MovieChat Forums > Innocence (2004) Discussion > Is it indeed about ... (SPOILERS)

Is it indeed about ... (SPOILERS)


I watched this today, in Amsterdam, and all the time I felt it had to do with pedophiles, or at least something concerning little girls being used by older men. The way the men are not shown fully, but very obscure, and the very suggestive way the other women are portrayed makes you think so. The director plays with the viewers ideas and thoughts, and in the end, there's this great anticlimax, going around every thought that popped up throughout the film. That bothered me. The logical conclusion I can jump to, is that there is this strange, private school for girls only, but that's pretty surreal, concerning the escapes and unhappiness amongst the girls.

Any ideas on the plot?

It is all,... an illusion

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When I saw this in a film festival, the director was there to answer questions from the audience - she said that for example in the scene where the girls dance for the darkened audience, many viewers only see the male figures in the darkness (and thus see it as a show that dirty old men come to watch, to see underage girls) - however, there was also women in the audience when they filmed it.

I didn't see the film as a story about pedophilia and judging from the comments of the director, she didn't really mean that - but you do have a point and I think it just goes to show that Innocence is open for many different interpretations.

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many viewers only see the male figures in the darkness (and thus see it as a show that dirty old men come to watch, to see underage girls) - however, there was also women in the audience when they filmed it.


Yes. You can clearly see numerous women in the audience; they aren't particularly hard to spot -- no more difficult than spotting the men, anyway.

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I can understand automatic duck's thoughts about the girl being targets of manipulation,

There is the scene where Iris runs through the forest and finds her way to one of the other houses, she creeps in and sees a man giving one of the violet ribbon girls an injection and says to her 'just relax, and don't worry' or something like that..

which, when i was watching it, made me think that maybe the school was some elaborate grooming school for drug addicted high class prostitutes. Which sounds terribly sinister, but you have to remember that Hadzihalilovic has been working with gaspar noe..
I thought this was plausible because of two points. First, the comparison between the girls and butterflies(wings during the dance,puberty/metamophosis), and Edith pinning the dead butterflies into the box frame. Secondly, they enter the school in coffins, which would suggest that they are doomed from the start

What do you think?

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Yes,

The butterflies symbolize metamorphosis, I guess.
The coffins might mean the children have been kidnapped, not sure if it should mean the girls are doomed.

The man giving the injection:
I first thought he was sedating her before 'doing' her. The girl that witnesses this then quickly leaves, so we do not see the full story, but it's all about this girl's perspective in the first place. So we see the innocent girl's point of view towards a massively scaled pimping farm, actually.

But what about their release? And the older women looking so melancholic? Were they rejected pre-prostitutes? I now understand what the ballet-lessons are for [being able to stretch ones body], and the women in the theatre could aswell be 'dealers' or pimps. Why should that just be men?

The drug-aspect is also quite logical, making the girls dependent on their suppliers, and thus not leaving them.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

It is all,... an illusion

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Personally, I wouldn't take such a highly symbolic movie on such literal terms. (But even if you were to do so, wouldn't you think it somewhat significant that if the place is a training camp for young prostitutes, no one actually ends up being a prostitute?)

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I didn't say that was my interpretation, i said it crossed my mind during the film, (not after it finished).

Anyway their fate is left unresolved by the fountain; so how do you know none of them go on to be prostitutes..

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Maybe we should discuss that fountainscene a bit more.

The ending of the movie is when the water absorbs the imagery. The girl and the boy, doing their little girlish/boyish first steps into love and affection, make way for beams of water, which is also, if I remember correctly, the imagery seen in the beginning. That might be a pretentious pseudo-intellectual symbol for looping or whatever, but it is obvious that there's a lot of 'circulation' going on here.

It is all,... an illusion

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The shot that the film opens to (cu bubbling water) appears in the film three times; beginning, end and if i remember rightly, after iris' friend commits suicide in the lake.

So it seems to me this shot creates negative connotations, Hadzihalilovic is drawing a connection between the temptations and consequentially corruptability of the outside world and the most sinful death.

But on that note it would also cast a negative shadow on the school itself, because at the beginning the we start of in the water and make our way from the forest, to the tunnels and then to the school.

