The Terrifying Effect

         Freddie Francis, a visual master at his best, a fourteen time award winner for cinematography, and four out of those fourteen are Oscars. He is also the cinematographer of the beloved Jack Clayton (1961) film, The Innocents, based on Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw. When watching this film, one can see how he captures the unsteady, eerie to the bones feeling with in it. Just showing and creating something scary are two different things and two different effects. When one shows something scary, one can bring out of it a chilling effect, but when one creates the imagery with creative technique, that something scary becomes terrifying. Freddie Francis captures and creates the terrifying through his art of cinematography. He heightens the emotional prospect visually.

         In the film The Innocents, Freddie Francis stimulates and triggers the mind's primal emotions of fear through his symbolism imagery and angles. The images that are presented were things that are common phobias such as spiders, bugs, some dark stranger lurking at one from the shadows, the supernatural, etc. When using these phobias with an odd angle, he creates power over the psyche and brings fear into people who do not originally have these fears. Freddie Francis has such as that. In one part of the film he has a strange shot of Flora (Pamela Franklin) in an extreme close up looking and laughing at a butterfly being eaten by a spider and Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) in the background farther away in terror. The little girl playing with a spider is not typical image to be seen, but the added effects of odd view makes the scene an even stranger image to the point it brings a chill down one's spine. Another example of using these phobias is at the end in the garden where Miss Giddens is trying to make Miles (Martin Stephens) confess to the ghost, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngard) that possesses him. Francis and Clayton have used continual rapid panning motions for confusion and fear, with medium shots back to Miles and Miss Giddens; and, then when finally Miles yells out that there is a ghost, they show an extreme close up of his face. This created an instant anticipation right after rollercoaster of unknown fear. It is the moment, and the height of the climax keeps the audience wondering in terroris the ghost there, if he has been there, does he leave? No one knows. These combinations of shots, pans and close-ups created the emotions with in the film producing the same emotions in the audience.

         Cinematography plays a great deal with our emotions when watching a film. It helps heighten the emotions that an actor gives off, gives a place or normal object that edge with personal emotional attachment with angles. Freddie Francis does all this and is the master at the creation of it. With his technique of imagery symbolism he makes the film The Innocents into an entertaining and efficient thriller.

Shanah Zigler

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