Richard Davies wrote (about Jack Clayton's _The Innocents_):

> All this may sound trivial but the 2 cuts make the movie much less
> frightening. Also make it more likely the governess is seeing things, etc.
> Such tiny cuts seem likely to be the work of the director. I think he may
> have wanted to make the movie less ambiguous - but at considerable cost to
> the movie, IMO

I haven't seen the film, but having taught the original James novel I'm moved
to ask if you mean the movie absent those cuts pushes the psychological
interpretation (that the governess imagines the ghosts). Because if the events
in the film can be taken equally convincingly as involving either
hallucinations or the presence of real ghosts, then it would seem Clayton's
cuts (if indeed his) would keep the adaptation very close to the James
work--and thus more, not less, ambiguous.

It's easy to read the original fiction as a ghost story, and as such it will be
frightening (given that children are endangered); but there's also a lot of
evidence in the work that points to instability in the governess, who's under
great psychological and cultural pressures to protect the sexual innocence of
Miles and Flora. Yet if the governess is imagining the ghosts the terrible
effect this has on both her and the children also makes the story frightening
(if in perhaps a less obvious way). If Clayton decided sometime after the
original cut that excising those few seconds would actually make the film
closer in ambiguity to the novel, that would seem a good decision.

BTW, anyone interested in pursuing the long critical history of discussion and
arguments about James's novel might check out the edition published by Bedford
Books of St. Martin's Press, edited by Peter G. Beidler, as part of its Case
Studies in Contemporary Criticism.

--Jim Marsden, Bryant College

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