Thus backing up the idea that the girls dance in the theatre could be an example of manipulation...


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Manipulation, sure. Absolutely. The girls are most definitely shaped to fit a certain mold, and those who refuse to conform are cast out. If you think about the "girls like Barbie, boys like technology; girls are emotional, boys are into logic" stuff many of us still take completely for granted, it certainly fits the picture.

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Regardless of my review/comments of the film, saying it was without real meaning, I will go forth with a very simplistic revelation about the meaning/message of the film.

Please throw away your lurid views about pedophilia, and a dark, manipulative environment.
This film (by a woman I might add) is a symbolic view of childhood as seen through a child's eyes...albeit, a now adult woman director who used a 100 year old unfinished story as a motif.

Why the mystery, and things that don't make sense?

Why the forbidding and manipulation as some may call it?

Think back to your own childhood (especially if you are female) This is a child's view of a grownup world; regimented, told what to do, even though it makes no sense to you.
Think of all your childhood fears, nightmares etc. This is how a child responds to the world. I can feel akin to these girls because though I am male, I too grew up in boarding schools. The "school" IS a metaphor of childhood; insular, and self-contained...segragated from the world of adults except the few that are caregivers and teachers.

And the ending, the fountain....yes, I think symbolically it was a stunning ending, and least least to me, unpredictable at first, but naturally putting everything into perspective. The girls first seeing the "outside world" is a natural step from puberty into adulthood. Yes, the fountain, the boy, the coy smile of Bianca, is indicative of sexual awakening, which is exactly the point of this movie...the gradual loss of innocence/childhood.

The film also uses water as a metaphor. Two examples would be birth itself, which the child from a sack of fluid is born, and death (the only way a child can excape childhood is by growing up, or untimely death) water being the ether or substance that all life comes from and where one returns too. That is why the fountain morphs back in to the watery beginning of the film. Bianca and the other girls have reached puberty, sexual awakening, and therefore are no longer "children" nor innocent.
Was it a great film? Not really, but I do commend the director for her first try, and I also condemn the many viewers who can only see darkness, evil, and pedophilia everywhere...which ironically, is what the film is implying as well.

Anyone who screams pedophilia had better read James Kincaid's epic work: Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian culture.

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Anyway their fate is left unresolved by the fountain; so how do you know none of them go on to be prostitutes..


You might as well conclude that it's a school for dancers. I mean, since their fate is left unresolved by the fountain, so how do we know none of them go on to be dancers? (Or car mechanics or politicians or housewives or magicians or hotel managers, for that matter. That's, uh, kind of one of the points here.)

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I think the whole school thing is an analogy for the social construction of childhood, with the girls dressed in white and kept away from any male presence. The whole walled enviroment with its mysterious glimpsed rituals and unknown outside world seems like a metaphor for an ideal of purity and unsexual childhood, in a slightly victorian way. That this is disrupted by the premature escape attempts and the recurrent imagery of water and tunnels underscores the artificiality of the school. I think scenes such as the bit with the glove and the final scene with the boy glimpsed through a spurting fountain make this clear. The whole uneasy child brothel undertones emphasise the issues about gender roles and sexuality.

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That's, uh, kind of one of the points here

you're silly, silly boy. Hush now

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Well, you certainly make a convincing argument.

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This film is most certainly NOT about "an elaborate grooming school for drug addicted high class prostitutes". It is about childhood, and the perspective of childhood from (would you believe it) a CHILD. Death is pretty final, and scary to children. Therefore going to school (or indeed simply growing up) is perceived as a 'death-like' experience - hence the coffins. Everything seems final when you are young.... a year seems like it will last forever (which is where the metaphor with death comes in). The theater scene is sinister, but also beautiful. Perhaps it deals with the reoccuring feeling of pressure when you are young (I presume especially at a boarding school), with everyone 'forcing' you to perform, and people watching you all the time. Uncertainly is another feeling I associate with childhood, as is the notion of never being able to see the complete picture, for example these girls must simply concern themselves with this lifestyle, doing their dancing and not going outside the grounds - much like a child at school - studying and learning all the time.... but for what? Evry child has though "Why do I need to learn French? We're not in France etc." at some point!
I do feel that the comment made from one of the audience in the theater is threatening, but it is simply a girls unpleasant introduction into the world of sex, and I personally feel that the introduction of the boy in the fountain to be a painful moment where you realise that everything is going to change, and due to the curiousity of the girls (who have been wondering about such things on some level their whole lives) it is unavoidable.
A beautiful film that has abosolutely nothing to do with "an elaborate grooming school for drug addicted high class prostitutes", and certainly nothing to do with paedophilia. It is instead a beautiful evocation of growing up, the misunderstandings of childhood, and through knowledge - the inevitable loss of innocence (hence the title).

