The Crucible [VHS] 
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In Salem, Massachusetts, 1692, accusations of witchcraft are rife. John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) are innocent of any such charges, although John has committed adultery with their former serving girl, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder). When witch expert John Hale is called in to investigate the reports of witchcraft, Abigail attempts to implicate Elizabeth, thinking that she will then be able to resume her affair with John. Arthur Miller's play was originally written as an allegory for the Joseph McCarthy American 'witch-hunt' trials of the 1950s.
The Salem witch hunts are given a new and nasty perspective when a vengeful teenage girl uses superstition and repression to her advantage, creating a killing machine that becomes a force unto itself. Pulsating with seductive energy, this provocative drama is as visually arresting as it is intellectually engrossing. Arthur Miller based his classic 1953 play on the actual Salem witch trials of 1692, creating what has since become a durable fixture of school drama courses. It may look like a historical drama but Miller also meant the work as a parable for the misery created by the McCarthy anti-Communist hearings of the 1950s. This searing version of his drama delves into matters of conscience with concise accuracy and emotional honesty. Three passionate cheers for Miller, director Nicholas Hytner and costars Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. --Rochelle O'Gorman
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Helped my daughter with her GCSE Exams - good for visual learnersPublished 2 months ago by sweet_chilli
This is a terrific film, if a bit harrowing. Nice to see that the screen play was written by the author of the play, so nothing has been misinterpreted.Published 5 months ago by Louise Armstrong