Presence of Mind (1999) Script

Please, Papa, don't!

Please, Papa, no!

A little closer to him, miss.

Perhaps you could place your hand on his.



It's time to go, Alice.

Good day.

I'm here for the position of governess.

The next one is here.

Their parents were away onboard a ship, and there was a terrible accident.

The ship sank with all hands, and just like that, they were gone.

Both my brother and his wife, four years ago.

And suddenly I found myself in charge of two young orphans.

I do have great affection for them, but I am, after all, a bachelor.

And to be honest with you?

These poor young things weight heavily on my hands.

They need more than a distant uncle.

In fact, they need someone who will devote herself to them, heart and soul.

Until recently, they were raised by an excellent governess, Miss Jessel, but just as I had everything running smoothly, the woman took ill and died.

It was terrible for the children.

Do you like to travel?

Oh, yes, indeed, sir.

I would be delighted to take the children anywhere that you would suggest.

I'm afraid you don't understand.

You will have to travel to them, they're on an island.

At Raja, a family estate acquired by my grandfather.

He was set on owning land in a catholic country.

You are catholic?

Yes, sir, I am.

That would've mattered to my brother.

The notion of redemption through suffering, fascinates me.

Though, I myself haven't the conviction.

I do, however, admire your strength of faith.

Thank you, sir.

Well, should I give you this position, you would have to promise to take complete responsibility.

Never to trouble me with any matters concerning the children.

Whatever arises, you must handle it alone.

I know this position would be your first,

and yet, when I look in your eyes, I believe you would sacrifice whatever is necessary,

for the good of my niece and nephew.

You can give them something I cannot.


I want that more than anything, sir.

Do I have your word?

I shall keep the children happy and well, as I would my very own.

The first sacrifice was not so hard.

I would like you to have this, as a token of my gratitude, and for my faith in you.


I do not know what to say.

Allow me, please.

St. Christopher, the protector of the Christ child.

To save oneself by saving innocents.

How fitting.

I need you.

To help me.

I promise.

I promise, I shall not disappoint you.

St. Christopher.

The protector of the Christ child.

To save oneself by saving innocents.

How fitting.



I'd like to walk from here.

You must be the housekeeper.

I am...

We were expecting you days ago.

Welcome to Raja.

Thank you.

I'm so sorry I'm late, but rough seas delayed us.

I thought we'd never make it to port.

I'm glad you arrived safely.

I'm the housekeeper, Mado Remei.

I'm pleased to meet you.

Please, come in.

It must keep you frightfully busy.


That belongs to my little confit.


Your new governess is here!

How do you do, Flora?

Say hello.


This must be yours.

You must be weary from your journey.

I must admit, I am a little.

I'll take you to your room.

I had Flora choose it for you.

I'm sure it will be lovely.

I hope everything was to your liking.

Yes, it's all far grander than I'm used to.

The entire house I grew up in could fit into this very room.

This room is only for special occasions.

But this is a special occasion, my little confit.

Not without him, it isn't.

You hear that, Flora?

That means it's time for you to get ready for bed.

Yes, Mado Remei.

Your new governess will come up very soon to tuck you in.

Why don't you wait for me, and we can say our prayers together?

She's such an enchanting girl.

But she seems so sad.

She's just missing her brother.

Was she close to my predecessor, the one who died?

Very close.

What was she like?

Miss Jessel?

She was very young.

Some would say pretty.

He seems to prefer them that way.

This letter came for you.

From the Master.

To the governess at Raja.

Please find enclosed a letter from my nephew's headmaster.

Do not bother to consult me.

The children are under your care now.

Young Miles has been dismissed from school.



Well, what has he done?

It doesn't say.

Only that it is impossible to keep him any longer.

That the child is undesirable and an injury to the others.

How could they be so cruel as to write something like that?

It is hard to believe.

I suppose I should write to the headmaster.

Nonsense, miss.

Wait till you meet him.

But he must have done something.

Something to contaminate the others.




He's only a child.

Are you afraid he might corrupt you, miss?

If you'll excuse me, I must see to Flora.



She's my new governess, but she's not as pretty as you.

