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I am not someone to randomly give out a perfect score for a movie...
sugar_n_spice22 September 2006
...And I also happen to be a very critical person of most films. With that being said, The Crucible completely blows me away with its virtually flawless cinematic achievements!

Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely superb as John Proctor; there is no other way to put it. He is simply perfect, from his bitter, withdrawn opening few lines to when he is accused of witchcraft by his former adulterous--and scorned--lover (Winona Ryder) and begins passionately fighting for his very life and existence--and, of course, his name.

Winona Ryder turns in a beautiful performance as the disturbed and tragic Abigail Williams: a Puritain orphan raised by her super-strict, brutal, and overall villainous uncle. She becomes infatuated with John Proctor, a married man and a bit of an outcast to their society, and is willing to do anything and everything to 'obtain' him, if you will.

Joan Allen's Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress was not undeserved. Her portrayal of the honest and saintly Elizabeth Proctor (not fake innocence, like Abigail's) was touching and a bit heart-wrenching toward the end (won't give that away here).

It wasn't just the awesome acting that won me over, but the authentic Old English dialog, the somewhat grainy cinematography (which provided an uneasy feeling in viewing the town of Salem), and wonderful sets and costumes that really made this a classic for me, and my all-time favorite movie. Highly recommend it! A perfect 10/10!
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Just fantastic
Barnes-320 May 1999
Based on possibly the greatest play ever written, The Crucible is a fabulous movie - it's hard to believe that it was actually distributed by 20th Century Fox, and not an independent company. Why it took so long to be adapted for the big screen is just baffling to me. Thank God that the genius behind the original text, Arthur Miller, was permitted to write the screenplay - and get an Oscar nomination for it! The cast are all to die for, with Winona Ryder proving she doesn't always have to play lovable characters like Charlotte Flax in Mermaids (1990), or Jo March in Little Women (1994) - her performance as the malicious Abigail Williams is just as outstanding. In her Oscar nominated portrayal of Elizabeth Proctor, Joan Allen leaves an indelible impression of marvellous acting. I was in tears in the scene where she and John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) fall in love all over again. I sincerely hope that The Crucible will be shown in schools/colleges in years to come, to remind us of the horror that occurred in 17th century Salem. A work of cinematic genius.
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One of the finest plays in history is turned into a cinematic masterpiece.
dead4754818 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
One of the finest plays in history is remarkably turned into one of the finest masterpieces of the '90s. Arthur Miller's original story is one of power and the terrible nature of society on two fronts. First, it tackles the inner struggle of a morally strong man who's emotions get the better of him and the girl who will do anything to have him be her's forever. Secondly, it displays the flaws of the government and society in general, and how one person's claim can corrupt an entire town. It's a stunning take on the foolishness and utterly unbelievable nature of a topic that dates back to the Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism and is even poignant today in terms of the War on Terror.

The topic that interested me more was the first one I spoke of; a striking study of a moral man who's done a wrong and the pain he has to suffer because of it. John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a working man, who gets whatever he earns with his bare hands. His wife, Elizabeth (Joan Allen) is the standard working class wife. While John is in the field, she gets dinner ready and gets the house in order. Lingering over this seemingly perfect marriage is a secret that has isolated them from the rest of the community. John's affair with a former servant, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) has created a cold, emotionless relationship between the two but Elizabeth's devoted love for him means that they will stay isolated and no one will ever know of his sin which would surely lead to his hanging. Of course no man can endure this experience without suffering some severe inner pain and this slowly unfolds over Proctor throughout the course of the film.

In the end, after turmoil between John and Elizabeth both trying to do the best thing for each other that has turned into the worst case scenario for both, Proctor's pain is unleashed in one of the most heartbreaking scenes in as long as I can remember. He agrees to proclaiming his life in the world of witchcraft in exchange for releasement from prison back to his wife and unborn child. But when they ask for his signature on the statement, and state that they will post it on the church wall, his years of torment and internal frustration explode as he pleads in a scene of gut-wrenching release as he begs for the jurors to leave him his name. This story is all highlighted by an absolutely brilliant and cathartically heartbreaking performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. He even upstages the commanding Queen Joan Allen (who also delivers a superb performance) in several scenes, and delivers one of the finest examples of acting genius I've ever had the privilege of experiencing.