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Thank you joe briscoe! Finally a person with another view on the content of this film! I couldn't explain it better myself. But I would like to add that everyone must have their own oppinions and that's what I like about movies like Innocence, you are free to interpret.

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No, the person being injected is clearly a grown woman. I'm baffled that so many seem to think it was one of the girls - you can clearly see it's a grown woman, there's no ambiguity in the scene.

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What is this obsession with peadophilia??

I dont see that there was anything remotely erotic about the film at all, and if you did well i guess that's your concern my friends,

think about it.......

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This post is the truest one on the board.

I wont argue that it's completely devoid of any eroticism. But if there is any, it's certainly not perverse like many claim. It's just natural, innocent, as experienced by adolescents. There is no adult intervention. So I don't understand this obsession either.

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i think the point of the theatre scene is that the girls are starting to be judged by the outside world as potential women for the first time, so it starts to matter which of them is the prettiest etc. thats as sinister as you want it to be.

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Though I posted previously at length, I must address the "eroticism" issue.

Was the film erotic? Was the "intent" of the film maker to make the girls erotic?

Yes, and no.

While the film does not intentionally use eroticism to titillate, you cannot discuss human beings growing into adulthood totally devoid of latent sexuality.

Little girls are sexual creatures, just read all the scientific studies about early childhood sexuality. Surely, as the child approaches puberty, it is a given.

The question is...not if the children occasionally show their erotic/sexual side (which obviously does happen in the film) but how the viewer responds to this fact of life. As viewers, we cannot help but to "see" and interpret based on our own preconceptions.
The film is more like a Rorschach test that we are given...

To deny ANY sexuality would be foolish. However, this is just another of the many things children deal with in life. The film does not belabor the point.

If anyone wants to believe that something more sinister is going on, then as before, I will direct you to Kincaid's books on "Child Loving" in western culture.

How unfortunate you will feel when you then realize that the problem rests with you, and the more as a society we try to suppress the true state of being of the child, the more we warp and endanger them!

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I feel inclined to add my two cents: as far as the whole prostitution thing, one can't ignore that ballerinas were commonly associated with prostitution, especially in 19th-century france (think of degas). my guess is that the director has to be at least aware that the audience might make that connection, even if she does not want to imply that the girls become prostitutes per se. she definitely creates that possibility through the references to dance and the parallels between the little girls in ballet costume and some of degas' work (at least in my opinion). there is also the sense that there are male patrons of the dancers/students (the man in the balcony), even while there are also females in the audience. the females certainly don't call out, "tu es la plus belle!"

I was really unsatisfied with the film at first, and still don't think it's outstanding, BUT, a friend who also saw it granted me this perspective, which helped me to gain an appreciation for it: the whole story is told from the POV of a small child, and the POV of the audience is limited to that of a small child. in childhood, one observes many curious things that are never explained (the girl getting the shot), and one has many questions that are never answered (what happened to the little girl who escaped). the POV is relentlessly loyal to the little girls, and I think that's what is ultimately so frustrating for adult viewers of the film. we want an omniscient narrator or POV to follow alice (I think it was alice-- the girl with the blue ribbon) after she escapes so we know what happens to her. but the teacher told us (the students) that we'll never see her again, and indeed we don't. we'd like to know why the girls arrive in coffins, but as the girls themselves don't know, neither shall the audience.

this analysis doesn't make the film any less frustrating to watch, but perhaps explains things a bit...? thoughts?

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The points made by mailemae on POV are most interesting, but why don't the girls have anything to say about their being put into coffins? Their lack of discussion on this isn't logical.

