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 is nothing I like better than a good play for the stage, even when it is on screen. This is the second time I have been able to see this worthy conversion of Arthur Miller's classic play adapted to the screen. Nicholas Hytner certainly earnt his wages; and all the cast should have received a good pay-rise. Convincing scene-setting in Massachussets at the end of the 17th Century with heavy wood-framed farm buildings and typical North European immigrant peasants' clothing, all beautifully filmed. Arthur Miller himself collaborated on the script, allowing certain poetic licence in modernising some of the speech forms, which, in the original play written around 1952-1953 reflected speech patterns of the times.
I blow the dust off my 1973 Penguin copy of the play, and can follow some of the scenes almost verbatim. Thus the effect is dramaturgical rather than cinematographic, a little like Branaghan doing his versions of Shakespeare. A pleasing result indeed. Highly recommended for conoisseurs of fine acting in the classic sense. Neither of the two leading actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder will let you down.
The Salem Witches have been the cause of a few forays by writers, historians and so on: really the whole affair seems to typicalize people's appetites for forming psychosis-like manias, often on the grounds of nothing very concrete. I mean to say, the devil exists in the minds of those who invent it; the same cause as the `reds under the beds' phobia of the 1960s and 1970s, today transformed into `Islam Terror' around every corner. The clothing is different, but the mentality producing the phobias is not.
`The Crucible' in this excellent adaptation make this poignantly clear. My vote is slightly higher than the present IMDb average.
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