Good morning, Flora.

I've just arrived here in this big, big house, and I keep getting lost.

Do you know anyone who could help me find my way?

What about your friend?

She can't hear you, she's dead.

Well, that's a pity.

You'll need somebody to take her place.

I've had her since I was your age, but I think she wants to be yours.

Thank you.

What's that?


Would you like to show me the house?

She's dying of curiosity.

There's so much to see, where should we start?

Well, why don't you start by showing me your favorite place?

All right.

Follow me.

This is the music room.

You can see the whole garden from here.

Here is the desk, it could be your desk!

And that is the blackboard.

We used to have class here.

The wind makes it Miles calls it the Rajan Nocturne in E-flat.

I wish Miles were here.

This is my collection of shells.

What is this room, Flora?

It's Uncle's.

It's always locked.

But I know where Mado Remei keeps the key.

Do you like secrets?

Well, yes, I suppose so.


I'll show you.

Come on, come on!

Come on!

Isn't it beautiful?

I come here to bury my secrets.

You're not going to leave, are you?

What makes you ask that?

You had a bad night, I could hear you moving about.

I thought maybe you didn't like it here.

No, I love it here.

It was nothing, just too much excitement for one who's never been abroad before.

Perhaps I should move my bed into your room.

Would you like that?

That way, I could watch over you at night, and make sure you aren't frightened.

The house can be quite scary when it creaks.

I think that's a good idea.

I know who gave you this.

Do you?


I can keep a secret, too.

I win.

To bed.

Look what's in my magic box.

Does it have a name?

Ophelia, Miles gave her to me.

I can't wait for you to meet him.

You'll like Miles, he's clever.

And as good as you are, I'm sure.

I'm afraid we can be a bit naughty at times.

Perhaps now that you're here he won't have to go away again.

I hope not.

Please don't tell Mado Remei I'm taking her to bed with me.

She doesn't allow it.

Well, maybe just for tonight.

Now, Flora, it's time to say your prayers.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.


Flora, what, what's wrong with her?

Miles broke her wing so she would fly away.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.



All week, I've had butterflies in my stomach, just waiting to see you.

Look, your trousers are too short!

This is our new governess!

Hello, Miles.

I'm very pleased to meet you.

The pleasure is mine.

You're even more lovely than I imagined.

Mado Remei!

One, two, three, four.

Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

11, 12.

13, 14.

15, 16.

17, 18.

19, and 20!

Am I disturbing you?

No, not at all.

Where's Flora?

Trying to hide from me.

Well, don't keep the lady waiting.

I'm not so fond of that game anymore.

Did you have a good time at school?

I'm happier to be back at Raja.

Why? Were you not happy?

Did you like the other boys?

Most of them.

But you can't like everybody, can you?


Though, one must try.

And what about the masters?

It must be nice out in the garden now.

It's far too dark to be pleasant.

I like it this way.

Are you afraid of the dark?



I suppose there isn't anything to be afraid of.

But you seem to be.

Even though everything's the same by night, as it is by day.

You'll see.

Trust me.

Outside, there is the garden.

With fountains along the stairs guarded by stone lions.

The lake is beyond.

And the trees where all the birds have gone to sleep.

And the crickets will soon be awake.

And past the woods, there is the sea.

And with your eyes still closed, other things seem to be awakening.

Don't they?

Then I light a lamp, and here we are.

Just as we were.

You see?

Your fears are all in what you think might happen.

Most of the time, nothing does.

Simple as that.

You have a remarkable mind, for such a young man.

Do I?


Yes, my dear?


Come on, Miles, I've been waiting forever!

Go on, play with your sister.


I'm glad my uncle chose you.

I'll catch you, you little monster!

Miles, slow down!

They bring life into this house.

He is the most astonishing boy I've ever met.

I can see why the school masters wouldn't understand him.

He's very special.

What about that terrible letter from school?

It must have been a misunderstanding.

Anyway, I'll hear his side before I judge.

What will you say to his uncle?

Not a word.

He expects me to deal with it, and that is what I have done.

We shall see things out together.

We shall see things out together.