This entire relationship and painful release is experienced under the grand scheme of the Salem Witch Trials, an eye-opening display of how easily the government and society can be fooled and won over. Due to her love for John Proctor, Abigail Williams will do anything to take Elizabeth out of the picture. Even if this means bringing down all of Salem in the process. She starts claiming that everyone is a witch, along with her numerous friends who so easily follow her example, in order to avoid getting into trouble. When she realizes how brilliantly this works, and how everyone she claimed practiced witchcraft ended up in the gallows, that she could use it to end Elizabeth and live a happy life alone with John. Of course the folly of youth is there blind belief that everything will work according to plan, and she underestimates Proctor's love and devotion to his wife who he clearly shows he will go to the grave with. Abigail see's that no matter what she does, she won't get John back and flees Salem in the midst of night, never to be seen again (at least as far as the film/play is concerned). Winona's performance is also very strong and ranks high among the best of her career and of 1996.

At the center of this entire story is how easy it is to sway society, shown through these Witch Trials. Arthur Miller originally wrote his play to comment on the foolishness of McCarthyism; the children representing McCarthy, the jurors obviously as the government and the false witches as the dozens of people that McCarthy accused of being a communist under no grounds that were put into prison for being completely innocent. These two incidents in American history show that the government lies down to the very core of their jural structure. The phrase 'Innocent until proved guilty' is one of the most abused in history and these historical accounts prove that we are and have always been much more about the reverse; guilty until proved innocent or, in terms of the Witch Trials, hanging unless you admit your guilt. Even now we see the flaws of the governmental structure as numerous people are being claimed to be terrorists and are put in prisons, though there is no concrete evidence of that which they are prosecuted for, just the false claims of a foolish society.
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Not just a dynamic character study, but a study of madness. **** (out of four)
dee.reid25 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
For my eleventh grade English class, I have just finished reading "The Crucible" and have also finished watching the movie adaptation. "The Crucible" which was written by Arthur Miller, is a shocking look into the events of a tragic period early in history that America will not likely forget. The setting of "The Crucible" is that it takes place in the Puritan community of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The story revolves around the hysteria caused by the Salem Witch Trials. John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), the story's protagonist (or should I say antagonist?), is facing a little bit of a moral dilemma. It turns out that Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), Proctor's former servant girl and mistress, along with several other young girls, were caught out in the woods dancing. Apparently, from the evidence, Witchcraft was taking place. John's wife, Elizabeth (Joan Allen), is suffering because of his lechery, but deep down thinks that she may be partially responsible. Reverend Parris (Bruce Davison) calls for Reverend Hale (Rob Campbell), a renowned pastor (and self-proclaimed paranormal expert) to come to Salem to investigate the accusations.

John Proctor is sort of an innocent in this story. In the beginning of the play, we see that he is deeply haunted by the affair, but he keeps his head up about it. He is powerful of body, even-tempered and not easily led or quick to jump to conclusions. He changes significantly because he begins to lower his self-esteem, especially after he looses control over his current servant girl, Mary Warren. His change furthers because he later admits his sins, which leads to his inevitable imprisonment. While in prison, he learns that his wife has become pregnant, and therefore she will not be hanged. In the end, John is hanged after signing a confession and then ripping it up when he learns that it was to be nailed onto the church door. However, he did not die in bad spirits because he had accepted the fact that he was not coming out of this situation alive but his name would go untarnished. Proctor pleas before his execution, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"

Elizabeth Proctor is sort of an innocent too. At the very start of the play, we see that she is a rather soft-spoken person, even with her past grievances. As well, she is an honest person who always tells the truth and never lies. She changes, however, when Abigail Williams brings charges of Witchcraft up against her. Her physical change starts when she discovers that she is pregnant. By the end of the play, she forgives John for his lechery. She states, "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!" This simply goes to show that she truly loved him in the end.

