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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
Jack Clayton was dismayed to learn that 20th Century Fox insisted on making the film in CinemaScope. His cinematographer Freddie Francis set about making that less of a problem by framing the wide horizontal frame with lots of vertical lines to break it up. Conversely, he also used the wide space to emphasize shadowy spaces and using the emptiness towards an unsettling effect. To that end, he would often place characters at opposite ends of the frame. See more »
During Miss Gidden's interview with The Uncle, a clock can be heard striking the Westminster Chimes half hour. The Uncle goes to a mantel clock checking his watch. The mantel clock shows 10 past 11:00. The Uncle touches the clock dial, but does not correct the time. See more »
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 »
Miss Giddens, an uptight but pretty young woman, takes a job as a Governess for two orphans on a grandiose estate in the English countryside. Flora and Miles seem like thoroughly innocent and angelic children, but soon, whispers of corruption begin to materialize. Miles is expelled from school for reasons he is reluctant to discuss. Miss Giddens learns of the fate of the prior governess, a masochistic young woman named Miss Jessel who was having an affair with a sadistic man named Quint. Soon, Miss Giddens is seeing the ghosts of the arrogantly handsome Quint and the forlorn Miss Jessel everywhere and comes to believe that the children have been possessed. But is she only imagining these horrors? And will she destroy the children in her attempt to save them?
This movie is creepy, claustrophobic and totally paranoid. Filmed in moody black and white with an almost non-existent musical score (other than the chilling song "Willow Waylee" sung in a child's voice over the opening credits and throughout the film) "The Innocents" is a flawless suspense drama. 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. Is the prim English Governess (played with classic elegance by Deborah Kerr) simply an uptight prude having obscene fantasies, or are the two children she's caring for really possessed by the evil and perverted spirits of the former governess and her sadistic lover? There's no gore, no stupid incidental music, no insufferably adorable children and no happy ending. Unspoken horrors, dark secrets and things that "decent people" don't discuss, fill this film with sick shadows and diseased memories. Whether or not the ghosts exist is a moot point by films end. This film is about corruption and perversion. Indeed, there are no "Innocents" in this film...only the facade of innocence, a flimsy backdrop of beauty drawn over the ugly, festering truth. But what IS the truth?
This film is a masterpiece of dread and still has the power to disturb even some forty years later. I would highly recommend it to ghost enthusiasts and psych majors alike!
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