♪ Ring-a-ring o' roses ♪

♪ A pocket full of posies ♪

♪ Ring-a-ring o' roses ♪

♪ A pocket full of posies ♪

"It would be as charming as a charming story,"

"suddenly to meet someone."

"Someone would appear there at the turn of a path,"

"and would stand before me and smile and approve."

"I didn't ask more than that."

"I only asked that he should know,"

"and the only way to be sure he knew, would be to see it,"

"and the kind of light of it in his handsome face."

Don't be afraid.

He likes you.

Look over there!

"I only ask that he should know,"

"and the only way be sure he knew, would be to see it,"

"and the kind of light of it in his handsome face."

There is a letter for you, miss.

Thank you.

The Master's coming to visit.


The 27th.

Oh, my goodness, that's in two days.

He says that he's looking forward to spending some time with the children, and seeing how we're all getting on.

You do look very pleased, miss.

I just hope that he'll be satisfied with me.

I'm sure he will be, the children have never been happier.

Well, I must have the maids ready his room.

You go and get the maids, and I shall air the room.

Yes, miss.

Where is he?

You like him, don't you?

Don't you? Please, I'm a dove!

I didn't do it, I didn't do it!

There he is!

I see the carriage!

He's coming, Uncle's coming!

Yes, he's coming!

Yes. Uncle's coming!

He's coming, he's coming, he's coming!

He's coming, he's coming!

He's coming!

Uncle's coming!

Is everything ready?

Yes, miss.

The tea is set in the drawing room, for you and the Master.

Just as you asked.


Uncle! Uncle!

Uncle! Uncle!

Uncle! Uncle!

What does this mean?

Where is he?

Cameo says he is not coming.

There is only that which you have in your hand.

I knew he wouldn't.

He's always too busy.

"Please find enclosed, a package,"

"left at my office to be forwarded to you."

"As for me, an unexpected trip to Morocco"

"makes it impossible for me to visit."

"Please give my love to the children,"

"and my regards to Mado Remei."

"Tell them I shall do my best to be there for Christmas."


I don't suppose my uncle cares much about Flora, or me.

You mustn't believe that.

Your uncle has important responsibilities.

More important than wasting time on us?

No, Miles.

I understand.

But it's sad, you know, when people don't have time for you.

I have time.

I feel quite the master of the house, being here like this, with you.

And I, the mistress.

Would you like a cup of tea?

Yes, that would be nice, but I think this tea's cold now.

Then I'll get one of the maids to make us a fresh pot.

What happened, miss?

What's the matter?

You're as white as a sheet.

I have just seen a strange man, staring at me through the window, as if looking for someone.

What did he look like?

He was tall, with long dark hair.

And cold, vicious eyes.


I've seen him before, there's a picture of him with the Master in the Master's study.

It cannot be.

You know him?


Who's Fosc?

He was the Master's valet, when the Master was here.

And a caretaker in charge, when he was not.


Yes, then that was him.

And I saw him the other day, walking in the garden.

You couldn't have, miss.

Fosc is dead.



He is dead.

Oh, a picture.

May I see it?

You're supposed to be asleep.

Who is that?

My papa.

Where is he now?

He's dead, Flora.

Don't feel sad.

Miles says the dead only truly die when you forget about them.


To watch over your dreams.

What happens after you die?

Now, Miles, you know the answer to that question.

I know that if I'm good, God will take my soul to heaven, and that if I'm bad, he'll send me to hell to burn forever.

But what if he decides to resurrect me, and leave me here, to walk around?

Isn't that what happens to some people?

What do you mean?

I mean like Lazarus.

Why did God resurrect him instead of taking him to heaven?

He was a good man, wasn't he?

Was Lazarus a ghost?

There's no such thing as ghosts, Flora.

Yes, there is.

What makes you say that?

Because I've see... It says so in the Bible.

"Father, son and Holy Ghost."

Yes, but in that case, "ghost" means spirit.

Then why doesn't it say spirit?

Because sometimes, things have more than one meaning.


"One, the spirit or soul."

"Two, or haunting memory."

"And three, the supposed spirit of a dead person,"

"appearing to the living as a shadowy apparition."

