In Puritan Boston, seamstress Hester Prynne is punished for playing on the Sabbath day; but kindly minister Arthur Dimmesdale takes pity on her. The two fall in love, but their relationship cannot be: Hester is already married to Roger Prynne, a physician who has been missing seven years. Dimmesdale has to go away to England; when he returns, he finds Hester pregnant with their child, and the focus of the town's censure. In a humiliating public ceremony, she is forced to don the scarlet letter A - for adultery - and wear it the rest of her life. Dimmesdale is encouraged by the church fathers to demand of Hester the person with whom she sinned. Written by
Gary Dickerson <email@example.com>
Anyone who considers silent film-making inferior to sound film-making needs to watch this film.
I watched this 1926 silent version and the 1934 sound version back to back, projected in a theater. The 1926 version was not only a more artfully shot film, but the depth of the characters and their relationships were immeasurably better. The story structure and additional focus on the developing relationship between Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale created enormous empathy, and the introduction of Roger Chillingworth was absolutely haunting and palpable. The 1934 sound version was deflated and unemotional by comparison. The 1926 film is very well cast, solidly structured, skillfully directed, and beautifully shot. The film's final scene will leave one almost breathless and wondering what will happen next in the lives of these settlers. It perfectly wraps this must see example of masterful storytelling. Anyone who considers silent film-making inferior to sound film-making needs to watch this film. You may be enlightened.
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