Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Innocents (1961)

“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 grave, for the moon is a risen. Welcome, my lord.”

            Sometimes I like to think if I was a film teacher what films would I show. First I think I would like to work in a college rather than a high school because in college you can get away with showing some risqué films like Pre-Code ones or crazy awesome action films like Tarantino ones. My list of films I would like to show a class is long so then I think I could teach a class like Films to 1940 and Films after 1940 (my one brother has taken classes like these and he loves them). I would absolutely show some suspense/thriller films such as anything by Hitchcock, Les Diabolique, The Dark Mirror, and several others. I recently viewed the suspense film The Innocents and quickly added it to my pretend list. The Innocents is an almost perfect film from beginning to end with an amazing story and incredible cinematography.
            The story takes place in the Victorian Era. A young woman named Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is hired as a governess to two young children named Flora and Miles. She is hired by the children’s uncle (Michael Redgrave). The uncle does not care too much for children. He has them living out on his family’s country estate while he lives and works in London. He tells Miss Giddens that anything concerning the children is her problem not his.
            Miss Giddens travels out to the country. She is immediately taken with the home before her carriage pulls through the gate. She gets out of the carriage to walk the grounds before she enters the house. While out near the pond Miss Giddens hears someone calling for Flora but no one is around her. Flora, who has been out playing, sees Miss Giddens and goes over to her. Both governess and child like each other right away. Miss Giddens loves being in the big gorgeous house with Flora.
            Miles is away at school and will not be coming home for some time but Flora keeps saying that her brother will be home soon. The next day a letter comes from Miles’s school saying he is being expelled and will arrive home shortly. Miss Giddens finds Miles charming and sweet and cannot understand why he has been sent home.
            Soon after Miles arrives home odd things begin to happen. Windows fly open from a wild breeze late at night. The children act strangely and say odd things. While playing hide and go seek late one night Miss Giddens sees an apparition of a man outside after just having seen his photograph in a cracked frame in the attic. After this incident the children are not themselves and neither is Miss Giddens. She thinks she sees the man who had been Miles’s tutor and the former governess Miss Jessel, both whom had passed away the previous year.
            Miss Giddens believes that if she can get the children to tell the truth of what had happened in the house to the tutor and the Miss Jessel that she and the children can be free of these evil spirits.
            Obviously this has the type of story where not knowing too much detail before you see it is a good thing. With suspense films giving away detail is a sin and unfair to those who have yet to view them.
            I am not going to go on about the acting as I usually do. Deborah Kerr is an actress I do not mind seeing in a film. In this one she was not that great. I thought she was over the top at some points and she got on my nerves. Michael Redgrave played the uncle. He was only in the film for ten minutes tops. If the acting had been better this film I would have given it a ten out of ten.
            Now the direction and the cinematography are absolutely worth talking about. The direction by Jack Clayton and the cinematography by Freddie Francis are amazing. They enhance each other if that makes any sense. Clayton got some great shots that were greatly enhanced by light and shadow. All the scenes in the house are suspenseful because of the light and shadows. These are the reasons I would show this film to a class it is one of the best examples of near perfection directing and lighting.
            The Innocents is one of the reasons why I love classic films. If someone today could just make a good suspense film without cursing, without having half naked people running, and a story that could hold my attention I would like “suspense” movies from today a lot more. To me there is no such thing as suspense movies today there is usually too much violence and cursing when there does not need to be and the acting is usually terrible (good lord I sound like an eighty year old!). I would love to see a movie in the style of The Innocents made today with a great story, directing, and cinematography. But unfortunately this is our modern age where the studios just want to turn out a hit and do not give a crap about quality I thank God that high quality films like The Innocents exist. And that is why I would show The Innocents to a film class if my dreams were to come true I can could ever teach one. 
This scene, by the way, scared the ever living crap out of me!