The Innocents: Staying Mainly True to the Texts

         I thought The Innocents, the 1961 movie, directed by Jack Clayton, was quite close to the 1950 play The Innocents, by William Archibald, and the 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. I did notice, however, that there were several scenes making Flora (as played by Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens) seem villainous and several obligatory details thrown in to cover the parts of the story that could be explained in writing and that would not necessarily be picked up by the viewing audience. Other than these obligatory aspects and choices by the director, which did not take away from the story line but, I think, added to it and the overall spookiness, the film stayed true to the texts.

         With these added touches, I think the film made Flora more creepy. I had thought Miles was a little creepy in all the different contexts of the story, but I always thought of Flora as the more innocent one. I guess I must have missed wherever it was alluded to in the text: Flora knew just as much as Miles about the two ghosts and their presence. This statement and the ending of the film makes me wonder whether Flora died at the same time as Miles when he admitted to Peter Quint's (Peter Wyngarde) presence or if she would have to say Miss Jessel's (Clytie Jessop) name in the same manner.

         I never have been able to stand very much in the way of scary movies, and I try to avoid creepiness, so I will admit I did not finish the novella. I enjoyed it when I was not creeped out by it, and I wondered how closely the play The Innocents stayed to the original text, but I just could not finish it. I did not finish The Innocents, and I watched the whole movie, so I know the general consensus of how it should end. The film stayed true to The Innocents, and I can only assume it was like The Turn of the Screw's ending as well.

Maggie Gardner