Peter Wyngarde) will become even more intense and terrifying. Miss Jessel's ghost does not appear "evil" in the book or in the movie in which she, as depicted by Clytie Jessop, seems to be just a lingering ghost who still cares for Flora (Pamela Franklin). By colorizing her clothes, she can wear a dull but passive color like lavender to portray her non-threatening but ghostlike nature.
Another reason why the film would benefit from colorization would be the assistance in plot development. As the movie opens, we see Miss Giddens praying in wild confusion. I agree that this should be in a dull or black and white tone. But then as the story begins, it should become colorized. This will show the transitions in time, as well as the plot going from confusion to normal status.
With colorization, the flashbacks will stand out as flashbacks because they will be seen in black and white. Black and white will be the key to knowing a transition in the plot of something that is "unknown." Like in the opening, Miss Giddens is praying wildly because she is confused because she does not know what is happening; even with the flashbacks, the audience does not know what had truly happened to the children when Quint and Miss Jessel were with them.
As the movie progresses, the film will slowly be decolorized and just like at the beginning, it will end in black and white to show the complete circle of time from the beginning because Miss Giddens is back to experiencing confusion and not knowing what has happened.
Colorization of The Innocents will intensify the terror, better interpret the book's descriptions, and guide the plot. Seeing as how this movie creates terror without gore, I think the MPAA will guarantee a wide release rating.