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The Crucible 1996


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(64) IMDb 6.8/10
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Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. Perched on the edge of a continent is a community dedicated to the service of God. A gang of teenage girls, stifled by the crushing piety of their elders, dance naked in the woods. One girl, Abigail Williams -- her innocence lost in the bed of John Proctor, a married farmer -- drinks a charm to kill his wife. And suddenly, the Devil is loose in Salem. The girls are discovered and, spurred on by their terrified accusations, the entire village is consumed by cries of witchcraft. One by one, the blameless victims of mass hysteria are torn from their homes until, inexorably, Abigail''s vengeance is turned on Proctor''s wife.

Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis
Rental Formats:

Product Details

  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 58 minutes
Starring Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen, Paul Scofield
Director Nicholas Hytner
Genres Drama
Rental release 16 April 2004
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Dec. 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This film, based upon the Arthur Miller play of the same name, is excellent. Miller himself wrote the screenplay for it, so it is no wonder that the story told by the film is relatively faithful to the play. Coupled with the capable direction of Nicholas Hynter, as well as a stellar cast, the play successfully makes the transition from stage to celluloid.
The movie recounts a fictionalized version of the famous Salem, Massachusetts witch trials of 1692, which saw quite a number of of the town's citizens executed for witchcraft. Winona Ryder is excellent as Abigail Williams, the poor relation of the town's craven minister, well played by Bruce Davison.
Dancing with other young women around a camp fire in the woods one evening, Abigail is surprised by the intrusion of the minister into their festivities. He is just as surprised as they are. The young women are in terror of having been caught doing something forbidden to them, and the games begin.
"The devil made me do it!" becomes the rallying cry of the day, as the young women begin pointing the finger at those townsfolk who in some measure have come under their unfavorable scrutiny. Beginning with Tituba, the slave, who is the first to fall, the circle of those accused widens under the careful leadership of Abigail.
She ultimately sets her sights on Elizabeth Proctor, the prim wife of John Proctor, played with icy calm by Joan Allen. Elizabeth is the woman for whom Abigail had previously worked and from whose employ she had been dismissed, as Mrs. Proctor had rightly suspected her of having an affair with her husband, John.
Abigail still lusts mightily for John, who has spurned her subsequent overtures and advances.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 18 Jun. 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 July 2004
Format: DVD
Although the playwright Arthur Miller was also the screenwriter for this production starring Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis, the film bears little resemblance to the play in tone and impact. Director Nicholas Hytner has abandoned the intimate, almost claustrophobic atmosphere of the dark, interior scenes in the play, in favor of an expansive setting, with many scenes set outside, including panoramic shots of Salem in 1692, full of costumed "citizens." The expanded setting makes the psychology and motivation of the witchcraft hysteria more difficult to determine, since the intensity of the settlers' repressed, interior lives is not obvious. In addition, the explanatory notes which Miller incorporates into the play about the various land disputes, religious controversies, and personal animosities, which led to specific individuals being accused and arrested for witchcraft, are seen only peripherally.
As a result, we see Winona Ryder, as Abigail Williams, and her coterie of bewitched girls, screaming hysterically and accusing innocent women of witchcraft without the necessary background which would make these accusations plausible. Her previous relationship with John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), in the absence of other motivations, seems to be the primary reason for her behavior, but this thwarted love does not explain the extent of her rage or the involvement of the other girls. Day-Lewis is reduced to the role of victim, and one of the hallmarks of his acting, his subtlety, is absent here. Some details of the scenery also ring false.
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