Previous Turn Of The Screw Adaptations
Easily the most famous adaptation of The Turn of the Screw is Jack Clayton's 1961 film The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr in the lead role, and based in part on a stage play adaptation of the same name by Harold Pinter. The film is uniquely terrifying, and remains one of the most influential horror movies of all time. In fact, the ghosts seen (or not seen) lurking in the background of The Haunting of Hill House have echoes of The Innocents' famous shots of the ghostly Miss Jessel standing stock-still in the distance.
There have been numerous other film adaptations over the years, and there's actually a new adaptation on the way called The Turning, which was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and stars Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project) as Miles and Flora. The most recent adaptation prior to this was a 2009 BBC TV film, which moved the setting of the story to the 1920s and starred Michelle Dockery as the governess, Ann, and Dan Stevens as a psychiatrist to whom she tells her story. This adaptation took certain creative liberties with the original story - but The Haunting of Bly Manor will almost certainly change the story even more.
How Netflix's Haunting Of Bly Manor Will Change The Story
Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is about a group of amateur paranormal investigators who seek to discover whether the stories of Hill House, a creepy old estate built by a deranged architect called Hugh Crain, is actually haunted. The research is led by Dr. Montague, who is accompanied by Hill House's heir, Luke Sanderson, and two women who have had previous experiences with paranormal phenomena: Theodora and Eleanor. While staying in the house, they begin to experience frightening supernatural events, and the novel ends with Eleanor - possessed by a strange obsession with Hill House - driving a car into a tree and presumably being killed.
The Haunting of Hill House kept some elements and character names from the book, making Hugh Crain the patriarch of the family that moves into the house, with children called Luke, Theo, and Nell (a.k.a. Eleanor). The Dudleys, two servants who look after the house, are also present in the TV show, and Flanagan also recreates the infamous "Whose hand was I holding?" scene from the novel. However, in order to adapt a short novel into a 10-hour TV show, the story was necessarily changed and made longer and more complex. Given that The Turn of the Screw is even shorter than The Haunting of Hill House, it's safe to assume that Flanagan will once again use the source material as inspiration for a largely original story. Even the title itself is a deviation, since Bly is never referred to as "Bly Manor" in James' story.
Though we don't know anything yet about The Haunting of Bly Manor's story and characters just yet, we can guess based on the first season that Flanagan will keep the bones of the original story and build upon them. Core characters like Miss Jessel, Peter Quint, Flora, Miles, and Mrs. Grose will likely still be present - though possibly altered. There's also a good chance that the story will, like The Haunting of Hill House, be moved to the present day as opposed to its original 1940s setting. We'll bring you further updates on The Haunting of Bly Manor as they become available.
The Haunting of Bly Manor will release on Netflix in 2020.