The Scarlet Letter (1979)

TV Mini-Series  -   -  Drama
5.8
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In the 17th century Massachusetts, a married women, whose husband is missing, has a child with the local pastor. The puritanical residents of her town condemn her to carry the Scarlet Letter of shame. Then the husband shows up.

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Title: The Scarlet Letter (1979– )

The Scarlet Letter (1979– ) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
...
 Nathaniel Hawthorne (unknown episodes)
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Storyline

In the 17th century Massachusetts, a married women, whose husband is missing, has a child with the local pastor. The puritanical residents of her town condemn her to carry the Scarlet Letter of shame. Then the husband shows up.

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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

2 April 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der scharlachrote Buchstabe  »

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Runtime:

(4 episodes)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The filmmakers' decision to outfit Hester Prynne with a gold letter "A" was sharply criticized at the time of the mini-series' premiere on P.B.S. as author Nathaniel Hawthorne was quite specific about the "scarlet letter" being red-colored. In the novel, the adjective "scarlet" wasn't only used in the symbolic sense (scarlet meaning "grossly and glaringly offensive" in the sense of "sinning in flagrant and scarlet fashion" [deriving from the use of the word in Isaiah 1:18 & Revelation 17:1-6], thus being associated with sexual immorality); the letter sewn onto Hester Prynne's clothing in the novel actually was colored scarlet, albeit it was sewn to her clothing with gold thread. In the words of Hawthorne, "...[W]ith all the townspeople assembled and levelling their stern regards at Hester Prynne, - yes, at herself, - who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, an infant on her arm, and the letter A, in scarlet, fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom!" (Chapter Two). See more »

Connections

Version of The Scarlet Letter (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Literate adaptation trumps skimpy production values
27 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I found this to be a most compelling adaptation of Hawthorne's book, with a literate script and good performances by the leads (Meg Foster, Kevin Conway, and John Heard) and many of the supporting players (Penelope Allen, Caroline Cava, and Josef Sommer). The primitive set design and costuming was an attempt to recreate the Salem of the period, and it appears fairly authentic, if my research of the period is any measure of accuracy. The fine music score by John Morris ("Young Frankenstein," "The Elephant Man") aids in creating the proper tragic, somber atmosphere of this classic story.

On the negative side, the momentum sags in Part 3, the use of videotape over film (which the BBC did quite a lot of back then, too) fails to create the necessary atmosphere for a tale with underlying supernatural elements, and the child playing young Pearl is annoying--but so were most child performers of the period.

This are minor quibbles, however, and I still found the production thoroughly engrossing.


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