Picking up on automatic_duck's uneasy feelings of paedophilia, I felt after 5 minutes this was a film for paedophiles. But the film had been professionally described as a 'feminist film' and that 'it's ending confounds expectation' so I tried to think of other reasons for the content and the plot.

I am uneasy about the ages of the girls, for the older ones are not aged sufficiently. Thus at the ending the youth is far too old for the girl in the fountain.

Now we come to it. Why has the director arranged costume and scenes as she did? The scenes are not particularly arranged to suggest either purity or brothel-grooming, but rather they are optimised to shown extremely young girls in underwear, wet underwear and ballerina costume. I can't see a feminist theme here, though by heck, I tried. Have we been hoodwinked by this film? Is it a dubious film designed to slip easily past the censor's eye?


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following the butterfly metaphor, there might be an explanation for why the girls arrive in coffins... the coffin is the equivalent of an egg, since the little girls with the red ribbons, fresh out of their coffins, are being compared by their ballet teacher to caterpillars. the caterpillars emerge into a new world, only to be isolated from the outside again, inside this huge cocoon that is their school, and then they eventually morph into butterflies.
i guess the director manages to make the coffin, which doesnt usually hold too complicated symbolism, into very ambiguous imagery material, since in this movie the coffin becomes both beginning and ending (when iris' friend is incinerated)

and btw i totally agree with the earlier post, about the whole movie being made from a childs perspective. the shots of the insects and leaves and snails from the park do reveal childish curiosity and interest.

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This is an extremely important post, although I have to disagree that it is frustrating to watch. I also have to disagree with the people who say that the end isn't sufficient. I thought it was perfect.

Anyway. malemae's point about perspective, is one of the most relevant when talking about this film. Point of view is key to how you have to read it.

The little girl who witnesses most of the events is also called Iris. The iris is part of the eye. She is our eyes into some of this mysterious world perhaps.

I disagree with any idea of prostitution as well. Grooming for adulthood maybe but not prostitution. I think this view is a product of adult minds that haven't been innocent for a very long time and have forgotten that not everything has to have dark undertones. I agree that there are elements that suggest otherwise, but on the whole I think the film is about something far more general and universal than a weird girls school that grooms for a morbid and perverse purpose. To look at it like that is too limiting. It is more about how children view childhood and how this changes due to different events and simply growing older.

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I think that the film gives you what it says on the box... Innocence.

To me the school symbolises innocense. There are no men, only little girls who do nothing but play and laugh and swim and dance. The only adults are somehow crippled (either physically or emotionally in the case of the two teachers) or have the facelessness and lack of identity of the old (the "Mothers"). There is a clear path out of the school but there are no real authority figures to guide you... you just go with the flow and eventually you get there... if you don't follow the right path you're somehow forced to stay in the school for ever, like someone who's natural psychological development is somehow hampered.

The early shots of the girls swimming and playing have a real feel to them of giving the audience a sight into some hidden world where they're not really allowed and certainly don't belong. As an adult male I was very aware of the fact that I *shouldn't* be looking at a DVD full of little girls running around in their underwear and yet the film itself is almost completely sexless. The children run around with no fear of being preyed upon.

Occasionally a girl wants too much to leave the safety of the school and she is not allowed back and is never spoken of again. Once you leave a state of innocense you can't re-enter it and you will for ever be estranged from those still in the state.

For me the final third of the film is the most revealing. Once the girls reach a certain age they can be seen by people on the outside. People notice them and single them out. When Bianca leaves the school it coincides with her looking at a picture of a naked male statue and literallly putting on the gloves of someone from outside the school and touching herself. Almost as though she is trying on what it is to be touched by someone on the outside.

At the end the girls are guided out through tunnels known to other adult women and into the sunshine of a completely different world. The girls are faced with a fountain and initially sit by it, but Bianca is the first to dive in and play with a boy. The world of adullts and adult sexuallity beckons.

