Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Film Review - The Innocents (1961)

Figure 1 - Theatrical Poster (1961)

The Innocents directed and produced by Jack Clayton and released in 1961. The Turn of the Screw was the novel that influences Clayton to direct a movie adaptation of the novel. The plot is off a middle aged woman in Britain being hired by a wealthy man to look after his niece and nephew in his mansion in the countryside away from London, she accepts and finds herself succumbing to ghostly apparitions of the houses former employees which now want the children’s bodies to be together.

The film took a while to get into the whole ghost story, but the build-up was promising by how it showed the relationship between Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) and the children Miles (Martian Stephens) and Flora (Pamela Franklin) brake throughout the film from the odd sightings of those deceased figures around the mansion and its grounds.

The director and production team’s use of the landscape and effects even though in black and white to give off a feel of beauty and such a bright vibrant scene throughout the day and eerie spooky feel at night. Here is a quote from Andrew Pulver to evidence my point: Filmed with a luminous brilliance by cinematographer Freddie Francis, The Innocents is the apotheosis of old-school Brit spookiness (Pulver, 2006). Clayton pulls this off with the traditional Scooby-doo feel with a spooky mansion in the middle of nowhere which for its time was a good approach for the film industry with the use of lighting and dramatic turns and zooms into objects that could make the audience jump with the basic suspense theme, but The Innocents go with a different approach of the suspense being noises of the house and the noises of the children laughing and whispering which has a more physiological thriller approach which Clayton and Francis intended to give a real spark to the film.

Figure 2 - Suspence Scene (1961)
There is a scene that has hidden meaning to it when Miles the boy kisses Miss Giddens on the lips which seems to be quite a long scene which asks the question what was that all about. The hidden meaning behind that was that the two children used to watch the two characters kiss and make love before they died and the children only half knowledge of sexual acts and when appropriate to use them seems like it gives the sense that Miles in the man of the house and needs to be the dominate one. Here is a quote from Raymond Durgnat about his views; The Innocents arraigns Victorian fears of childhood sexuality, it acknowledges also the evil in children”. (Durgnat, 1989). This is a very valid point that is brought into the film by how the children seem to know more than they should about adultery from the cursing and rude comments, you would think they were just disobedient children but it’s a lot more than that which catches the audience off guard.

Figure 3 – Peter Quint with Miles Scene (1961)

The film still above is off the scene where Miss Gidden has confronted Miles about the ghosts and that they are trying to take Miles and Floras bodies to be together. Throughout the film the children never actually see the ghosts they are looking in the same direction from time to time when they appear but there has never been any proof that the children can see them, the only person that does see them is Miss Gidden. This adds speculation near the end of the film if Miss Gidden can actually see ghosts or is she going into a spiral of madness from the pressure of looking after two children in a mansion. A quote from Gafke had this to bring to the topic; “I hesitate to call it a ghost story, as the presence of the ghosts is never confirmed (or denied, for that matter.) Nor is the sanity of the main character (Gafke, 2003). This is a true point as the film ends with the main character holding onto Miles who has died from when the ghost lifts his hand up and disappears, this doesn’t explain anything and leaves the audience baffled either they were real or she was insane, and how directors bring this into a strong story like this adds the finishing touches to give that extra impact at the end making the audience want more.


-          Peter Quint with Miles. (1961) From: The Innocents. On Best-Horror-Films, (Accessed: 30/11/11)

-          Suspense Scene (1961) From: The Innocents. On Flickr, (Accessed: 30/11/11)

-          Theatrical Poster. (1961) From: The Innocents. On MoviePosterDB, (Accessed: 30/11/11)

-          Durgnat, R (1989), CLAYTON, Jack.

-          Gafke, (2003) A Masterpiece, From; IMDb, (Accessed: 30/11/11)

-          Pulver, A. (2006) The Innocents. In: The Guardian [online] (Accessed: 30/11/11)


  1. Hey Nick - good to see this arrive, but some style points; you never need to write constructions like 'Here is a quote by etc.' as the fact that it's obviously a quote and that it is 'here' are all completely obvious to the reader. Instead, cut to the chase - for example:

    As Gafke observes, “I hesitate to call it a ghost story, as the presence of the ghosts is never confirmed (or denied, for that matter.) Nor is the sanity of the main character” (Gafke, 2003

  2. Nick! get some more stuff up on your blog!!! i want to see some ideas :(... please? :D