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In Victorian England, the uncle of orphaned niece Flora and nephew Miles hires Miss Giddens as governess to raise the children at his estate with total independence and authority. Soon after her arrival, Miss Giddens comes to believe that the spirits of the former governess Miss Jessel and valet Peter Quint are possessing the children. Miss Giddens decides to help the children to face and exorcise the spirits. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"The Innocents" was the big career break for veteran film editor Jim Clark. They became close friends and regular drinking buddies during the production because they were both recently divorced and lived near each other. In his 2010 memoir "Dream Repairman", Clark described the editing of the film as an easy and pleasurable experience, largely because of Clayton's meticulous approach to film making. Clark also explained how he created unusually long cross-fades for the scene transitions - these ran four or five times longer that standard "4 foot" dissolves and often included a near-subliminal third element in the cross-fades. Clark described Clayton as "a big drinker who used to tipple all day - mostly brandy - and he was a chain smoker". He also noted Clayton's "perverse sense of humor", and expressed the view that Clayton (who, in his view, was "highly influenced" by his earlier contact with John Huston) also emulated Huston's "sadistic sense of practical joking". Clayton's personal assistant Jeannie Sims (who had previously worked for Huston) had been badly burned as a child, leaving her with scars on her hands and face, and she was terrified of fire, but according to Clark, Clayton "made it his business to try and set Jeanie alight as often as possible. He would go to enormous lengths, preparing bonfires that Jeanie would supposedly be put onto." Clark also revealed that, while generally charming, and revered by his crew, Clayton was sometimes prone to outbursts of extreme anger. He recounted an incident in which Jeanie Sims was unavoidably late calling Clayton with the reviews from the London critics' screening of "The Innocents", which Clayton was too nervous to attend. The screening was held up for over half an hour because of problems getting a senior film critic (who was wheelchair-bound) into the cinema, and after Sims finally contacted Clayton by phone, she returned to Clark ashen-faced and explained that Clayton had flown into a rage, and had viciously berated her over the phone for being late. When Sims called Clark to come to Clayton's studio office the next morning, he arrived to find that, the night before, Clayton had completely smashed the large plaster scale model of Bly House (the fictional location for the movie), and that he was refusing to speak to either of them. Although they patched up the friendship, Clark later opined that he felt his close relationship with Clayton had "crossed the line" of the professional relationship between an editor and a director. Although Clark worked with Clayton on his next film, "The Pumpkin Eater" (1964), their professional relationship and friendship effectively ended with that film - after it was released, Clayton inexplicably sent Clark a highly abusive letter, blaming him for the commercial failure of the film - although Clark later postulated that it might have been actually written by Jeanie Sims, because the letter was typed, and he knew that Clayton never used a typewriter. See more »
Miss Giddens is wearing one dress when Flora bursts in to tell them to come see Miles riding the horse. When they run outside, Miss Giddens is wearing a different dress. See more »
What shall I sing to my lord from my window? What shall I sing for my lord will not stay? What shall I sing for my lord will not listen? Where shall I go when my lord is away? Whom shall I love when the moon is arisen? Gone is my lord and the grave is his prison. What shall I say when my lord comes a calling? What shall I say when he knocks on my door? What shall I say when his feet enter softly? Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor. Enter my lord. Come from your prison. Come from your ...
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The film begins with a totally black screen and the sound of Flora singing for several seconds; then the 20th Century Fox logo fades in and out. The singing continues for a few seconds before the opening credits begin. As the credits display, we see an anguished Miss Giddens praying on the left side of the screen. Her actions are not explained until the film's climax. See more »
The Innocents is a masterpiece of atmospheric horror cinema. The obvious influence for 2001's 'The Others', The Innocents portrays themes of paranoia, death and madness; superbly wrapped around a plethora of great performances from the four main leads.
The story revolves around an uncle who doesn't have time for the children he has inherited, and therefore hires Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) to look after them. When Miss Giddens arrives at the mansion, she first meets Flora, the young girl and is 'enchanted' by the child. A few days later the boy, Miles, arrives at the house after being expelled from school. The fourth lead is made up by the housekeeper, Mrs Grose; played by Meg Jenkins. From the housekeeper, Miss Giddens eventually learns of what happened to the previous occupants of the house, and that's where the fun starts...
Martin Stephens (Miles) and Pamela Franklin (Flora) do surprisingly good jobs as the two adorable young children that are the centre of the story. Their characters are portrayed as nice young children, but at the same time there is something sinister about them, and that is where the tale draws a lot of it's suspense and mystery from. Deborah Kerr also shines as the watcher of the children. We know from the outset that her character loves children, which makes her plight believable to the audience when she does all she can to save the children from the evil she believes is haunting them. We never really know what is happening in the movie; the children's viewpoints contradict that of Miss Giddens, and as there is evidence to support what both sides say, along with evidence to support that of the contrary, the mystery is able to build itself through this and that, therefore, along with the empathy we are able to feel for Mrs Giddens due to the nature of her character; the film is able to remain interesting and suspenseful for it's running time.
The thing that this film does best is in capturing a dark and foreboding atmosphere. Through the way the story is portrayed and the beautiful cinematography, Jack Clayton is able to create scenes and sequences that are genuinely frightening and suspenseful; less is more rarely works to a great effect, but here it does. The 'ghosts' have very little screen time, but the time they do have is powerful and memorable enough to make it seem like much more. The film's creepy and menacing atmosphere never delves into violence or gore and relies solely on the story itself and the Gothic, atmospheric setting; and that is much to the film's credit.
If you liked the slightly later 60's paranoid horror films, such as Carnival of Souls or The Haunting, then this film is definitely one to check out.
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