The Crucible is considerably simplified from the play. Despite Arthur Miller handling the adaptation himself, so much of the historical detail and motivation for the witchhunts is dropped to get the narrative moving faster that at the end of the day the whole thing seems to have been reduced to a simple case of a woman spurned and a bad case of mass hysteria. Some awkward performances in the first half don't help either - Bruce Davison is shrilly ineffective, Daniel Day Lewis still seems to be doing Hawkeye, Joan Allen does her serious face again and the jury's still out on whether Winona Ryder is giving a convincing performance as an unconvincing liar or and unconvincing performance as a convincing liar. Yet the strength of the material shines through and suddenly, by the halfway point, you suddenly realise that you are completely gripped by it and that most of the performances have improved immeasurably once Paul Scofield has arrived to up the ante. Indeed, by the end the piece is genuinely tragic and moving (that said, I still maintain that the real hero of the piece is not John Proctor but Pastor Hale - the only character to realise his terrible error and to have the courage to publicly try to remedy it, however hopelessly). Excellent supporting performances from Karron Graves and, surprisingly, George Gaynes, although the houses seem a little too large for Puritan stock. Definitely a film of two halves, but worth seeing for the sheer power of the latter half.
No extras of any kind on the UK disc (unlike the US disc, which features commentary by the director and Miller as well as a brief interview with Miller), but it does at least boast a decent 1.85:1 widescreen transfer.