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The Turn of the Screw
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Monthly Reads > The Turn of the Screw - 03 - Adaptations

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message 1: by Zeljka (last edited Dec 02, 2012 03:44AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
The horror fiction, especially the gothic one, was always grateful source of work for filmmakers. Same applies for Henry James' novel The Turn of the Screw – there are more than twenty adaptations of this James' piece of work. Can you imagine that? Some of them are actually movie adaptations of Benjamin Britten's opera based on the same novel. Well, if you had seen anything at all, marvellous, I would love to hear what do you think of it.
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Of "older" adaptations, John Frankenheimer's television play of The Turn of the Screw (TV 1959) features Ingrid Bergman, but I find the movie The Innocents (1961) more interesting. It is an awarded film where Deborah Kerr is the bewildered governess.

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From 1979 comes apparently good TV adaptation of The Turn of the Screw featuring Lynn Redgrave. There is also a 56 minutes long adaptation made 1989, that features Amy Irving and a Blow-Up's main actor David Hemmings, but its rates are really lousy ones. Bad ratings got also the The Turn of the Screw (1992) Brits made set in 1960s, with Patsy Kensit and Julian Sands in the main roles. It is really a shame for the latter actor, I like him very much (key words: A Room with a View (1985)).

OK that leaves us with four newer adaptations that might be easily obtainable. The first one, The Turn of the Screw (1999) gives us adorable Jodhi May whom we might remember from the roles in The Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Deronda, The Mayor of Casterbridge and Emma. The incentive to see it despite the meager ratings might also be the appearance of famous BBC's Mr Darcy :-)
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Just the same year the Spanish produced adaptation was made, Presence of Mind , with the appearance of both Jude Law and his today ex-wife, Sadie Frost, while the master is Harvey Keitel.


The newer adaptation, made 2006, In a Dark Place offers the performances of Leelee Sobieski and Tara Fitzgerald. The poster is really cool although the ratings are oh so low.


I am a bit puzzled by bad ratings of almost all the adaptations. The last one, The Turn of the Screw (2009) with Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey also has bad ratings.


Maybe the novel really isn't the easy one to adapt on screen. However, The Innocents (1961) has very high ratings. On the other hand, there aren't many voters on some adaptations, so I wouldn't rely on what the ratings say. I myself will try to see as many as possible.


If you are interested in seeing the Benjamin Britten's opera on screen, BBC made one in 2004, named literally Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Britten.


Ridiculous but there is also a PREQUEL to the novel (note: not written by Henry James of course), The Nightcomers (1971) with Marlon Brando looking gloomily from the poster.

It is said that Alejandro Amenábar's script of The Others (2001) was partly inspired by the novel. AWESOME, as I really love this movie. I have seen it four times already, if not even five. Maybe the reading of this novel would be my incentive to see it once again :-)


That would be all for an introduction to this discussion. Now, I would love to hear you, have you seen or would like to see any of above mentioned movies or any other based on this book etc...


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments I only watched last one from the list, The Others..and it's pretty good movie, definitely one of the better from Nicole Kidman...
I'll try to read the book but I already got 3 books to read so...


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Haha I completely understand you, my list is long too, not to mention A Clash of Kings that is really A MUST this month :-) I'll try to read this one though, as is not really long. Besides I'm curious to see those movies mentioned above. Well, not all of them of course - I doubt I'll find more than three of them.


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments Also on Martin, but on A Dance With Dragons...reading second book before the start of season 2 of ''Game of Thrones''?


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Denis wrote: "Also on Martin, but on A Dance With Dragons...reading second book before the start of season 2 of ''Game of Thrones''?"

I am sooo predictable ;-) Congratulations on starting the fifth book! Beware of high expectations - I heard it is not, not even nearly, the end of the series :-)


Katalili | 3 comments Nope, no end in sight. ^^ Still a great read for fans of the series ;) I never knew there's been so many adaptations of this novel. Thnx for the info!


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Thank you for reading :-) I like browsing the net for such trivia. GR seems really good site to put all the interesting stuff at one place, no need to bother yourself with your own website for it.


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments You also should not have too high expectations of the ''Clash'', especially first half of the book, but it gets better to the end...

By the way, I started reading ''The Turn of The Screw'', it's not long one, so I'll squeeze it in this month's must read :D


message 9: by Zeljka (last edited Mar 01, 2012 12:50AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Denis wrote: "You also should not have too high expectations of the ''Clash''... "

Yes, I got some decent warnings about that, not to mention Dahlia's review too. Well, I hope it won't dissapoint me. Some things I didn't like in the first book too, such as some scenes way too descriptive for my taste, but same goes for the series - I just learnt not to pay much attention to it.

Great for starting "The Turn of the Screw"! - I hope to begin reading it in the next few days, after finishing one more book from the February :-)


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments Watched ''The Innocents'' and it's good movie, great adaptation of 'not-so-good' book. But also I think it's slightly overrated (96% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7,9/10 on IMDB). The movie successfully created disturbing atmosphere, what book fails to deliver. And the ending is highlight of the movie.

