The Innocents

1961 UK
Dir:Jack Clayton
Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Megs Jenkins, Pamela Franklin

Left:Deborah Kerr, Right:Megs Jenkins

To tell the truth, I'm not an enthusiastic fun of horror movies, because I'm a very very easily scared person even to such a degree that when I firstly watched Steven Spielberg's "Jaws"(1975) in movie theater, I, in its literal meaning, jumped out of my seat and was laughed at by everyone around me watching a scene where that abominable creature suddenly came out of the surface of water and looked as if rushing toward me. Anyway, this is somewhat exaggerated way of talking about my experience. But, "The Inoccents" is one of such movies I felt really scared and shivering. It seems that the atmosphere of black & white image is far more effective than the one in color, especially the one made with the recent state-of-the-art SFX technologies. Because such kind of advanced technologies easily pick up everything as an input, and leave no room for audience's creative imagination that is one of absolutely necessary elements for this type of horror movies to be effective. There must definitely be something in-between or rather should say blank areas (it's really difficult to explain what I want to say here in English compared to in Japanese which is my mother tongue) toward which audience can project, and fill with, their own creative imagination, and if from the first those areas are in every detail filled with some tailor-made images, then the audience can at best passively follow and just accept the course already set by the movies. In such a state, there would be no imagination whatsoever, and I'm always thinking this is the very symptom many many recent movies are suffering. But, "The Innocents" isn't among such recent movies, and leaves the room for creative imagination for its audience. Furthermore, it should be added that this movie doesn't end up in just another occult monster movie owing to its psychological element. The story based upon Hery James' famous writing "Turn of the Screw" is very simple; that is, Deborah Kerr comes to a very old house as a governess, and finds out the fact that the house is haunted by some evil spirit, and struggles to protect two angelic children from the influence exerted by this evil spirit. Like an occalt story as it may seem from this brief description, nevertheless this one is not just another horrid occult movie whose primary concern is just how much the audiences will be scared and horrified. That becomes clear when the final scene casts upon its audience some doubts about Deborah Kerr's sanity where she kisses a boy on the mouth. By this scene thrown, the meaning of the whole story suddenly changes its aspect in such a way that what has been presented in all those scenes that include the one where Deborah Kerr sees the figure of the evil spirit reflected on a window might be just delusions seen from the perspective of somehow mentally suffered Deborah Kerr's eyes. It can be said that this is a masterly way of maneuvering psychological aspects, and really throws the audience into a very unstable and ambivalent state of mind. By the way, about 20 years after, director Jack Clayton made another occult movie titled "Something Wicked This Way Comes"(1983). Although I have no intention of saying that this one is completely bad, but even so I have to say that something is missing in this movie. Compared with "The Innocents", it, from the first to the end, never departs from the realm of occult monster world even though I must admit that the movie captures the unusual carnival world quite well, and, by comparison, we can know the supelative quality of "The Innocents" as a horror and, at the same time, a psycological drama. Anyway, I can certainly say this one is a really good and entertaining horror movie made during the 1960s. Besides, Deborah Kerr is more buautiful here in this black & white movie than in color movies at that time. I guess some imagination might be working in this regard too. Additionally saying, this is Pamela Franklin's debut movie, and she is quite impressive here.

All articles are written by Kaminarikozou