The Innocents (1961)

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Released 24-May-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Stills And Poster Gallery
Trailer-Dragonwyck, Anna Karenina, Topper/Topper Returns, Tess
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 95:10
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jack Clayton

Madman Entertainment
Starring Deborah Kerr
Peter Wyngarde
Megs Jenkins
Michael Redgrave
Martin Stephens
Pamela Franklin
Clytie Jessop
Isla Cameron
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Georges Auric

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Set in a beautiful stately mansion of country England around 1840, The Innocents is a superb tale of possession of the innocent by malevolent spirits.

    The film is based on the classic 1898 Henry James novella The Turn Of The Screw. The screenplay, adapted by William Archibald and Truman Capote, is deliberately unhurried and rich in wonderful dialogue. This, together with the film's astonishing gothic style art direction, presented cinematographer Freddie Francis with the ideal foundation for his extraordinary use of  black and white Cinemascope.

    The Innocents is simply laden with ambience without the need for the usual special effects found in current day films of the genre. The creepy atmosphere is sustained throughout the entire film, which is also a great credit to Producer/Director Jack Clayton. He has maintained the perfect level of tension and mystique without any pretensions or excess.

    The film also relies heavily on the strength of its actors. The performances from this relatively small cast are all exceptional, especially Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin in roles that demand authenticity.

    Miss Giddons (Deborah Kerr) takes the position of governess to two orphaned children, Miles (Martin Stephens) and his sister, Flora (Pamela Franklin). Their uncle (Michael Redgrave) is very open about his lavish London lifestyle and doesn't wish to be to tied down by the children.

    Bly House is part of the uncle's large estate in country England, surrounded by beautiful gardens and ponds. On her arrival, Miss Giddons meets the two children, who have been eagerly awaiting the replacement for the late Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop), their previous governess. She also meets the only other resident of the mansion, the live-in housekeeper Mrs Grose (Megs Jenkins).

    In the early days after her arrival at the house, all four occupants learn about and get to know each other. Over time it becomes obvious to Miss Giddons that they may not be the only inhabitants of the house, although she seems to be the only person to see these apparitions.

     She learns that the uncle's deceased valet, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) and Miss Jessel were involved in a secret affair and their deaths were tragically linked. Miss Giddons becomes convinced these ghostly apparitions are indeed those of the two recently departed. The situation takes a chilling turn when the children's normally innocent behavioural patterns change and take on devious and uninhibited traits.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for The Innocents is quite superb, but a couple of relatively minor blemishes keep this transfer from the highest distinction.

    The transfer is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer exhibits wonderful sharpness and clarity. Blacks displayed excellent depth without any low level noise. Shadows were incredibly detailed and did justice to the film's masterful black and white cinematography.

    A couple of minor compression problems occur at 57:27 and 58:12 in the form of macro-blocking. Although these disappear very quickly from the screen without causing too much distraction, they do taint the overall video transfer. There are a few minor aliasing issues, but nothing of great consequence. Apart from this, film-to-video artefacts were well controlled. Reel change markings were noticeable at 14:28, 31:48 and 49:30, but again, these caused little concern. Film artefacts were occasionally evident, in the form of light marks and scratches, but were all very minimal in their nature.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layered disc. The layer change occurs at 61:04, is very noticeable and could have been better placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer is very basic, but perfectly adequate.

    There is one audio track available on this disc, English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue was clear and easily understood throughout the film. Audio sync was never an issue and appeared to be incredibly accurate.

     The music score by Georges Auric ranged from the whimsical through to being hauntingly dramatic in appropriate moments. I found that the score enhanced the overall mood of the film very well.

    The surrounds were not used.

    The subwoofer kicked in three times during the film. All instances involved thunder rumbles.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras on this disc are of no significant consequence. The advertised theatrical trailer on the rear of the cover slick does not feature on the disc.

    The menu is static black and white with looped music from the film and is 16x9 enhanced.

Stills and Poster Gallery

    With the quick running time of 1:32, this is a nondescript collection of colour exterior shots from the film. Apart from photographs, there are newspaper advertisements, reviews, press releases and a contract. Obviously you will need a big screen display to be able to read the text. No sound is featured on this very minor extra.

Umbrella Trailers   

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    At the time of this review there was no specific R1 version of The Innocents available.


    The Innocents is certainly one of the most beautiful and visually haunting ghost stories ever filmed. The stunning black and white cinematography of Freddie Francis is captivating from fade in to fade out. The performances from the small ensemble cast are all first class.

    The video transfer is first class, despite a few annoyances.

    The audio transfer is basic, but excellent in quality.

    The lack of extras is very disappointing, given the calibre of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Great film, but... - Neil REPLY POSTED
R1 DVD due later this year - Jace REPLY POSTED
Well, okay... - Neil
Apparent disc defects...? - JP McMullen REPLY POSTED
Re: Apparent disc defects...? - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED
Re: Re: Apparent disc defects...? -
widescreen? - REPLY POSTED