7/10 from me for ''The Innocents''


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
In a course of ten days, I've managed to see FIVE versions of the same story. Now, as much as I do love period movies, that number in such a short period of time even I would consider masochistic, especially if not really liking the story itself. It was actually a torment, I admit, but my silly curiosity prevailed - I really wanted to know how each director would approach the same story.
Regardless of the horror setting, James's The Turn of the Screw is basically a character study, in which I might have been a bit harsh to the author, because of exaggerating affectation and illogicality, but the story is anyway intriguing as a film narrative, providing you have strong actors, able to pull the roles, as well as the screenwriter able to overcome the deficiencies of the original source.
Well, I think there's the only one movie that achieved that - The Innocents (1961). Unlike the other movies, it didn't strictly follow the original story. That is the only version I think James actually wouldn't approve, as it (in my opinion) makes more sense than the original source. But I would greatly wrong the movie saying it strayed from the original, it didn't – the ending is effective just like in the book – it just achieved more natural flow of narrative, making it surprisingly logical, without losing a bit of the governess's character James wanted to depict. Deborah Kerr as well as all the other actors (the children especially) did marvelous job here, even the ghosts were perfect. In all the other movies, children were spooky and irritating from the beginning, while in this one you may the whole time really sense the angelic and innocent features of the children, in the near future so layered with the governess's anxieties. OK, in short, The Innocents (1961) is in my opinion a masterpiece. Black and white screen as well as the gorgeous scenery, beatific music and truly unsettling sound effects emphasized the ominous atmosphere that encircled the events in the governess's mind.
Only this one and The Turn of the Screw (1999) are set in Victorian England or at least in the 19th century England. Jodhi May did great job here, but as the story is almost same as the original, it was a bore – not bad, but not really intriguing either. Presence of Mind is set maybe in the same period, but on a really awesome old Spanish estate on Mallorca. Although Lauren Bacall was impressive in the role of Mrs Grose, the story itself was a bit dull. By the way, Jude Law's five seconds on screen aren't even close-ups, so don't bother to watch the movie only for him.
The newest The Turn of the Screw (2009) is set in England after the Great War, adds a bit of freshness with the ambience of the psychiatric hospital, but in other aspects isn't really special. Like In a Dark Place set in the modern England (I guess, as is filmed in Luxembourg...), it is more sexually explicit, which does not improve the narrative at all, it makes it only more spicy – for an audience that doesn't care for such things. The latter mentioned is the worst movie of all seen – the only one in which I really blessed the fast forward function of the movie player. Leelee Sobieski was sweet, the scenery was lovely, the setting even different – in the snowy winter rather than the summer – but the costume designs and the script, actually everything else, was appalling.
Er... I think that would be all. From me, at least ;-)
In short, my ratings:
The Innocents (1961) - 8
The Turn of the Screw (1999) - 5
Presence of Mind (1999) - 6
The Turn of the Screw (2009) - 5
In a Dark Place - 3


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Oh, I forgot to mention -- did you know who is one of the screenwriters of The Innocents (1961)?

Truman Capote Truman Capote - really, what a surprise! And there are so many his books (the adaptations as well) I want to read :-)


Denis (crnisokol) | 15 comments Yesterday I watched The Turn of The Screw adaptation from 2009...at first it seemed like episode of Downton Abbey started :D...well the movie isn't bad but not good also...The Innocents was better in every segment..

I give it 6/10


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Denis wrote: "...at first it seemed like episode of Downton Abbey started :D"

LOL to me also :D I wonder did their on-screen chemistry here had anything with their casting later in Downton Abbey :)


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Zeljka wrote: "In a course of ten days, I've managed to see FIVE versions of the same story. Now, as much as I do love period movies, that number in such a short period of time even I would consider masochistic, ..."

I agree, Zeljka, that The Innocents is a brilliant film in its own right, even if it does play fast and loose with the novella at times. That might be because the real source for the film was a stage play of the same name from the 1950's.

The sudden, unexpected appearances of the ghosts are startling and the sound effects add so much to the unsettling atmosphere, as in this You Tube clip...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmwJ-I...


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "That might be because the real source for the film was a stage play of the same name from the 1950's."

Interesting, Joe, didn't know that. That explains a lot.

Clip is great, thanks for sharing!


message 17: by Helen (new)

Helen Stevens (helenszone) | 2 comments The Innocents is an absolutely superb film. Perhaps not as ambiguous as Henry James might have intended the story to be, but nonetheless, superb. It's the performances of the two child actors that really stays with you - brilliantly creepy.

I've not seen any of the other adaptations, and from both the comments here and the reviews, I don't think I want to. I'd rather rewatch the Innocents over & over :)


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Helen wrote: "The Innocents is an absolutely superb film. Perhaps not as ambiguous as Henry James might have intended the story to be, but nonetheless, superb..."

I felt the same - beside the governess the children were the most important figures in the film. It wouldn't be nearly so effective if they hadn't been so, well, good!


Zeljka (ztook) | 2936 comments Mod
Only after the narrator nonchalantly mentioned the turn of the screw in the introductory scene of the first episode, I realised that The Haunting of Bly Manor is based on this story. It took some liberties of course, but it actually was very very good. I'll recommend watching it!

I'll note (the source from IMDB) the other James's stories that inspired the making of this series: "The Jolly Corner," "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," "The Great Good Place," "The Pupil," "The Two Faces", "The Way It Came" and "The Beast in the Jungle."

I didn't particularly like the title story above, but I am quite curious to read these other stories. And the title story again. Maybe I'll interpret it differently now. (or not)


Blueberry (blueberry1) | 158 comments I also enjoyed the miniseries but not the book so much. I didn't know James' other works were involved in the movie making. Interesting.


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