The reason why it's easy for us to feel that this is all about paedophiles is because we are adults, we know about sex and it infects us. When we see innocence we see only innocence in a sexual context, something that can be stripped away by the unwanted hands of the paedophile. But that is only one way that innocence can be lost. We look at the film and see children groomed for adult sexuality because that is what childhood is. From the second we are born we are are set on a path of developmment and learning that culminnates only with us attaining adulthood, reproducing and starting the cycle again with our own generation of children.

We look at this film and see grooming because ultimately growing up is about grooming children for sex and reporduction.

This film is superb, it gives you exactly what it says on the tin... innocence.

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Although I

The best for World Cinema - http://p219.ezboard.com/bforeignfilms.

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You've put that very well jmccalmont. However, back to the original post, it does seem obvious that somehow the girls are being used by men.

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Why would everyone always think it has to do about sexual things when there is just some girls in underpants? This movie is deffinately not meant for these people. But shows you exactly the way you think. Reflect on yourself and think about it, isn't that just a deep rooted thought. ;o)
Where does this thought come from, i don't get it, is it a stereotype thought.
The exact same reason movies like this are not being made, but the subject is great.
This movie is supurb, and this is a perfect way to show the innocence of girls exactly.
The nice thing is, what you think is expressed can be completely something else. So eventually you express your own personal feelings trought the movie.
I think this movie does not only show the preasuse instictive life of girls under girls, and also the individual differences between young people, when all raised in the same way. First they show freedom, and how free their life looks. And then they show how locked they are inside this garden.
Isn't that what life as a child is all about. Who will ever by their innocent instincs complain about playing.
Thats just an natural thing.
But is the stricked education?
What will eventually become of these girls, remember that they are back at a similar system with just new rules. When they disobey it's all their own insticts left. They learn to be obedient. But the once that leave are also the one who the younger have to listen to. What happens to them would be similar to girls without parents, you will never know. And there will be almost no difference their. Only that they have been used as objects for some lady looking for the best ballet dancers.
Just think about it how she would tread them, the girls who where old enough to go are way better of.
hehehe

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i compeltely agree with jmccalmont

thats it!

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I still don't understand why the girls were brought there though. It was obviously a secret school of some sort, I mean they arrive in coffins.
And something wierd seemed to be going on the whole time, like a man giving one of the girls a needle. What was he doing? We don't know, she could have been diabetic, being drugged, or just getting an ordinary shot.
But I understand why many people seem to think there is something going on, and I'm sure that the director intended the viewer to think so. People don't have to get mad at somebody for thinking this movie is about pedophiles, it can easily make one think so, and not just because of a scene with girls in their underwear. When I saw the film, it started, and I had no idea what it was about, the scene came where they were swimming and I suddenly wanted to be a kid again and just start swimming in the lake with them. It looked so fun, I had no idea what was going on yet in the film, but later when I saw the scene where the girl was getting the needle, I didn't know what to think, we don't know what happened

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It seems to me that these children were in another orphan house before and then put into a coffin so that other orphans assume she died, so that nobody would ask for her return. LIke they do in this house as well. When the girl is gone they do as if she is dead.
Also is shown that the girl Iris in the beginning is not afraid, as if this is not even new for her, all these strange girls. She just blends in easily. She also had a good education behind her because she speaks French, probably she is chosen by the same woman who uses them for her ballet school. Chosen on quality, to be sweet and innocent.
Also in the beginning you can clearly see the coffin be brought to this place, and that in the star figure are holes to let the girl breath, compared to the other coffin of the girl who drowned who is really dead.

And it could mean that that is where their real life begins and where it will end.

By the way It's not a girl who gets a needle in her arm, while seen by Iris. It's one of the older woman who are kept their for working. It just shows that they have contact with the outside world when someone needs medical attention. So if it is all kept a secret could remain in doubt there.
What Iris also sees for the very first time is in the picture, that there is 5 houses. So 5 groups of girls. So while she came to this place in a coffin, 4 other girls did as well.

So 5 special girls are choosen from other orphanage's every year to go to this place and then trained here in ballet for 7 years to eventually be chosen to become a ballet star. From these fully trained girls after a 7 year training only one out of five will become a ballet star. The others will go to a new orphanage, while their old orphanage assumes them dead.
That they are taken away from the other orphanage in a coffin only shows you that that place could be even more mysterious. Those naive orphans learning about death in that way.

