"Innocence" is one of those films and it is both beautiful and intriguing at the same time. It is based on a book by Frank Wedekind called 'Mine-Haha or the corporeal education of girls', the only published fragment of his unfinished novel "Hildalla". It was first published in 1901 and although beautifully written it is much darker undertones of a body cult of youth and natural beauty which would later become exploited by Nazi culture.
The film is very much a metaphor for a childhood world which is in many ways separate but also protected from that of adults. It plays in an isolated Girls School their children enter at the time when they start to make their own independent experiences of the world around them and ends with the onset of puberty and attainment of menarche, both symbolising the emotional and physical end of childhood. The cinematography is beautiful and reminded me in many ways of Tarkovsky with its symbolism and haunting images. However, the story can seem a little simplistic and linear times and often appears to demand more depth from the young child actors than they could possibly deliver.
Nevertheless this is a very interesting and thought-provoking film and well worth watching. The French dialogue often has a musical quality and as long as you're prepared to watch this in a calm and unhurried state of mind this is very rewarding and unusual cinematic experience.
"Innocence" tells that story of a secluded home for girls. The home is in the middle of a vast forest, isolated from the rest of the world. Girls arrive in the home, at a very young age, in a coffin. As the girls age, they earn different colored ribbons which symbolize their age. When the girls reach puberty and maturity, they are released to the world.
"Innocence" is reminiscent of the great German silent films of the 20s. There is a lot of silence and attention to expression. But what "Innocence" has in spades over the silent films is color. Color color color!! The beautiful forest is probably the most memorable trait of the movie. The forest itself is a show stopper.
I almost don't know what else to say about this film. It's just magical. It's something that must be experienced. There are few films as beautiful as this, and few that really illustrate the innocence of a child.
One thing that cannot be looked over is a problem many people have with this film. This "problem" is minor nudity; that is, underage girls without clothes. There are scenes where young girls are completely naked and one scene where a girl who is starting puberty is studying her body and its changes. Even though all of these traits all very important aspects of the film's story and message, some people feel very uncomfortable about this and feel like it's "pedophilic". People who think about it this way are thinking about it all wrong: this film has nothing to do with pedophilia. The fact that we connect these images to sexuality and pedophilia is actually laughable considering what the story is about. Maybe these people would look at this imagery in a different way...if they still had their innocence.
Supposedly there was some sexual material involving a minor for this to be rated 'R', but I did not see any reason for this.... (???) I don't remember any scene involving sexual material....