Lastly, there is Reverend Hale. At the beginning of the play, we see that he is a very confident man. He seems to consider himself an expert in the field of Witchcraft and goes about promoting that image with the aid of his countless books. The books, he thinks will solve all of the problems facing Salem. When Reverend Parris makes a comment about how heavy his books are, Hale simply replies, "They must be; they are weighted with authority." This goes to show that he puts too much faith into his books and not enough into common sense. His emotional change begins when the good and well-respected people of the Salem community start being accused of Witchcraft, like when Abigail Williams charges Elizabeth Proctor as being a witch. By the end of the play, he discovers that all of the accusations were in fact a hoax, orchestrated by Abigail Williams who shortly before the end of the trials, mysteriously disappears along with Mercy Lewis. He feels deep regret and extreme guilt for not trying to stop the madness sooner. He is also begging John Proctor to save his life, regardless of the possible aftermath in which his name is going to be corrupted.

In many ways, the story of "The Crucible" may not just be a dynamic character study, but it is also a study of the madness that can stem from superstition and fear. It simply amazes me that one little girl was able to use fear and superstition as a means of getting what she wanted. The madness that had been created by the Salem Witch Trials was not just the result of people's greed, but jealousy and all-out hatred for one another. And you must remember that this is coming from a religious community that had come to this country to escape hatred, though it was not the same type as it was the reason for them leaving Europe.

For many bizarre reasons, "The Crucible" has also been the unfortunate target of misguided criticism. These criticisms, I feel, are the unfortunate result of the Joseph McCarthy era. In 1950, McCarthy who was a senator from Wisconsin had engaged on a "Red Hunt", which to him, was a hunt for suspected Communist Party members and spies inside the U.S. State Department. Though this was relatively early in the Cold War, he had played on Americans already stemming fears of the Soviet Union in order to help rally people to flesh out the suspected persons. Many of the people who were accused, lost their jobs and had extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. McCarthy, like many of the people during the Salem Witch Trials, had engaged on this hunt out of sheer hatred and jealousy of other people. And like when the Trials finally came to an end when the governor's wife had been accused of Witchcraft, McCarthy met his downfall in 1954, when he began attacking members of the United States Army. The Army immediately took dislike to the accusations and struck back at McCarthy. His power finally fell through when then President Dwight Eisenhower launched his own investigation into the accusations and found nothing. McCarthy later died in 1957 of alcohol-related problems.

Do you see all of the parallels between the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and the McCarthy era during the 1950s? These are perfect examples of the horrible things that people are capable of doing to each other out of the pure hatred and the accusers will often succeed in doing this by playing on people's fears and local superstition.
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Terrific cast
dbdumonteil4 November 2001
The Raymond Rouleau French version of the fifties featuring Simone Signoret and Yves Montand as the Proctors seems to have vanished in the air.It's never on French TV and it's not available on tape or DVD either.In the fifties this could not be filmed in the USA ,because it was a highly topical issue,hence the Rouleau version which was first a stage production.

Actually,this masterwork is so strong that it can't be connected only with MCCarthyism.Its scope reaches far beyond.It's a plea for tolerance,freedom of thinking and dignity of the human being wherever and whenever they may be endangered.An excellent cast does the play justice.Daniel Day-Lewis gives a powerful performance (I say God is dead!)that few of his peers can equal.Wynona Ryder is efficient in her ambiguous part.Joan Allen gives a subdued but moving interpretation.Paul Scoffield personifies the inhuman law with authority.Bruce Davison ("Willard"'s hero ,1971).

All in all, a magnificent show ,thanks to all concerned.
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Powerful telling which uses the camera well to open the play up
bob the moo4 May 2003
The day after Rev Parris finds his daughter and niece dancing in a group in the forest, several of the girls in the village are deep in sleep unable to be wakened. Rev Hale is called in to investigate and Abby Williams speaks up claiming witchcraft and that she and the other girls had been brought into it by the devil himself. As the investigation continues, Abby leads the claims on a twisted vendetta, eventually ending at the door of John Proctor and his family, the man she had an affair with and still loves.

