Search - Henry James' The Turn of the Screw on DVD

Henry James' The Turn of the Screw
Henry James' The Turn of the Screw
Actor: Jodhi May; Pam Ferris; Colin Firth; Joe Sowerbutts; Grace Robinson; Jason Salkey; Caroline Pegg; Jenny Howe
Director: Ben Bolt (II)
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Television, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2004     2hr 0min

A naive, young governess (May) is hired by a charming bachelor (Firth) to look after his two young children in a grand mansion in rural England. She is determined to make the most of her situation, despite the Master's str...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Jodhi May; Pam Ferris; Colin Firth; Joe Sowerbutts; Grace Robinson; Jason Salkey; Caroline Pegg; Jenny Howe
Director: Ben Bolt (II)
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, British Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/13/2004
Original Release Date: 02/27/2000
Theatrical Release Date: 02/27/2000
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Disturbing and rather chilling
Kurt A. Johnson | North-Central Illinois, USA | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"When a young woman (played by Jodhi May) begins her job as governess, everything seems to be perfect. However, there are secrets in her new house, and when she begins to see the ghosts of recently deceased servants, it becomes clear that there is evil afoot. However, no one else can see the ghosts, and her actions begin to seem more and more deranged. How can she protect her two charges, and what must she do? [Color, released in 1999, with a running time of 1:40 (2 hours with the Masterpiece Theatre introduction and so forth).]

Overall, I found this to be a disturbing and rather chilling movie. The original Henry James' story is considered a classic ghost story, but in this movie, things are much less clear. Is the governess a sensitive young woman, who is struggling to overcome the machinations of a pair of evil ghosts who are establishing a grip on the previously angelic children? Or, is she a sexually repressed young woman whose psyche is moving her towards madness? It's up to you to decide...if you can!

Yes, this is an excellent movie, one that is certain to scare and disquiet you. I enjoyed this movie, and highly recommend it to you.
Bonita L. Davis | 09/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Any adaptation of a literary work to the screen runs the risk of coming across as too shallow. Such is not the case in Mobile Masterpiece Theatre's presentation of "The Turn of the Screw". You are immediately drawn into the psychological horror with its varied twists and turns that leads to who knows where? Identify with the naive character who is given the responsibility to manage the family affairs of a young bachelor who refuses to be bothered with his niece and nephew. Beguiled by his sexually powerful aura, our herione takes on the task. She meets perfectly sweet children in Flora and Miles. Miles in particular is precocious. He is also very adept at playing power games that go beyond that of a child having his or her way. She has the perfect job but there is an unsettling sense of evil in the manor. Ghosts of the former governess and valet haunt the scene and "Miss" becomes unglued but ever ready to "save" her charges. The psychological changes she goes through hits home. Is she mad? Have these ghost pocessed this children? How is it that a ten year old boy sounds and acts like a mature man making a pass at her? How "Miss" solves this mystery yet managing to keep her mind intact is the great challenge. Jodhi May does a splendid job in her performance as she battles evil that has enveloped the children. Truly this is a psychological drama befitting our attention. Its horror as to what has been done to the children is horrifying. Journey with the character through this dilema. At the beginning of this drama we are given an introduction as to the background of this story by James. Setting it in its context makes it all the more chilling for is it indeed fact or fiction? You decide."
The best adaptation of this James ghost story
J. Vogelsang | Philadelphia, PA | 08/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is the best adaptation of this James' work with the possible exception of "The Innocents" with Deborah Kerr, whose emphasis is strictly on the ghost story. This film however, is a must for those who love great story telling and want to be titillated by the twists and turns of not only the main plot but the very subtly intricate sub-plot that is raging underneath

For a long time this 19th century fireside ghost tale has entertained audiences for its thrilling and supernatural side. Those fans of the psychological bent that are more interested in its dally with a supposed "sexual hysteria" undercurrent, will be entertained as well. Some type of emotional regression takes place and that drives the main character, Miss, (Jodhi May) from careful dominance and maintenance of a fine household and her two beautiful charges, nicely turned by Joe Sowerbutts (Miles) and Little Grace Robinson (Flora) to a final and terribly complete conclusion.

Miss replaces a former governess who has died under questionable circumstances. That her employer, The Master, (Colin Firth) has frankly 'seduced' her into hurridly engaging as governess is only the tip of an iceberg of innuendo, symbolism and complicity. Having read the short story and seen this film, I am not totally convinced of the sexual hysteria theory although actress May, an Oxford English Literature graduate, has alluded to that very concept when questioned about this role. And that mystery and those questions are what make this tale so darned intriguing.

As Miss, May is complete. The very proper parson's daughter, well educated, mannered in all ways, pretty, and quite mindful of the impossible demands of her position: "Never trouble him, but never, never, neither appeal nor complain nor write about anything; only meet all questions herself, receive all moneys from his solicitor, take the whole thing over and let him alone"; as written by Henry James, places her in a position of power with no room for self-doubt or escape from failure.

As the story approaches its end Miss asks her God: "Victory requires only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue". And turn the screw she does with tragic and unforgivable results. May captures both the subtleties of confidence and passion while allowing this wonderful governess to slowly and completely unravel. The only thing better than watching this performance would have been to hear this story told on a dark, cold night by the fireplace 100 years ago.
J. MACKENZIE | Taconic, CT USA | 02/20/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Ben Bolt is a capable director, and the here he does a good job - with everything but his lead actor. The music is wonderful, just enough to make your spine tingle. The problem here is Jodhi May. She turns in a endlessly one-note performance. She seems to be focussing so hard on not ever blinking, while her mouth is perpetually agape. Mr Bolt must be to blame for this, because she certainly seems a decent actor. Nonetheless, her performance drags this interesting production down into the realm of a cartoon. Unfortunate, for the children and housekeeper - and ghosts - are solid supporting cast. The script also is awkward and at times clumsy. I suspect the other reviewer is correct in ideally wanting to hear this story read by firelight - either 100 years ago, or perhaps tonight."