If ghosts don't exist, then why are they in the lexicon?

Hail Mary, full of grace. Hail Mary, full of grace.


I didn't imagine him.


The man at the window.

I cannot put the sight of him from my mind.

You shouldn't do this to yourself, miss.

What kind of a man was Fosc?

He was a callous man.

A man of violence and vice.

I wasn't the only one who detested him.

The maids, coachmen.

Even the villagers.

The children have never mentioned him.

Nor should you, miss.

It was Miles who found him dead,

at the bottom of the garden staircase, with a broken neck.

A drunken fall, I'm sure.

Poor Miles was beside himself with grief.

He worshiped the man.

My Miles, with that man?

Who could blame him?

A lonely boy with nothing but a distant uncle.

Fosc took advantage.

Made me sick to see Miles following after him like a shadow.

Did you not say something?

Have you never been afraid, miss?

Fosc was a powerful man.

And what of Miss Jessel?

The children were under her care.

Did she not do anything?

Miss Jessel was just as bad as he was.

What are you saying?

Fosc would come to her at night.

In the next room were the two children.

In the very next room.

There were many mornings that I had to tend her.

The man brutalized her.

He will no longer prey on anyone.

God forgive me.

And I am glad he is dead.

You killed her! It was an accident!

Miles, Miles!

Don't you ever lay your hands on her!

You do not hit your sister!

She's a liar!


I won't!

Then you'll go to bed without any supper!

Maybe you just want me to be bad!

♪ All the lights are out ♪

♪ Everyone is sleeping ♪

♪ Through the town a stranger ♪

♪ Is very softly creeping ♪

♪ Past the darkened tavern ♪

♪ Past some children sleeping ♪ Flora.


Come, my darling.

Come, my darling.

Come to me, come to me.

Flora, stop!

She's gone.

Who's gone?


Didn't you see her?

The woman.

What woman?

Goodness, miss.

What are you doing here in the dark?

I saw the other one.

"The other one?"

A woman, dressed in black, watching Flora.

Miss Jessel.

That's impossible, miss.

I tell you, I saw her in broad daylight.

Luring Flora toward the water.

Did Flora see her, too?


But she pretended not to.

Why would she lie to you, miss?

Because she keeps many secrets with her old governess.

"Keeps secrets?"

You said the children were close to Fosc and that woman.

What kind of a hold did they have on them?

They are good children, miss.

I must know what went on in this house.

What did the children see?

I do not know what they saw.

They were always closing doors on me, whispering together.

One day, I saw the four them go into that very room.

For hours.

And it was not the sounds of the piano I heard.


After that, Miss Jessel held the girl very close to her.

While the boy had gone to the tower with Fosc.

And you let this go on?

Did not go on for long.

Fosc was soon dead.

And what became of the governess?

With him gone, she began to waste away.

You would've thought she would be happy to be rid of him, but she was consumed with the blackest grief.

She couldn't eat or sleep.

When the fever got her...

There was no help to be found.

The people on the island shun the sick.

Especially her kind.

They are still here.

Both of them.

The dead are dead, miss.

There is nothing they can do to harm the living anymore.

Yes, come in.

Do you want to come out and play, Miles?

I thought I was being punished?


But your punishment has gone on long enough.

Sorry I didn't apologize to Flora.

Sometimes, I get so angry, I don't know what to do with it all.

It's a beautiful day, Miles.

Why don't you go and play with your sister?



Tea is ready!

Coming! Coming!

It was Miles who found him dead, at the bottom of the garden stairs, with a broken neck.

Do you remember your old governess?

What was she like?

She was pretty.

She had beautiful blue eyes and a funny smile.

She liked music.

She used to tell me the stories.

What kind of stories?

Her favorite was about Flora Bella, a little girl who suffered terribly, but finally, a young prince came and carried her off to live in the land of the pink sky.

When was the last time you saw Miss Jessel?

Where was it, darling?

At my secret place.

She was crying.

She promised she'd never leave me.

That she'd always protect me.

Mado Remei didn't like her, though.

What makes you say that?

I think she was jealous of her.

Promise you won't ever leave.

I promise.