I have never seen this on the stage, although my wife claims we did 2 years ago, and am unable to really compare this to other versions. However the first time I saw this film it grabbed me by the sheer force behind it. The plot is emotive and increasingly griping as it spirals out of control and Abby guides the justice of the court. The script is excellently written – sturdy yet capable of bringing out so much without trivialising or simplifying it. I defy anyone to not get sucked into this story as it is so well written.

Of course this would stutter a little without a suitably strong cast to carry it off. Happily the film is strong in performances and strong in depth. Day Lewis is deceptively light at the start, but the way he brings himself on during the film to his final shot is moving. Allen gives him able, albeit less showy, support. Ryder gives one of her best performances I've seen. Although she is required to be hysterical for much of the film she carries it off convincingly and, when needed, she is as menacing as a black hearted woman can be. Scofield is driven and well pitched but is helped by great support from Campbell and, more surprisingly, Gaynes (better known as Police Academy's Lassard). A rich cast of males in the chief support roles (Jones, Davison and Vaughan) really help – not only do they deliver the goods but their faces give the constant perception of depth.

The direction could easily have treated this as a stage production but Hytner opens it out without ever going over the top. The themes within the book are easily brought out and Hytner never stands in their way – he lets us take what we can from the material without too much flair in the way. Overall this is a fantastic version of the play – it is intelligent, well acted and very moving and involving. It may have the occasional weak link but those are pretty minor. Anyone with a passing interest in very good films should watch this.
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excellent adaptation for the screen
khatcher-220 April 2003
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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What is truth?
lib-44 March 1999
Thanks to the director who let Arthur Miller do the screenplay- so the movie is a honest rendition of the great play. Daniel Day Lewis is very good- and the movie is true to the original. Winona Rider also does well- but Joan Allen is excellent. This is a true classic of American Theater and since we can't always get to a live performance the movie is a good substitute... recommend every student of am. lit see it and anyone who wants to delve into the deceit of the human spirit... nothing is new people are still jealous and still vindictive and Miller writes of these two traits so well. The whole cast does a credible job
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It is a Masterpiece
Julius898814 May 2004
It's good to see a movie with Arthur Miller like script maker (Based on his novel) and screenplayer of this excellent movie.

For me this is a PERFECT creation, that it is incredibly performed by Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis. An absolute MASTERPIECE based on the Miller's experiences with Senator Joseph MCcarthy and his "hunt". TOTALLY recommendable. For me...... A Masterpiece.
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Impressing and well-done
danielll_rs9 October 1999
"The Crucible" is slow, but it doesn't make the film bad. It is a very impressing, beautiful, well-acted and well-done film.

The story of passion, lies, madness, witchcraft and tragedy kept my attention. The adaptation of Arthur Miller's play is superb.

Joan Allen deserved her nomination for the Oscar as best supporting actress and Daniel Day-Lewis should have been nominated.

A must see.

