The Salem witch trials of 1692 are brought vividly to life in this compelling adaptation of Arthur Miller's play, directed by Nicholas Hytner ("The Madness of King George"). A group of teenage girls meet in the woods at midnight for a secret love-conjuring ceremony. While the other girls attempt to cast love spells, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) wishes for the death of her former lover's (Daniel Day-Lewis) wife. When their ceremony is witnessed by the town minister, the girls suddenly find themselves accused of witchcraft. Soon the entire village is consumed by cries of witchcraft, and as the hysteria grows, blameless victims are torn from their homes, leading to a devastating climax.
The Salem witch hunts are given a new and nasty perspective when a vengeful teenage girl uses superstition and repression to her advantage, creating a killing machine that becomes a force unto itself. Pulsating with seductive energy, this provocative drama is as visually arresting as it is intellectually engrossing. Arthur Miller based his classic 1953 play on the actual Salem witch trials of 1692, creating what has since become a durable fixture of school drama courses. It may look like a historical drama, but Miller also meant the work as a parable for the misery created by the McCarthy anti-Communist hearings of the 1950s. This searing version of his drama delves into matters of conscience with concise accuracy and emotional honesty. Three passionate cheers for Miller, director Nicholas Hytner, and costars Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. --Rochelle O'Gorman
Top Customer Reviews
As a result, we see Winona Ryder, as Abigail Williams, and her coterie of bewitched girls, screaming hysterically and accusing innocent women of witchcraft without the background which would make these accusations plausible. Her previous relationship with John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), in the absence of other motivations, seems to be the primary reason for her behavior, but this thwarted love does not explain the extent of her rage and, especially, the involvement of the other girls. Day-Lewis is reduced to the role of victim, and one of the hallmarks of his acting, his subtlety, is absent here, except in a wonderful final scene with his wife, played by Joan Allen.Read more ›
I was very pleased with the sad and moving ending. I hope the viewing public understands the powerful paradox of it--the good true Christian people being falsely accused and hanged for witchcraft while their satanic accusers and evilly misled inquisitors look on along with a mournful, remorseful crowd. The scene at the very end with the Lord's prayer was a poignant touch. I'm glad the director had the courage to give it, as usually Hollywood plays it safe by providing the "happy ending", whether it fits or not. This heart-breaking and haunting ending was much more effective than any contrived happy ending could have been. Brilliant drama!
author of "A Young Girl's Crimes"
It is unfortunate then, that a movie such as this is marred by several flaws. While it vividly and unnervingly portrays the transformation of a community into warring factions, and ultimately the disintegration into mob-mentality and mass hysteria, it also seems very stagey. You can almost see the notations in the film script - "crowd murmurs in agreement", and so on. Additionally, Day-Lewis, and particularly Ryder, play the entire film at full volume. Thus, several integral speeches get lost in the blast. However, there are some excellent performances from those in the court scenes - the steely remorselessness of Judge Danforth and the pompous and insidious questioning of Judge Hathorne. Fortunately director Nicholas Hytner has moved as much of the action as possible out of doors, which is just as well, for Puritan dwellings are no great objects of beauty.
However, despite its shortcomings and largely unadventurous cinematography, The Crucible is a film that will remain with the viewer long after its dramatic and memorable conclusion. Even in death there is triumph and redemption.
Most recent customer reviews
The film is true to the original screenplay and features fine performances by Ryder and Day Lewis in their depictions of Abigail and ProctorPublished on March 29 2014 by Kevin Drysdale
It is rare nowadays that I come out of a movie feeling moved and enlightened. Suffice it to say that when I first saw The Crucible in the theatre several years ago, I left the... Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by Justin Elswick
This movie would have had a chance if wynona ryder wasn't in it. It still astonishes me how many movies she has starred in and she is one of the worst actresses and even more... Read morePublished on June 13 2004
..and he gave it 5 stars too. He agreed that the acting was superb all the way around. He also said that the period was captured just as he remembered. Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by Moviebuffer101
Yes, it's finally out. Despite that Amazon says that the studio is not producing it on DVD at this time. Tell me why I bought a copy at Ear-Xacy the other day. Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by Moviebuffer101
I read the book the Crucible by Arthur Miller. I thought that the book was over all good. There were some parts I did like and some parts I didn't like. Read morePublished on May 20 2004 by Gina Valenza