The movie is not only about innocence but for me it seems that it also is completely innocent.
It just shows how strict Ballet schools can be, for only girls. Until they are ready for contact with boys they are kept here, to focus completely on Ballet.
They come here at age 5 and go at the age of 12 fully ripe for ballet or a normal orphan life.

It just shows you the viewer where did all this innocence go. You where an innocent child once. And look at your thought now, viewing a completely innocent movie.
Innocence becomes ignorance

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It's a French movie -- Iris and the rest of the girls speak French because that's their native language. I don't understand how that indicates a good education.

Also, to (possibly) refute a point you made at the beginning: Iris talks several times about her younger brother (and I believe her parents as well, but my memory is less clear on that one) -- so I would guess that she was taken from a home, not an orphanage. I suppose it could be an orphanage where both she and her brother lived, but my first instinct was to believe that she had been taken from a home, from her family.

I did, however, also get the impression at first that she was sent there by her parents, not stolen from them -- and that's clearly wrong. So I don't deign to say that all of my impressions are the right ones!! :)

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Is it? I don't see that at all. When one of the girls were being drugged, or at least injected, I was sure it was by one of the older women.

As for them arriving in coffins, to me that meant that they were already dead to the outside world for some reason. Perhaps their families were dead already?

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I've just watched the film and my first thoughts when it finished were "OMG I don't get it". But obviously I thought of all of the same things that other people have mentioned. Eg Why did they arrive in coffins, what happened to the girl who escaped, and what did they go on to do, but I believe the film is symbolic and a lot more simple than maybe I'm trying to make it.

Its obvious that the whole coffin thing is tied to the butterfly theory, and they are manipulated to be scared of the outside world because those older know that once they come into contact with it, their innocence will be lost. It shows an ever moving cycle of life, where we start off as they appear (all dressed in white to show purity) and gradually get glimpses of other aspects of life as we get older (thus bit by bit changing us and getting rid of that innocence). I did feel it had a slightly victorian approach to growing up, and the way they approached the subject of a girl reaching puberty and starting to menstruate was a bit scary if I'm honest. It did capture how confusing that time can be, and it did capture how out of the blue it all comes but it drifted for me. The whole film drifted with so many unanswered questions that it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Not because it was BAD as such, but if you get a handful of unanswered questions from a film you think about it, and the more you think about it the more theories you come up with, and the more you get from the film. But too many questions and it leaves big gaps and holes in the plot.

You could say that the girl who got in the boat to try to escape, was doing as some of us do in real life, and fumbling around trying to find answers and alternatives when things aren't as we like. Some of us take the wrong path and fate isn't kind. Some of us come to conclusions about life, have a life changing thought and take flight and feel set free (I wonder whether Alice climbed the wall, escaped and found freedom and happiness?)

But there are so many "What if..."'s that the holes are too gaping for me. I found it very slow (which probably was appropriate to the style of film), and at times I was stuck thinking more socialistic thoughts such as "Is French society so different to ours?".

I thought this because I commented to the person I was watching the film with, that in England a film such as this would probably never have got past the censorship commitees because of the nature of it and the way the children were portrayed. Innocent - YES, but one can't help think of the type of person who might get a kick from watching the film for the wrong reasons. And that in itself is indicative of the way the world is headed, because when someone sits there and thinks of that while watching this sort of film it makes it obvious that its a common worry.

I came up with many theories throughout the film and by the end I was just as unsure as when I'd started. There were comments about the girls looking after their legs and needing to know how to use them for their own good when they left school. There was the comment made by the man in the audience about the girl being the prettiest out of all of them. Something about that left a funny taste in my mouth. Something slightly creepy.

I'd like to believe that the film was purely about innocence and the wall was a metaphor for children being protected from outside influences when young. I'd like to think that the dancing was because it was pretty and showed how innocent they were, and I'd like to believe that the progression (the ribbons) for the girls was just to signify getting older. You see a child of around 5 or 6 waking up, and making friends and experiencing new things, and beginning to question things, and you see someone older crossing the boundary of puberty and leaving school and seeing a boy in the fountain (first glimpse of life as it may be for the rest of her life). Progression and growing up, loss of innocence etc. I'd like to think thats all its about but there are predatory undertones.