Rating: 9/10
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Wicked movie
ironhorse_iv21 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The settling is 17th Century Salem, Massachusetts. A group of spoil teenage girls fearing in getting in trouble for meeting in the woods at midnight for a secret love-conjuring ceremony where the town minister mistook it as witchcraft. Instead of love, psychopath Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) wishes for the death of her former lover's John Proctor (Daniel Day Lewis) wife. The girls are accused of witchcraft, but to save themselves they accused others. Soon the entire village is consumed by hysteria, and innocent victims are put on trial, leading to a accusations flying, judgments are pronounced, and sentences are quickly and ruthlessly carried out. The only person whom can save them is Mary Warren (Karron Graves). The Crucible isn't a pretty film, but Nicholas Hytner's grim movie version of the classic Arthur Miller concerning the Salem witch hunts is a tragedy and in some what could be also be called a horror/thriller movie. It explodes into a melodramatic but never less than gripping story between both John Proctor Vs Abigail Williams. Ryder is wicked insidious, as the angry, hysterical Abigail, caught up in a conspiracy of lies from which there's no escape looking for revenge against him. Daniel Day-Lewis gives us a stubborn yet vulnerable John Proctor. He gives one of the best lines in the film toward the end. Joan Allen delivers a heart-breaking performance as the anguished Elizabeth, a fervently religious woman unable to disprove the allegations made against her and her's pretty evident (if you read the book) that Elizabeth did forgive John Proctor. if she hadn't, she wouldn't have blamed herself partly for the affair. their relationship is very complex, but in the end she does forgive him. this draws on one of Miller's main themes of forgiveness. This story really shows how far people will go in their words and actions when they are motivated by blind fear. The Crucible was written as a thinly disguised attack on the McCarthy anti-communist Red Scare "witch hunts" of the 1950s America.! This is so dramatic and powerful my heart clenches every time I see this, so check it out.
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Heartwrenching Drama
McPearson27 August 2003
Arthur Miller is one of my favorite playwrights. Being a drama major, I read a lot of Miller. THE CRUCIBLE is by far my favorite. It has been for the last six years. This film version is great, not only the acting by some principles, but the sets, costumes, script, and (maybe I'm weird) music. Winona Ryder is exceptional as Abigail, who starts the whole witchcraft thing. Daniel Day Lewis is too subtle and quiet as John Proctor. Judge Danforth is boring in the film. Joan Allen is wonderful. She plays the long suffering wife Elizabeth Proctor and she is just as saintly as the character is supposed to be. The final scene with John and Elizabeth Proctor makes me cry every time when Elizabeth confesses to John that..." was a cold house I kept. Forgive me John. Forgive me.".

***1/2 out of 4
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Forceful and Powerful
gcd703 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Powerful telling of Arthur Miller's revered play about the fearful witch hunt that took place in Salem, Massachussets in the late 17th century. Director Nicholas Hytner ensures the fanaticism and rabid superstition of the day is conveyed with force to the stunned audience, and I'm sure most will scarcely believe that a court of law could allow an accused person who pleads innocent to die, and one who confesses guilt (through threat of death) to live.

Miller has painstakingly brought his play to the screen with care, not only to be true to the stage production, but also to fully develop his complex characters.

The cast have done their level best to fulfill Miller's work, especially Winona Ryder who attempts to portray Abigail as something more than a vengeful harlot, though it's difficult to see her as anything else. Her performance is a strong one, but stronger still is Daniel Day-Lewis who again delivers the goods as John Proctor, the man who stands accused, along with his unfailing wife (a showing of passion and control from Joan Allen), of the terrible crime of consorting with the devil. The tremendous struggle he has with his very soul is most convincingly conveyed. Solid support comes from the craggy-faced Paul Scofield, a surprising Jeffrey Jones and perhaps even more surprising, George Gaynes (Commandant Lassard of "Police Academy" fame). Smaller, though quite impressive standouts come from Bruce Davison as the floundering Reverend Parris and Rob Campbell as the rather more enlightened, and much more practical, Reverend Hale. Robust acting makes this film a thoroughly enjoyable one.

George Fenton's music is most appropriate, editing is precise and art direction simple yet telling.

