She Has (Not) Seen a Ghost

     There is not much of a doubt that Henry James's 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw is one of the most powerful ghost books I have read throughout my academic career. In my opinion, it seems as if most people who read the book make up their minds fairly quickly as to whether or not the ghosts are real.

     However, when these readers are asked why they think the ghosts are real, the answers tend to sound as confused as the governess' testimony that she saw a ghost. To me, there is really no convincing evidence to support either side of the issue conclusively. After I read the play through again, I have concluded that the ghosts were not real.

     I would like to point out that there was never any concrete evidence or eyewitness accounts validated by anyone other than the governess. However, I do not even think the same can be said about Jack Clayton's 1961 correspondent film to the play, The Innocents. I will look at some of the key personalities in the movie and then at any evidence of the spirit.

     First of all, the nameless governess of the play is not nameless in the film. Right from the beginning, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) has more of a real quality about her due to the fact that she has a name. The character in the film seems to have more credibility than the one in the play because she is older in the film and has lived through much more.

     Secondly, those "bad kids?"--Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin)? They were the reason Miss Giddens went crazy!--thus the title, The Innocents. I would have liked to add a subtitle to that, it would have read: The Innocents: But Far from It.

     Overall, my main argument is this: no one but Miss Giddens ever claims to have seen a ghost, and I think it is safe to assume in the movie that there is a lot to be explained, sort of like "The X-Files," but without guns and alien spacecraft.

Jason Kemp

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