Follow us on:






Based upon the Henry James novel The Turn Of The Screw, THE INNOCENTS ($15) is one of the most cerebral cinematic ghost stories ever produced.  While there are supernatural films in which the presence of phantoms is unquestionable, yet said ghosts are never seen, THE INNOCENTS takes a completely different tact by vividly portraying these ghostly apparitions, without ever confirming that these visitations are real or simply within the imagination of the central character. The potent screenplay by John Mortimer, William Archibald and Truman Capote maintains a certain ambiguousness about the ghostly goings on, which certainly gives one much to ponder, even after the filmís unforgettable climax has faded to black.

THE INNOCENTS stars Deborah Kerr as Miss Giddens, who is hired as a governess by the bachelor uncle of two orphaned children, whom he wants no part of. From the moment Miss Giddens at the country estate where the children are sequester, she notices something very odd in the behavior of her charges. Additionally, Miss Giddens begins seeing the specters of her deceased predecessor, as well as the young womanís cruel lover, who was valet on the estate, up until the time of his death. Putting two and two together, Miss Giddens comes to suspect that the restless spirits of the former governess and valet are somehow controlling the children in an attempt to claw their way back into the world of flesh and blood. For an early 1960ís film, THE INNOCENTS is rather shocking in nature, although the shocking aspects of the movie have very little to do with the supernatural aspects of the story. And, after more than forty years, THE INNOCENTS has lost little of its potency to shock audiences, although I wonít say how, lest it would spoil the surprises for those who have never encountered the film. The cast of THE INNOCENTS also features Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Clytie Jessop and Isla Cameron.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE INNOCENTS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. A pan and scan version is available on the opposite side of the disc, but it does a major disservice to this marvelous CinemaScope film, so it wonít be reviewed here. Freddie Francisí wonderful black and white cinematography is very well served by the first rate widescreen transfer. The image is crisp and nicely detailed. Blacks are velvety, whites are crisp and the picture boasts excellent contrast and grayscale. Film grain is mild, but enhances the movie-like quality of the presentation. The film elements are in great shape for their age, displaying very few blemishes and other signs of wear. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

THE INNOCENTS comes with a remixed Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that opens the sound up to some extent, but isnít always satisfying when one plays the track back through their surround decoder. Occasionally, sounds seem to emanate from the wrong speakers, but it isnít too distracting. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a very respectable sonic quality. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. Musical fidelity is decent, without any distortion or brittleness, but then again the track is rather stark in that area anyway. A Spanish monaural track is also provided on the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer and bonus trailers.

THE INNOCENTS is a minor classic that has been given a fine presentation on DVD at bargain price. If you are interested in seeing a "thinking manís horror movie," instead of something newer and far less thought provoking, THE INNOCENTS is definitely a film to check out. If you are already a fan, then the DVD comes highly recommended.



The Innocents (1961)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



Add to My Yahoo!  Add to Google  RSS Feed & Share Links