DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Innocents

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Aug 29, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    THE INNOCENTS





    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 1961

    U.S. Rating: Not Rated
    Canadian Rating: Not Rated

    Film Length: 100 minutes
    Genre: Thriller/Horror

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1 enhanced widescreen (Cinemascope)
    Colour/B&W: B&W

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes







    Release Date: September 6, 2005.



    Entertainment Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Deborah Kerr (Miss Giddens), Peter Wyngarde (Peter Quint), Megs Jenkins (Mrs. Grose), Michael Redgrave (The Uncle), Martin Stephens (Miles), Pamela Franklin (Flora)

    Novel by: Henry James (The Turn of the Screw)

    Written by: John Mortimer, William Archibald, Truman Capote
    Directed by: Jack Clayton


    A strange new experience in shock.[/i]



    Based on the 1898 Henry James horror novel The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents is a spooky interpretation of the book and translates well to film. Based in 19th Century England, Deborah Kerr plays Miss Gibbons, the newly hired governess of an orphan child named Flora. Flora is soon joined by her brother Miles; he’s no more than eleven years old but he has the charm, whit, and personality of an adult. In fact, he’s too smart for his own good because of his adult nature. He’s been sent home from a boarding school for behaviour that we never really come to know, but more than likely it’s rooted from the bad influence a former valet, crude Peter Quint, has had on the boy.

    Miss Gibbons knows something isn’t right with the children spend a strange amount of time together and by the way they spend it together. She knows they are hiding a secret of some sort that they refuse to tell. In addition to this, Miss Gibbons is seeing ghosts, one of a man and the other of a woman. She’s accepting of these apparitions and wants to know who they could be of. But it seems even the maid isn’t willing to give much information in Miss Gibbons’s quest for answers until it is revealed the ghosts are of the former governess and the valet. Both died mysterious deaths and they long to be with each other. They’ve found a way to do this through the children – a possession of some sort, which explains the wickedness of Miles’s character.

    Miles has been exposed to Quint too long. He’s developed a mouth of crude words when he’s angry and a subtle sexual desire. Whether that is the boy or Quint working through him, we don’t really know, but Miles shocks the audience as he holds a long kiss on Miss Gibbons. This kiss is reciprocated later in the film.

    Miss Gibbons is on a quest to save these innocent children from the possession of their personalities from these ghosts. She believes that she can rid them of these demons up to the downbeat and shocking climax of the film. This is a movie not to miss.

    I think all actors have done an awesome job in their performances. The uneasy relationship between Miss Gibbons and Miles is clearly established because the movie takes time for character development. There are lots of subtleties in this film; many of the adult nature that undoubtedly was pushing a boundary at the time. I was very impressed with this movie and it will go down as one of my favourites for this year.


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I am very impressed with the video quality of this DVD. First of all, I must say, the cinematography of this film is the first thing that stands out. Cinematographer Freddie Francis uses a lot of contrast between foreground and background images using shots that focus on people and objects. This isn’t always done to highlight important things in the picture, but is used more to make the visuals more interesting or to put more into the frame without cluttering it up. The resulting effect looks very three dimensional and much more visually exciting than most movies today. This movie also screams to be in colour too – so much in fact that when I think back to the beautiful garden landscapes, I think of them in colour.

    For a ghost story, much of the movie is set in the daylight so you don’t have to worry about squinting and looking for detail in the darkness. It works too; the apparitions of Miss Jessel across the pond are spooky in the daylight. She does nothing but stand there in the distance as your eye tries to focus on her and make out her details.

    The dark moments in the film aren’t very dark; black levels look accurate, and while they are a little ‘higher’ than other movies I believe this was the intent. The disc is free from compression artefacts and only a hint of edge enhancement is present.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is a fake stereo soundtrack and the original mono soundtrack is not included on this DVD. Dialogue and sound effects come from the far left-right speaker locations with very little to no focus between them. The sound is scattered at best, a characteristic of fake stereo soundtracks, but all dialogue is intelligible. There is no hiss, crackles or pops to worry about.