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I wanted to comment on the coffin idea. In my opinion, the coffin represents a sort of rebirth as mentioned before. I know I have memories of my childhood way before 6 years, but self-awareness seems to really take root around the age of 5 and 6 and at the age of 12 a new sort of physical awareness takes place. The coffin perhaps symbolizes the lack of self awareness as a baby and toddler. What happens to them at that time isn't as important to their growth in character as does the ages from 6-12. This is where they truly become little girls. Toddlers (boys and girls) tend to act somewhat similar (there are differences), but they seem to grow into their gender more so after these ages. It was as if they weren't alive till they came out of the coffins.

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I'd definately agree with this. Mme Edith is continually reiterating that a new cycle will begin. the theme is essentially cyclical and let us not forget that they are butterflies and yes, caterpilliar to butterfly is the metamorphosis, but it is the third stage in a butterfly's life, the first being the egg out of which the caterpillar hatches, drawing parallels with the coffin and if it is taking the somewhat existentialist point of view that were are dead until we are alive, it mimicks the symoblism of the butterfly completely.

to address the really sensationalist paedophilic issue, i think it's so ridiculous that our rampantly tabloid culture has the majority screaming child abuse whenever young girls are in proximity to older men. It is not just men that are shadowy in this film, it is the entire adult world, seen briefly and little understood by the children as it always is in life. until we have unwittingly shed all that we had as a child does adulthood really ever step from the shadows and reveal itself.

This is a beautiful universal methaphoric film about growing up, losing what you once held as precious but discovering a whole new world you were only vaguely aware of.

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granted not all cultures use coffins but this story was witten by a European man so they're a natural representation of death and i'm not saying that a coffin looks like an egg, it's a death/rebirth metaphor. The girls have ended their previous existance, being utterly removed from it, as in death, and are beginning a new one, rebirth. Hence the similarities. Moreover, coffins are conduits between life and whatever follows after, performing a transitory motif as in some sense is the egg between life and whatever came before.

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i would like to add that in my opinion it is about being a captive. all the butterfly-scenes suggest it. the girls are kept in cages, at the dubious school as well as on the outside, by the fountain. they just proceed from cage to cage.
and that's what speaks for it being a feminist film (with a rather pessimistic undertone though): women are 'bred' to become beautiful and to amuse 'the audience', they are meant for the 'stage'. later on they amuse men. they do so to reproduce. this is the activity they are limited to (in life as well as in film, in patriarchaic cultures).
what seems irritating to me is the last scene (which could have been left out i think): throughout the whole film the director makes us believe that the girls are kept away from boys for years. how come bianca reacts in such a natural, relaxed way when she sees the boy? i would have been in shock if i'd been kept away from male creatures for so long...!

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ok, 'shocked' was the wrong word. i dont know, i've expected a different behaviour. she was so calm and acted as though she knew more than she should have known - considering her isolated situation at that particular school (to me she almost seemed flirtatious). i dont know. the scene just seems misplaced and not fitting for me, because the action there doesn't add anything to the overall situation. it just stresses something which was clear anyway (that she would finally face a male creature).

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ok well personally i think pretty much everyone is looking too far into metaphorical explanations. i beleive the girls are brought to this school to be educated and prepared for the outside world. i really don't think theirs much more to it than that. the films title is obviously referring to the innocence they have, that will eventually be lost. the beauty and meaning in this film lies in the absolutely amazing cinematography.

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Yea I agree I think people are looking way to far into a metaphoric sense.

In short this film was *beep*

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The film give me the same feelings as many of you (I thing that was a tricky way to keep the audience attention), almost at the end (the subway) I thought this was a post-apocalyptical movie (you know, they are the choose ones to repopulate the earth) and then this just show up to be a “look what a think is the best way to educate children” movie.

And Yes, I think it is very Victorian, reactionary and wicked way to see this matter.

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at first i tought the movie was somewhat like the movie "the fine art of love".
Cause in this movie there were also childeren hidden in a forrest,
getting educated and isolated from boys.

