There are few actors who could be more mesmerising than Deborah Kerr. So imagine the mesmerising Kerr being mesmerised! Couple this with creepy kids, Michael Redgrave and list of screenwriters which includes Truman Capote. That’s what Jack Clayton‘s 1961 film The Innocents is all about -plus the whole haunting thing.
The British supernatural gothic horror is based on Henry James‘s The Turn of the Screw, and is widely received as being pretty spooky in a psychological sort of way. It’s even on Martin Scorsese’s list of his 11 scariest films of all time
The story follows young governess Kerr becoming increasingly convinced that the house and the grounds she works in are haunted.
The movie’s strength comes through the atmosphere created by cinematographer Freddie Francis, with bold, minimal lighting and deep focus. And the lonely country house was shot at the real Gothic mansion of Sheffield Park in Sussex.
But the soundscape too is also of note, and has inspired the likes of Kate Bush; plus the O Willow Waly song appears on the cursed tape in the 2002 The Ring; Derren Brown‘s Svengali; and the Woman in Black: Angel of Death.
The Innocents is being show at the Exeter Picturehouse, and is organised by Exeter University as part of the programme of events linked to the RAMM’s exhibition Art & Soul: Victorians and the Gothic.
You might also want to take a trip through Jack Clayton’s other films, which includes Room at the Top, and The Great Gatsby from 1974 (the one with Robert Redford).
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