    At a louder volume level the soundtrack is highly effective in its presentation. From the haunting opening music-box hymn to the visual of a black screen, the quietness of the soundtrack sets the mood for the eeriness that lies ahead. Sometimes the sound can be bright, mostly in the screaming or the louder moments in the film. It’s quite noticeable because there isn’t much presence below the midrange. I wouldn’t call this a balanced soundtrack.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    The only special feature on this disc is the theatrical trailer. At least it’s in 2.35:1 and is enhanced for widescreen televisions. That’s more than what can be said for newer films and their 4:3 letterbox theatrical trailers. The sound is rough and in mono.


    IN THE END…

    I enjoyed this movie immensely and I highly recommend you viewing this film. For mainstream cinema, this was one of the earlier films that tried to push the boundaries for adult themes. While the movie may not generate a whole lot of scares, it is effectively eerie and Deborah Kerr effectively portrays her fear. With a great performance coupled with excellent cinematography, The Innocents is a DVD you should not skip out on.

    Michael Osadciw
    05.08.29
     
  2. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer

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    Thanks for the review, Michael. I love this film, and can't wait to grab it on the 6th.
     
  3. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    If it's true the sound has been reworked in stereo (from the original mono), then this is another disc I'll be giving a miss. Surely to god the release version will retain the original audio configuration?...
     
  4. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Hi Gary

    Just fake stereo and Spanish mono on the release.

    Mike
     
  5. JeremySt

    JeremySt Screenwriter

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    I can finally retire my TCM recording. Im not fan of "modernized" cover art, but this one is kinda cool.

    Thank you Fox home video! [​IMG]
     
  6. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

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    As for me, I've learned the hard way that some
    titles only have one dvd release...even this one with only the fake stereo soundtrack will be my one and only chance to own the movie.
    I will certainly buy this.

    I'm a huge deborah kerr fan.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    While this disc is beautifully rendered as far as image, the audio is in and out of sync during the first reel.

    I don't recall this as a production (loop) defect, but cannot be certain.

    RAH
     
  8. JeremySt

    JeremySt Screenwriter

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    Would the defect be present on the TCM broadcast if it was a defect in the original production looops?
     
  9. Patrick H.

    Patrick H. Second Unit

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    Nuts. [​IMG]
     
  10. Kai Penttila

    Kai Penttila Agent

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    Didn't notice any first-reel out-of-sync problem on my copy of the LD, which, incidentally, has the original mono track.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Normally when attempting to check or locate sync, one goes to a hard hit of some sort, rather than watching lips. If one is having a sync problem, usually bringing the hit back into sync will also bring in the dx. If this doesn't work, you've a problem, ie. cut track or image or production problems.

    The hit in Innocents is the closing of a carriage door, which feels out by 4-6 frames.

    RAH
     
  12. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    I too noticed a subtle sync. issue in the beginning. I had never seen this film before and it was excellent. VERY spooky! Actually gave me nightmares last nite which is rare! The trailer is a hoot too. Looks like an Ed Wood film! Incredibly cheesy and doesn't suit the film at all.

    [​IMG] d
     
  13. Patrick H.

    Patrick H. Second Unit

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    I couldn't resist picking this up for only $8 at my area record shop last week. Never having seen it in widescreen before, this was a revelation. As for the audio, I watched it very closely, and the ONLY sync issue I picked up was the carriage door shutting which RAH mentioned. I listened to the same scene on the Spanish track, and it's off there too. The dialogue all seemed okay to me.
     
  14. DavidBC

    DavidBC Second Unit

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    I just watched this for the first time and thought it was spectacular! It's a shame such a treasure of a movie wasn't promoted or given the Studio Classics treatment; if only to give this great movie more exposure...
     
  15. Bonnie*F

    Bonnie*F Stunt Coordinator

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    My next door neighbor ordered The Innocents on VHS and it arrived on DVD. Since we've been slowly giving her (and the American Red Cross Apheresis Center) our VHS tapes as they're replaced by DVD's, she decided to give the DVD copy to us instead of sending it back.
    Since I've never seen this before, it'll work for one of the new movies in the Scary Movie Challenge.
    Thanks for the reviews and commentary. I'm looking forward to watching it.
     
  16. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    I agree. Why pass on it. Mine copy has been ordered.
     

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