I promise.

Never, ever.

You naughty, bad thing.

You promised you wouldn't leave me.

Flora, what are you doing out of bed?

There's someone outside.

I think it's Miles.



Aren't you going to say anything?

What do you expect me to say?

I thought you would like my joke.

I suppose it wasn't funny.

No, it wasn't.

Whatever possessed you?

I don't know if you'd understand.

Believe me, Miles, I am trying.

I did it to show you I can be bad, if you want me to.

Why would I want you to be bad?

I thought you were bored with me.

Maybe you wanted me to be more grown up.

You know, do something really wicked.

It was only a game.

Even Flora thought it would be funny.

I never meant to upset you.

Are you still angry with me?

No, Miles.

But there's something you're not telling me.

Something that makes you do these things.

But I did tell you.

Not everything.

And I'm becoming terribly concerned.

You needn't be.

Now, may I say something?

I like your hair down.

You're far too pretty to be a governess.

Sometimes I wonder what you're thinking when you look at me.

Go to bed, Miles.

Look at them.

Look how sweet they look.

I wonder what they're saying to one another.

Just children's prattle, miss.

Children's prattle, indeed.

I know it's difficult for you to think ill of these children but if you'd seen what they put me through last night, it was cruel.

All their charm and their natural goodness, is just a sick game to deceive us.

Deceive us about what, miss?

About Fosc and Miss Jessel and the games they play.

The more I learn about what has happened to those children, the less certain I feel that I am right person for them.

Then perhaps you should inform the Master?

And what would I say to him?

That his house is infested with evil spirits?

I don't know what to think anymore.

Please, God.

Help me find a way to protect these children.

It is obvious, children, that this deceit can go on no longer.

We all know that you're aware of their presence.

So, I want you to both stop pretending.

Your secrets are safe with me.

You know that.

So, I want you to tell me what you do when you're alone with them.

What do they say to you?

What do they say to you?

What do they say to you?

What do you think you're doing?

We're playing dressing up, would you like to...

Out of here, now, both of you!

You're hurting me!

Let go of her!

Why are you always spoiling everything?

We were only playing!

This is not play!

You're just afraid, afraid of being judged!


Come along now, it's time to go to confession.

I really don't see the point of it.

Because it'll do you good.

Why don't you go and just let me stay here?


I'm sorry I struck you.

I'm quite tired of it all.

Can't you see that we don't want you here?

None of us do.

Who do you mean?

Who do you think I mean?

I intend to write to my uncle and let him know what a miserable failure you've been.

Miles, I'm only trying to help you.

Listen to me.

I don't need your help!

Everything was fine, until you came.

We're going to be late for mass!

You don't belong here.

Let's go.

She's not coming.

She mustn't know, it's a secret.

She knows, she knows about them!

She saw them.

She know about them!

She saw them.

Get out of here, you miserable wretch!

Do you hear me?

I said, get out!

They're mine!

They're all mine!

Mine to keep.

Mine to reckon with.

What happened to you?

Why didn't you come with us?

She hanged herself in this room, didn't she?

And you didn't tell me.

It was not necessary for you to know.

You have allowed vile things to go on in this house for far too long.

And I realize now that I have been charged with a service that is both admirable and difficult.

I am convinced that the children are possessed by some evil spirit.

And it is our duty to protect them.

We must never, ever let them out of our sight.

Do you understand?

I do not.

Then you'll do as I say!


You're so jumpy, my dear.

Are you ill?

I'm merely tired, I haven't slept well lately.

Yes, I know.

Do you?

Flora says you toss about and make noises in your sleep.

But, of course, you can't always believe Flora.

She invents things.

I don't like being angry with you.

I'd rather we be happy together, you and I.

Then why did you say such hurtful things to me?

Because you were smothering me.

I told you not to let her out of your sight!

One second, then she was gone.

I know where she went, now, come on.


See, there she is.


What are you doing here?

I told you.

I come here to bury my secrets.

No more secrets, Flora.

Tell me where she is.

Who is?

Tell me, my pet.

Where's Miss Jessel?

Miss Jessel? Yes.


See, there she is!

Out on the water!

