Thursday, January 14, 2010

Horror Movies that Rock: The Innocents

I love horror films, a vast majority of them, too. I love the 80's slashers, classic Hitchcock thrillers, independent horror, and foreign horror films. As of right now, I have a new psychological classic horror obsession: The Innocents (1961) with Deborah Kerr and a bunch of other fantastic actors. The movie is based on Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw.”

In my opinion, this is Deborah Kerr's best film. I've read from other sources that she too felt that it was her best performance. I’m astounded that she wasn’t nominated for her role in this film. In the film, she plays a governess, Miss Giddens, to two orphaned children, Miles and Flora. The story focuses on the story of the death of the governess, Miss. Jessel, who Miss. Giddens replaced. Miss. Giddens learns that Miss. Jessel was in a romantic and frightening relationship with a handsome man, Quint, who lived on the grounds. He died on the grounds before Miss. Jessel's death occurred and was described as a violent and manipulative man.

Apparently, the children were very influenced by both of them and rarely left them alone. Flora would follow Miss. Jessel and Miles would follow after Quint. Quint and Miss. Jessel allowed the two to follow them around closely, which others explained as being inappropriate. Miles and Flora saw things that children are not meant to be exposed to at their age, such as violence and extreme sexual passion between a man and a woman.

Miss. Giddens is a very sexually repressed woman. She becomes obsessed with the relationship between Quint and Miss. Jessel. She also begins to see the ghosts of both of these people. Quint is portrayed as very evil and manipulative, even as a ghost. Miss. Giddens begins to fear for the safety of the children. She believes that the spirits of Quint and Miss. Jessel are attempting to possess them, so that they can use the children’s bodies in order to continue their love affair.

What makes the film so creepy is the back-story in the film, the oddly heightened maturity of the children, and the apparitions of the ghosts. Throughout the film, it is hard to determine whether or not the ghosts actually existed or if Miss. Giddens was going insane due to being oddly intrigued by a love affair between a man and a woman she never met.

Truman Capote was one of the screenwriters of this film, which I find awesome. Capote was a fantastic writer. He became even more impressive as a writer, in my opinion, after seeing this film. Fantastic at writing horror! His screenwriting partner was William Archibald, who I don’t know much about, other than he wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s, I Confess.

Another impressive part of this film is the young boy who plays Miles, Martin Stephens. Martin Stephens was an English child actor. He mainly starred in horror films and the other film that he is in that may be familiar to some of you is Village of the Damned (1960). He should have been nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Innocents. You can get a taste of his performance by watching a clip where he recites a poem, which is one of my favorite scenes in the film. I wish that I had his contact information to tell him how awesome he was as a kid. I wonder if he misses acting now? 


Valerie Troutman said...

I watched this film back in 2008. Was it just me or did the ghosts in this movie remind you of the way ghosts are done in modern Japanese horror films?

Kalli said...

I do see that, actually! It's the way the ghosts show up that makes them similar. I've been wanting to watch this movie again. I'm going to try to wait until October though. I'll be watching horror films the entire month.

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