In 1666 in the Massachusetts Bay colony, Puritans and the Algonquian have an uneasy truce. Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) arrives from England, seeking independence. Awaiting her husband, she establishes independence, fixing up a house, befriending Quakers and other outsiders. Passion draws her to the young pastor, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman). 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 (Robert Duvall), he seeks revenge, searching out Hester's lover and stirring fears of witchcraft. Will his murderous plot succeed? —<firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Stunning Adaptation
For starters, I have read Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, both for high school and personal enjoyment, and I absolutely loved the novel, but most high school students would disagree with my view of the novel. When seeing this film, one must remember the phrase "freely adapted from," because that's what it is. Things are changed, yes, but that doesn't stop this movie from being wonderful. The movie gives background to the Hester/Dimmesdale romance that Hawthorne left in the background, and so beings the tale to life and makes it more understandable to the modern population. Depsite its inaccuracies and liberal use of literary lisence, the movie is a hypothetical "What if?" It asks what would have happened had Dimmesdale come forward, had Pearl been a more congenial, innocent character, and had the Indian troubles played more of a part in Hawthorne's work. As Dimmesdale, Oldman performs marvelously, depicting the tortured soul of the Puritan priest in love with a strong, undaunted woman. This movie is a must see for all the historical romance lovers out there as well as those who need a reprieve from Hawthorne's often long and difficult prose. Just don't use it to pass your tests; that's what Sparknotes are for...
- Jul 1, 2003
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