I see nothing.

Open your eyes, for god's sake, woman!

Don't you see her?

Come on!

Let go of me, I do not!

There's nobody there.

How dare you say that, when she's right there in front of you!

Look at her!

She knows you're there and you're lying to me!

You little...

Get her away from me, she's evil!

Cruel and evil!

You filthy slut, I never want to see you again!

Go away, I hate you!

I hate you!

My uncle should do something.

Perhaps you could write to him.

What makes you believe he'd do anything?

Has he ever helped before?

You must stop worrying and try to rest.

I'm here.

I'll take care of you.

Is she any better?


She has taken a fever.

And is she still angry with me?

She never wants to see you again.

Never have I heard such obscenities from the mouth of a child.

And all about you.

And do you still believe that there was no one there at the rocks?

I saw no one myself, just you, screaming at her!

You, pushing her toward the water.

She was a happy child, until you forced her into facing these things.

Face what?

Say it!

That bad memory.

It was a heartless thing to do to a child, just to satisfy yourself.

If there is evil here, it is not Flora!

I am only trying to help her!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must see her.

She is in no condition to see you.

She has to admit what is happening to her!

You must not see her.

Mado Remei, may I remind you, that the Master put me in sole charge?

I am the governess!

Give me the keys!

Get out of here!

Help me!

We'll take Flora to the doctor, immediately.

And what about Miles?

Miles will stay with me.

He came to me last night for my help, and I intend to give it to him.

I will not leave him.

You will take Flora, or you will be dismissed.

The Master will hear of this.

Mado Remei?

Tell Flora I'll be waiting for her.

Our Father, who art in heaven.

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us, not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

I got your invitation.

You look lovely, my dear.

Thank you, Miles.

Mado Remei and Flora left so suddenly.

I couldn't even say goodbye.

Is my sister very ill?

She would be, if she'd stayed.

She'll be fine.

Now we have the whole house to ourselves.

I feel very grown up.


Now we can talk together like adults.

What are you thinking, Miles?

I'm wondering what it will be like with just the two of us here.

There are still the others.

What do you mean?

Is there something troubling you, Miles?


But I think there's something troubling you.

You're always so tense.

I know what you suffered.

I know how it feels.

How painful it is.

And whatever you may have done, Miles, I know it isn't your fault.

If you'd only trust me, I could help you.

And Miles...

If you'd allow yourself to speak of them,

they won't be able to harm you anymore.

And they'd go away.

Why are you always trying to worm things out of me?

I haven't done anything!

Then why were you expelled from school?

Tell me!

'Cause the boys didn't like me!


What did you do to them?

I didn't do anything, they were only games!

What games?

I don't remember!

You do remember, who told you those horrible things?

Who did it to you?

I don't remember, I don't remember!

Must I tell you?

Must I tell you who it was who did those horrible things to you, Miles?

Shall I say his name? Stop it!

Miles, say his name!

You don't fool me!

I've seen how you look at me and follow me everywhere I go!

Never letting me alone!

I know why you frightened Flora half to death!

Because you're dead afraid of ending up like the other one!

You're just like her, a sick-minded bitch!

A dirty whore!




Miles, it's not safe!

He's there, Miles, don't go to him.

Please don't hurt me.

Please don't hurt me.

I'm not gonna hurt you.

I love you, more than anything.

Forgive me.

Forgive me.

Oh, hush.

Hush, my darling.

It isn't your fault.

Those words, they weren't yours.

They were his.


He's here.

I know you can see him.

I know you can.

If you just say his name, he'll go away, Miles.

If you say it, say his name, Miles, then he won't be able to harm you.

He's dead.

He's dead!

No, Miles, he's come to get you!


Say his name.

Say his name!

He's dead!

No, Miles! He's dead!

He's come for you! He's dead!

Say his name!

He's dead, he's dead!


Say his name!


He's gone.

He's gone, Miles.

I'm here.

I'm here, my baby.




Wake up!

Don't leave me.

I'll be with you forever.

We'll be together.


I'll be with you forever.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who suffered terribly.

But finally, a young prince came and carried her off, to live in the land of the pink sky.