A small group of teen girls in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts caught in an innocent conjuring of love potions to catch young men are forced to tell lies that Satan had invaded them and forced them to participate in the rites and are then forced to name those involved. Thrown into the mix are greedy preachers and other major landowners trying to steal others' land and one young woman infatuated with a married man and determined to get rid of his innocent wife. Arthur Miller wrote the events and the subsequent trials where those who demanded their innocence were executed, those who would not name names were incarcerated and tortured, and those who admitted their guilt were immediately freed as a parable of the Congressional Communist witch hunts led by Senator Joe McCarthy in 1950's America. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
(There are Spoilers) When Puritan Reverend Parris, Bruce Davidson, of the little village of Salam Massachusetts saw his niece Abigail Williams, Winona Ryder, and her friends acting weird and dancing naked in the woods outside of town he immediately suspected them of being in league with Lucifer or the Devil.
Made to confess their crimes the girls accuse Barbadian slave Tituba, Charlayne Woodard, of orchestrating the whole event. Tituba tortured into confessing that she's in fact a witch has Abigail and the girls follow suite. Admitting their guilt and in order to save their lives, from being executed, the girls make a deal with the village elders to "out" all their fellow witches. Thus not only saving their lives from the hangman's noose but their souls from eternal damnation.
All this hysteria leads to neighbor accusing neighbor of practicing witchcraft in order to get their property as well as settle past scores or grievances with them. Abigail the leader of the girls in accusing anyone whom their at odds with of practicing witchcraft has had the hots for Farmer John Proctor, Daniel-Day Lewis, since she worked as a servant at the Proctor Farm.
Having gotten a little too friendly with Farmer John his old lady Elizabeth, Joan Allen, had her dismissed suspecting that Abigail was having an affair with her strong and handsome husband. With Abigail now riding high in Salem in her exposing the evil that dwells there among the townspeople she turns her sights on Elizabeth in order to get even in what she did to her.
The film accurately covers the infamous Salem Witch trials of 1692 that lead to 23 of those convicted of those crimes, witchcraft, to be either hanged suffocated to death as well as die in prison. Farmer John himself ended up at the end of a rope for refusing to admit he was a witch in order to save his life. Accepting death instead of dishonor John Proctor would later become the shining light and biggest hero of this dark period in Colonial American history.
As for the self-righteous, as well as neurotic and confused, Abigail Williams she took off with the Reverend Parris church money like a thief in the night never, at least in the movie, to be heard from or seen again.
The film based on Arthur Miller's 1953 play "The Crucible" is really about the Communist witch hunts of the late 1940's and early 1950's conducted by the HUAC-The House on Unamerican Activities Committee-of the US entertainment and literary industries. These hearings or witch hunts destroyed thousands of lives of innocent people who were either forced to admit their past Communist affiliations or names names of those who were associated, in their Communist ideas, with them.
Thousands of people accused of having Communist sympathies during the 1930's and throughout WWII, when the Communist Soviet Union was our biggest ally against Nazi Germany, ended up not only losing their high paying jobs, in the entertainment as well as the world of academia, but their lives as well. Many of the accused committed suicide or ended up dying from the stress of being hounded by what the HUAC imposed on them in their having to out their friends as well as family members of either being Communists or having Communist sympathies.
P.S One of those driven to their death by the constant hounding of the HUAC was actor John Garfield. Garfield died of a massive heart-attack on May 21, 1952 the very day he was to testify against his wife before the HUAC if he didn't want to end up being blacklisted by his bosses in Hollywood. The stress of facing his HURC inquisitors was far greater for tough guy and anti-hero actor John Garfield then anything or any villain he had to face on the silver or small, TV, screen.
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