A masterpiece of ghost-story cinema and haunting Victoriana. Wonderful adaptation of 'The Turn of ths Screw'. Takes the stage play 'The Innocents' and transforms it into a cinematic tour-de-force of innocence, corruption, dark secrets and above all ambiguity. The great thing is the ambiguity - the viewer is left to make up their own mind. Are the children being used by the ghosts of the dead servants (as it seems they were used by the servants when alive), are the apparitions real, is it all in the imagination of the repressed and hysterical governess, have the children been abused and corrupted, is it all a work of psychological symbolism (with the old mansion and the ghosts being used as symbols of the abuse of the children's innocence)? There is evidence to support all theories, which is exactly what Henry James intended with his story. Unlike the modern horror films which throw everything at you and don't allow your imagination to work, this film uses suggestion and ambiguity and stimulates your imagination.
The screenplay ('90% by Truman Capote') and script make great use of the old house and the images of decay and corruption amid its beauty and ornate Victoriana to show the dark heart of the tale. The cinematography in black and white cinemascope is used to perfection. The direction and the acting are all perfectly fitted to the story. In all, this creates a wonderful, claustrophobic and chilling world.
The BFI release DVD package is a thing to treasure. Apart from the movie itself there is a filmed intro and a commentary by Christopher Frayling, both of which give loads of fascinating backgound info and interpretation, a copy of Jack Clayton's 1st ever movie, and a lovely booklet.
A real work of art.