Monday, November 14, 2011

119 - The Crucible (1996)

DVD Box
In 1692 Salem, a young woman accuses her ex-lover's wife of witchery.

After being spotted performing pagan rituals in the woods, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) coerces Salem's other young ladies into persuading the elders that they were cooperating with the Devil.

Having been saved from the Devil's wicked ways, Abigail goes on a crusade accusing others of witchcraft claiming that she can see those, having been there herself.

Eventually, she focuses on her ex-lover's wife in order to try and win him for herself. The ex-lover, John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) must try everything he can to save his wife from the gallows.
Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Based on Arthur Miller's play of the same name, The Crucible already had one advantage over many of its contemporaries in having the great playwright also write the screenplay. This meant that from every step of its journey from play to film, Miller had it happen exactly in his vision.

Upon watching The Crucible it beggars belief that something even remotely similar to its plot actually happened in the Salem witch trials during this period. Miller, along with director Nicholas Hytner, perfectly capture the hysteria of this as innocent people are put into a catch-22 situation - either admit to conspiring with the Devil and have your name tainted, or denounce the link with the Devil and be hanged for heresy - for denouncing the Devil was equal to denouncing God.

Daniel Day-Lewis is on top form as the confused but resolute John Proctor. Proctor's infidelity adds a multi-dimensional view to the character that would otherwise be cast as a wooden hero. This character development is helped somewhat by Winona Ryder as she changes Abigail Williams from being a repressed young girl into a vindictive wolf-crier.

Also on top form is Paul Scofield as the conforming Judge Thomas Danforth. His confusion and unwillingness to see past the obvious reality helped the hysteria to carry on and Scofield displays this dark and occasionally ruthless character perfectly. A mention should also go to Rob Campbell whose character Reverand Hale keeps the vision of justice alive and provides some of the film's most impassioned pleas for sense.

Simply one of the best film's I've had the privilege to watch. Dark, mesmerising and full of emotion and passion.

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