In 17th-century Salem, Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A because she is an adulteress, with a child out of wedlock. For seven years, she has refused to name the father. A vigorous older ...
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In 17th-century Salem, Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet A because she is an adulteress, with a child out of wedlock. For seven years, she has refused to name the father. A vigorous older stranger arrives, recognized by Hester but unknown to others as her missing husband. He poses as Chillingworth, a doctor, watching Hester and searching out the identity of her lover. His eye soon rests on Dimmesdale, a young overwrought pastor. Enmity grows between the two men; Chillingworth applies psychological pressure, and the pastor begins to crack. A ship stops in Salem, and Hester sees it as a providential refuge for her daughter, herself, and her lover. But will Dimmesdale flee with her?Written by
I watched this film as part of my lovely Wim Wenders Collection boxed set, with eight films/documentaries, which I'm slowly working through.
As an English film lover, who's so used to 'our' often excellent dramas of old, that the thought of a German one seems quite odd and with Wenders normally associated with more contemporary and thought-provoking subjects, perhaps surprising, too.
Such films are never going to be my favourites but I can tell immediately that his version here of the Salem-set melodrama looks the part, is well-made and convinces in its period detail. Some of the coastal scenery is impressive, too, with quite a Danish feel, to my eyes. The story is most likely to be a familiar one to those seeking out this, so I don't feel the need to elaborate too much on this aspect.
As the central character Hester Byrne, Senta Berger looks attractively regal, but with a distant, cool look and the main men-folk are interestingly featured, facially (in other words, a bit ugly!) but in a not unattractive way. Another reviewer has talked about a heavy musical score which they thought hampered it - true, but this is suited to a slow-moving period drama, as it's all orchestral and musically fitting but also keeps the movie flowing along better. Visually, in parts, it could be rather static otherwise.
As I said, I'm no expert on period drama, nor on this story and haven't read the source material, so cannot say how faithful it is. However, it is a well presented, good-looking drama with a good cast and the subtitles present us with a fairly well written script. It is not as dingy and dark as many of such ilk, specially from the 70s, that I've come across and whilst Wenders will never be known for such, his 1973 (so, early) adaptation is well worth watching if you either enjoy the literary source, Wenders himself or indeed, good period drama.
The German dialogue will put some off, as will the requisite subtitles and those Wenders fans expecting something more modern, or snappy will be disappointed, possibly very much so.
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