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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In 1666 in the Massachusetts Bay colony, Puritans and Algonquian have an uneasy truce. Hester arrives from England, seeking independence. Awaiting her husband, she establishes independence, fixing up a house, befriending Quakers and other outsiders. Passion draws her to a young pastor. He feels the same; when they learn her husband has probably died at the hands of Indians, they consummate their love. A child is born, and on the day Hester is publicly humiliated and made to wear a scarlet letter, her husband appears after a year with Indians. Calling himself Chillingworth, he seeks revenge, searching out Hester's lover and stirring fears of witchcraft. Will his murderous plot succeed? Written by
(Based on Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings")
Performed by Robert Shaw and the Robert Shaw Festival Singers
(Adm. by G. Schirmen Inc. (ASCAP))
Courtesy of Telarc International Corporation See more »
I was expecting something really awful, but once I got about 15 minutes into the movie, I decided that the only way to enjoy it was to forget that it was "based on" a famous novel and just enjoy the movie for what it was. And I found myself very entertained.
I was impressed with Gary Oldman's performance. It's nice to see him portray someone who isn't a psychotic ham and he did admirably well. Demi Moore suprised me with her acting and apart from a few stilted scenes and discomfort with the dialogue, I think she pulled it off pretty well. I found myself caring about her character and her relationship with Dimmesdale. Perhaps the bathing scene was a little too gratuitous -- c'mon, Demi, do you need to show it all? -- but it was only a few minutes out of 135.
I wish that Pearl could have been given more screen time and character development and the woman who did her voiceover throughout the story left much to be desired. As did Robert Duvall's performance. I didn't much like his acting in this movie at all.
The supporting cast was excellent: Joan Plowright, Edward Hardwicke, and others. The locations and set design were exquisite and the costumes were gorgeous.
Overall, I thought it was a very good way to spend a couple hours. You see some early colonial atmosphere, something which is almost extinct in movies nowadays, and adequate and sometimes inspired acting. Just don't expect to see Hawthorne's novel on the screen. If you want to see the unhappy ending in all its self-mutilating glory, see Lillian Gish's silent version that is sometimes aired on Turner Classic Movies. 6/10
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