Notes on The Innocents (HUM425)

These are my notes on our screening of The Innocents. Nothing special. But I want to model this kind of activity for you.

The Innocents (d. Jack Clayton 1961)

black screen, child singing

bird song. title sequence.

hands, weeping.

as in prayer or supplication. clenched.

Kerr’s face. face tilted up. a breeze?

sub vocal: “All I want to do”

In bachelor uncle’s office.

Whatever happens. — we don’t really trust her.

lap dissolve to carriage.

camera positioned behind trees watch her

as she walks toward house.

voice calling. “Flora!”

reflection in water– Flora, clouds. inverted

Miss Gibbons. Kerr. Maid?

the semi-abandoned mansion.


Miles is Flora’s bro.

is Kerr thinking about the bachelor?

“The devil’s own eye.”


“Miles is coming!”

Mrs Gross is the maid.

candle light.

depth of field.

Flora’s prayer: she catches on “if I should die”

some people. just walk around. we must pretend we didn’t hear it. sometimes one can’t help but imagine things.

windows, curtains blowing. Flora watches Miss Gibbons. garden.


lap dissolve humming Kerr in bed to garden outside.

Flora’s creepy, knowing, uncanny.

composite? Flora extreme foreground, Gibbons in background (15-20 min. mark)

“an injury to others”: letter about Miles

“contaminate… corrupt”

Miles flatters Kerr. She questions him. Wind blows.

He misdirects her. Turns the discussion to other things.

“Trust me.” Candle blown out. lap dissolves

white roses. statuary. bug comes out of its mouth.

sound drops out except her skirt. a strange sound. looks up

to tower. figure on roof. dazzled by light.

slo mo (bug/doves)

following shot to door. door opens into interior.

sound of flies. stairs up camera tilt

2 [illegible] light cut to door opening out onto

rooftop. “he was looking at me”

one can never believe Flora– Miles. reliability really

in question.

Miles on horseback. framing, music to create anxiety.

strange noise shots of trees.

image of horse– Miles is coloring.

Flora’s image: G. thinks it’s flowers. F. says it’s

thunderstorm. too small to have secrets?

backstory for Gibbons. strange figure.

up steps shadows. disused room. old toy– puppet.

broken image. misdirection. (cuts).

tapestry along stairs is very gothic. mise en scene is a

combination of Victorian/ gothic. face in mirror.

windows reflect but transparent a double image.

Peter Quint.

high angle shot of kids laughing looking down

on Gibbons.

lap dissolve: miniature to Kerr sleeping restlessly.

screeching of Flora’s pen. “begging for attention!”

horrible. she’s so indulgent. trying to account for

Quint’s appearance. extreme foreground: not a composite.

Kerr switches position. (1 hr mark) horn on

table. story of Quint/Miles told by Gross.

Poem recited by M– Kerr against cushions with images

of medieval figures. “welcome my lord”

lingering after-image of Flora’s creepy face.

camera movement around Gross/ Kerr. series of 2 shots w/ both

figures facing camera. Quint/Miss Jessel.

lap dissolve between 3 images. intermediary image just a few seconds duration.

Jessel– Jezebel

2 shot set up gives depth

to closeup of K. overshoulder Flora’s back.

music box song. Figure appears. is someone

there or not?

“two of those abominations” “A woman dressed in black.”

No pride, no shame. It sounds like

Miss Gibbons, a projection of some facet of herself.

Totally abandoned. Fucking all over the house.

“Too much whispering.”

Following Kerr. during this exchange w/ Gross.

“The Innocents” a way of making her thought

process more compelling “Wandering all over the house, sobbing.”

Anna, the other maid. “Our secrets.”

montage while Kerr sleeps. Quint picture

turtle kids “watch her” extreme closeup of

mouth. very strange sounds. Quint on rooftop.

his hand and a child’s birds music box. distorted

music whispers. Ms. Jessel dancing w/ Flora Quint/Miles

candle blown out (1h20m?)

“talking horror”

“some stupid trick to get him to notice me”

Jessel committed suicide, drowned in lake.

church yard. tombstones. Flora leaves flowers on

Jessel’s grave.

Schoolroom. fly buzzing. sound of sobbing.

rapid cuts. Jessel’s ghost crying. a tear.

fly stops.

“everything has changed” Gibbons is totally out of it,

staring. “She spoke” Pitiless and hungry. A sexual

desire. They can only reach each other by possessing the kids

(implied incest). A perfect, paranoid explanation. Gross is

losing faith in Gibbons?

White roses as motif?  a sign of fantasy? madness. whispers.

roses in foreground. Kerr in robe like a rose. an

excess (blossom) profusion as a kind of madness. Dark/light


staircase candles creaking. whispers.

tapestry track/pan out then Kerr’s face –> misleading

misdirection. looks left/right.

sobs/music. voices that seem to be a

repetion of Quint/Jessel in past.

Kerr turns ceiling shot she keeps turning.

Confounded by. Mask on wall. To Flora’s bedroom

looking out window. Miles in garden.

lap dissolves face– bird– Kerr writing.

piano– same music as humming/ music box.

now Kerr is in all black, like Jessel.

Jessel in distance.

total tantrum. as if a demonic force.

all of this to undercut our certainty. is Kerr crazy?

Madness/ supernatural.

Hands extended to fire like credit sequence. Flora

screams throughout the night. Terror or rage.

Flora is cursing “such filth”. Gross says she

didn’t see the woman. “That bad memory.”

“It was like a pendulum” Miles

What am I to tell their uncle?

The truth.

The truth.

Gross has no idea what the truth is nor has


Gross/Flora leave.

Beautiful layering of visual field as carriage departs: Kerr/ pan/ Flora/ Gross. Three planes, one for each character.

I can’t judge you Miss, a body can only judge themselves.

very gothic exterior. statues. architecture. Kerr in

black gown.

Peacock’s cry.

Miles as if he’s controlled by Quint.

in greenhouse.

I said things. I frightened the other boys.

extreme closeup of Miles’ mouth.

Kerr thinks Quint is controlling him. High angle.


Miles is dead.


hand in dark.