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well, the story is just a pretext for a paedophilic fantasy, with all those young girls (children, actually) running and swimming in very short skirts and wet T-shirts and showing their white underwear again and again... and again. It remembered me the classical script of soft porn movies (or the hardcore ones, doesn't matter, really) where all the situations are just scenarios in order to display girls doing or showing 'stuff'. To discuss the meaning of the movie is, in that situation, completely pointless. Of course, recognize it openly (that you made an voyeuristic movie with children under 12 years old) it doesn't sound good (well, it's awful), so doesn't surprise me the director would deny any 'second intentions'. But she did it anyways. Obviously.

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wasn't the movie 'innocence' a play on the viewer's own innocence too?... I think that if you're seeing this as soft porn then you are taking things too literally.

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Así es Juanito, el tipo de arriba... Vaya pendejo... read his comments.

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I agree with many of what's been said here, but you also have to remember that symbolism cannot be accepted as the sole driving force behind a narrative. At least not in this case. There is a story being told that happens to have symbolic undertones, yes, but not having a literal meaning behind them would cheapen the script a great deal. Of course, it´s perfectly okay to make the literal meaning debatable.

With that said, I do believe that there´s something sinister going on. The fact that this story is told from a child´s POV further impies this, though I can't be certain about it. Children may be curious and adventurous, but their blatant innocence prevents most of them from picking up on certain signs. This is why the shady male figures in the audience were shady. Not because the viewer is supposed to think of them as "evil pedophiles", but rather because they didn't mean anything specific to the girls. If this movie was told from an adults POV, then everything would make perfect sense. To us, shadiness implies sinister/evil. To them, shadiness implies irrelevance. This provides the movie with some much needed balance. There might be something sinister going on (it seems that way), but we're unable to tell for sure because the children are unaware of the possible bigger scheme. In part because they are nurtured to develop themselves like that. So girls who have the balls (lame pun intended) to think for themselves and ask questions, are "disposed of". Whatever that means.

I'm probably not saying anything new here, but it's my way of saying "it could mean anything"

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I just watched this movie. I have to say it is very beautiful. I don't understand why so many people think this is related with paedophilia. It is just a tale about childhood from the child's point of view. I admit its atmosphere is quite sinister and expecting a kid to be happy in a place where rules look like rules from a prison is nonsense, but this has nothing to do with paedophilia. In fact, I have read a lot of those comments and from the start I was reading between lines to see where was the connection. The movie is full of symbolism. All French movies are like this. Unfortunatelly, when a movie is so open to different interpretations there are always people who find the meaning they have in mind, most of the times not the meaning the director gave it.

Nowadays lots of people (especially from US) are kinda paranoic when they see little kids in movies, magazines, internet, etc. They automatically think about paedophilia, children exploited, etc. People see the word "innocence" and say "Oh, you are being ironic, right? You mean lost innocence!" So if someone tells me "What a beautiful daugther you have!" I have to think automatically that person is a pedo and will hurt my kid.

Come on. Stop thinking that way and enjoy the life. Not everything in life is black.

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Just finished watching this on Film Four and here a few things that ran through my mind:


- It could have been about a world where reproduction had met a terrible disaster thus young girls are selected until the edge of puberty to perserve thier breeding quality.

- What we see is a vision of limbo,the coffins are from recently deceased children and they are awaiting judgement upon thier soles.

- A basic moving image expression upon the subject of innocence and how it is not only down to outside influences that it is broken down but equaly due to the self's mind through self-exploration and thirst for knowledge.


As the movie wound on there were signs that the film could have been about an extreme feminist utopia(see Mary Daily) and those outside the walls are men who are segregated.
At times it was possible to view this film as having pedophiliac under tones but the imagary and action of the girls and adults never seem to amount to anything more than innocent play or a curious mind.

The pedophile angle really is something that is attached to film so often because it is a ziegist of the last 10 to 15 years. Personaly history will not see this film with the same eyes as this current genration.

Innocence treats it's dark moments with a steely silence and keeps itself quiet about what the real horror of actions of certain girls could mean(the girl in the boat.the girl whom ran away).
To steal itself away from pain it lavishes' itself in play and imagination and hopes it's cast never learn to ask too many questions.

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