The story begins with a Miss. Giddens (played by Deborah Kerr) who is hired as a governess for a girl named Flora. Her responsibilities double as Flora's brother Miles is expelled from his school and returns to live in the family home.
|Fig 1: The Innocents Movie Poster|
She later realizes that these visions are ghosts of the previous governess and her lover who is the previous valet of the uncle of the two children. They have possessed the bodies of the children and are living through them. She confirms her doubts after seeing a photograph of the valet in a music box in the attic of the house. The music box plays a tune which is repeated by Flora and played on the piano by Miles as well. The linking of the tune in various formats is a strange way of showing a connection between the past and the present.
|Fig 2: The Apparation that Miss Giddens sees|
The children have a very adult look in their eyes which gives the audience a sense of unease.
This is similar to the description of the character Elva from Christopher Paolini's The Inheritance Cycle where a child of 7 years of age has the personality of a grown woman.
The very loss of innocence in the children releases, in the audience's mind, a feeling of fear and discomfort.
Miss. Giddens then takes it upon herself to save the children and rid their bodies of the evil spirits.
The spirit in Miles begins to fall in love with Miss Giddens. This is another aspect of the film where the abnormal maturity of the children is highlighted. One of the most disturbing parts of the film is where the adults do not acknowledge the unnatural maturity of the children. The very fact that the horror of this movie is hidden in plain sight, disturbs the viewer.
|Figure 3: Flora and Miles|
The cinematography of this movie is beautifully executed in black and white. The use of lighting and music creates the sense of gloom and horror in this film. The English cast and Victorian architecture also add the the 'spooky' element. As reviewer Julia Merriam appropriately states, "Further, since the film's soundtrack consists mostly of harmonious, complementary tones, those times the music takes a turn for the dissonant are exceptionally jarring, providing as much of a shock as the visual imagery they accompany." Merriam, Julia. (2007).Classic-horror.com. The Innocents (1961).
|Figure 4: The female spirit that Miss Giddens witnesses.|
Ultimately, the spirits are banished and Miles is killed due to the trauma that his body has to suffer due to the 'possession'. It is never really made clear if the events throughout the film are a figment of Miss Giddens' imagination or if they are actually occurring. However, as Professor Albus Dumbledore of J.K. Rowling's famous Harry Potter series appropriately says "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth would that mean that it is not real?" Rowling, J.K. (2007). Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. London. Bloomsbury.
Bibliography and Illustration List
Biodrowski, Steve. (2008). Cinefantastique.com. The Innocents (1961) – Retrospective Review. Available online at http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2008/04/film-dvd-review-the-innocents-1961/ (accessed 4th December 2011)
Merriam, Julia. (2007).Classic-horror.com. The Innocents (1961). Available online at http://classic-horror.com/reviews/innocents_1961 (Accessed 4th December 2011)
Rowling, J.K. (2007). Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. London. Bloomsbury.
Figure 1: Clayton, Jack. (1961). The Innocents. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Innocents-DVD-Deborah-Kerr/dp/B000IMVMH0 (accessed 4th December 2011)
Figure 2: Clayton, Jack. (1961).http://obscurehollow.blogspot.com/2008/10/innocents-1961.html (accessed 4th December 2011)
Figure 3: Clayton, Jack. (1961).http://witzseeker.tumblr.com/post/862027257/creepy-kids-poor-little-darlings-from-the (accessed 4th December 2011)
Figure 4: Clayton, Jack. (1961). http://korku-luk.blogspot.com/2009/07/innocents-1961.html (accessed 4th December 2011)