The Turning (2020) directed by Floria Sigismondi is a completely controversial and rather strange film. On the one hand, this is the adaptation of the famous story by Henry James “The Turn of the Screw”, the debate about the meaning of which has not ceased to this day. On the other hand, this is a familiar story about a haunted house, which, in spite of all the hackneyedness of the plot, is capable of surprising.
The plot of the story centers around the experiences of a young governess who moves to work in a giant Gothic mansion. She takes care of two children: the elder brother Miles and the youngest Flora. Over time, the governess begins to see the ghosts of people who, she thinks, lived in this house before. She learns that the nanny had a relationship with a former servant of the mansion before her, and before her death, they spent time with each other and with both children. The girl begins to believe that their spirits want to take over the bodies of children in order to continue their relationship.
The book ends with the heroine taking Flora to London and trying to save her brother, but he dies right in her arms. There are no indications or hints as to whether the ghosts really existed or whether the governess just went crazy and came up with all this – no.
The fact that The Turn of the Screw does not talk about whether the protagonist is really crazy is actually a significant part of its popularity among hundreds of similar, more understandable ghost stories in mansions.
The plot of the film “The Turning”, unfolds almost according to the same pattern as the plot of the book, but goes even deeper into the emotional experiences of the main character Kate (Mackenzie Davis). From what is shown in the film, we learn that the girl is afraid of losing her mind and becoming like her insane mother. At the beginning of the picture, she says goodbye to her mother (Joely Richardson), who lives in some mental institution and compulsively paints pictures at the bottom of an empty pool, and leaves.
Kate gets a job as a governess in a large mansion and either slowly loses her mind, or really discovers ghosts, the presence of which threatens the lives of her charges.
At first it seems to us that they decided to focus the film adaptation around the idea of the second scenario: the ghosts are real, and Kate really saves the children. But after a while, the usual narrative breaks off, and at the end of the film we see the girl go inside her own mind and wake up in a four-poster bed at the bottom of the pool from the beginning of the film. She gets up, walks up to her mother and screams. Why? Because she realizes that she has turned into her mother and her worst nightmare has really come true.
The Turning Ending Explanation
The plot of the film has two possible endings. The first confirms that the ghosts of Quint’s servant and Miss Jessel’s nanny exist and that Kate managed to escape and escape with her children. Another and more frightening version of the ending is that Kate really went crazy. Since we know that Kate’s mother was insane, then Kate most likely inherited this madness from her, and all that we see throughout the film is only the illusions and hallucinations of a mentally ill girl.
Therefore, we can say that the finale remains open. For those who like happy endings, the first option is suitable. Well, the version that all the events of the film take place in Kate’s head is suitable for fans of unexpected endings like “Others” or the same “Shutter Island”. If this ambiguity works, that’s the whole point of the story.
The Turning – Official Trailer Review (Universal Pictures 2020)
Meaning of the film The Turning
Like the original novel by Henry James, The Nanny is a perfect example of an unreliable storyteller. In literature and cinema, there is a so-called unspoken rule, following which, everything that the protagonist says must be true. The untrustworthy storyteller is a genre of literature in which the protagonist deliberately tells a story that is untrue or far from the truth. And since we are used to associating ourselves with him, we take what he said at face value, doubting only when there are good reasons for it.
The same thing happens in The Turning, because until the end of the film we think that all events are real, and the lead narrator (Kate) simply tells his, albeit a little dark, story. In the end, doubts about the veracity of what is shown increase, but since we are used to trusting the narrator, the ending still raises questions, which we tried to answer.
The most famous example of an unreliable storyteller in cinema is the aforementioned “Shutter Island”, which, if you are interested in this genre, we strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with.