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josephk
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Innocents, The (1961)
28. Apr 2002 at 18:40
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The Innocents (1960)
Directed by Jack Clayton
Based on the novel by Henry Hames, The Turn of the Screw
Boy actor: Martin Stephens

A classic old black and white suspense, adapted from the short novel by Henry James, in which a governess taking care of two children, a boy and a girl, begins to suspect that they are being "corrupted" by ghosts.

The story itself is fascinating and, without being a big fan of Henry James, I would recommend the novel to anyone in the portrayal of children in litterature. Told from the perspective of the governess, the whole thing relies on the ambiguity of the narrator, whose voice is less than reliable throughout the novel. Is the governess only imagining things or are the kids really conspiring with ghosts to torment her?

The film does an excellent job of representing that ambiguity, on which it relies to create the suspense necessary for the genre. Miles, the young boy, is played by Martin Stephens, who appeared in several films in the 50s and 60s, notably in Village of the Damned (1960). Following is the only capture of the film I was able to find online.

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As a side note: an interesting element of the story (which is perhaps more evident in the novel, but still present in the film) is the relationship between Miles and Peter Quint. Quint was the gardener (or something along those lines), and the governess suspects that he may have been the one who "corrupted" little Miles. We learn that Miles and Quint were quite close, perhaps "too close," but Quint dies before the novel or film opens and so we never actually see what the relationship was all about. Some passages from the novel are quite suggestive: "It was Quint's own fancy. To play with him, I mean - to spoil him... Quint was much too free." It's up to the reader to draw his own conclusions.
« Last Edit: 29. Jun 2008 at 04:58 by Zabladowski »  
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YoungArthur
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The Innocents (1961)
Reply #1 - 29. Apr 2002 at 15:29
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Thanks for the fine review, josephk, and congratulations on finding that pic!  I tried and tried...

I'm still nuts about this movie.  I think it was the first really fine movie I saw in the 60's, and I was just as awe-struck over young Stephens as Deborah Kerr's governess!

Another interesting part of the ambiguity you mentioned:  How much of her perception of the  boy as being under the influence of the evil Quint, just a rationalization of her repressed sexual interest in the kid? 

I still feel that this is the way a ghost story should be told- low key, atmospheric, visual forebodings, subtle.  I was only annoyed that the shade of Quint was made so solidly present.

Megs Jenkins was really great as the solid Mrs. Gross.
  
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josephk
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The Innocents (1961)
Reply #2 - 29. Apr 2002 at 15:46
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If you liked The Innocents, you would probably enjoy a more recent film that was obviously influenced by it: The Others, by Spanish director Amenabar and starring Nicole Kidman.

The story and atmosphere of the film is very similar to The Innocents, although it goes off in a completely different direction after a while.

I will post a more complete review sometime in the near future, as part of my ongoing "forgotten favourites" series.
  
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Re: Innocents, The (1961)
Reply #3 - 14. Aug 2012 at 05:46
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There are other movies about this story under the title of ' A Turn Of The Screw" with the same plot and characters. It may be interesting to compare them.
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