Wednesday, February 26, 1997 - Village Rivoli
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Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!
Spinetinglers27 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After being caught dancing naked in the woods, Abigail Williams hatches a plan with the other girls in the village. Abigail claims that she has been fighting to save her own soul, as she is surrounded by people who worship the devil. Instead of dismissing these claims as foolish ramblings of a young girl, the town elders encourage her hysteria. Accusations fuelled by provincial politics, greed, spite, paranoia, and fear become commonplace. Many people are forced to make the ultimate sacrifice rather than tarnish their good name. Arthur Miller was a prodigious American writer and I am sure, when making a movie of one of his plays, there is a certain amount of trepidation on the part of the Director and the actors to do a reputable job. After all, Mr Miller is not going to be blamed if they make a lousy film. Thankfully, Miller was available to write the screenplay. With a cast that included Daniel Day Lewis, Joan Allen, and Wynona Ryder in her heyday, not much can go wrong and it doesn't. The Crucible is a superb film, filled with frightening insights into mob mentality. It also shows how situations can get completely out of control when rational thought is replaced by foolishness and cruel intolerance. You may argue that The Crucible has lost some of its original impact. It was first shown to American audiences in the 1950s, during McCarthy Era. However, the subtext is still very relevant today because, unfortunately, intolerance, injustice, and mass hysteria are still problems that people face the world over. The Crucible is a compelling film with a formidable cast that looks and sounds authentic. You can't get much better than that!
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Powerful Telling of the Salem Witch Trials.
drownnnsoda3 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I had to watch this film as a part of my high school literature class, since we had just finished reading Arthur Miller's classic play. I thought the play was great, definitely one of the best I've read (although I haven't read too many), and was wondering what the film would be like. And I was blown away. The film centers around John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his wife, Elizabeth (Joan Allen), who find themselves immersed in the hysteria the grips the colonial town of Salem, Massachussets, when rumors of witchcraft and Devil worshipping break out. This hysteria is set off after a group of girls are found dancing naked in the woods at night, and drinking the blood from a sacrificed animal, obviously dabbling in some sort of black magic. Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) is a cruel, deceitful young woman who is the main accuser in the witch hunt, although she herself was actually part of the ritual herself, and begins pointing out innocent person by innocent person, soon accusing Elizabeth and John as a revenge tactic for her failed affair with the man.

Having read the play, I can easily say that this movie was very loyal to Miller's original work, which is a fictional account of the infamous Salem witch trials. Only a few minor changes were made here and there, but for the most part it was the same as the play. Aside from the wonderful story (that Miller wrote to reflect on the Communist blacklisting event in the 1950's), the acting is the real strong point. Daniel Day-Lewis and Joan Allen are both exceptional - they have great chemistry, and are both great actors. Winona Ryder plays the manipulative Abigail wonderfully, I can't really say anything bad about any of the acting. Aside from that, the sets and costumes display the time period (late 1600s America) beautifully, and the last scene of the film was just flat out depressing, as was the final conversation between John and Elizabeth. It really shows just how harsh and unreasonable the Puritan society was.

Overall, "The Crucible" is an excellent adaptation of a play brought to the big screen. The acting, story, settings, costumes, and everything else made this such a powerful film. Honestly, I'm not sure they really could have done it better, Miller's play was definitely done justice. "Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer." 8/10.
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During Psychotic American Times, You're Given A Crucible To Prove Yourself
jrm23july@aol.com20 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"The Crucible" is adapted from the 1954 play by Arthur Miller. I read "The Crucible" in high school and I liked it very much. The big screen version did not match up to Arthur Miller play in depth, design, characterizations, and overall screenplay. However this was an articulate and poignant film and I liked it a lot.

The movie takes place in Salem Massachusetts in 1692, the Pre- Revolutionary War days. At the time, people of the Colonies are caught up in the belief of devils, witches, and witchcraft.

The story begins in the forest, with the teenagers of Salem engaging in a séance, in which they are calling on the spirits to cast love spells over their boyfriends. Abigail Williams is the ringleader.

They are discovered by her uncle, Reverend Parris, who is in a rage when Abigail returns home with his young daughter, who is ill due to the guilt of summoning spirits.

To avoid castigation by Reverend Parris and the theologically rigid court system, Abigail and the other girls start accusing several of the adults of witchcraft. They do a tremendous acting job in convincing the church and the courts that they are being attacked by the devil.

Judge Danforth of Massachusetts is then brought to Salem to investigate these accusations. Not realizing the motives behind the accusations- lust, greed, anger, etc.- he has several people arrested for attacking the children "with their spirits". Among the wrongly accused are a beggar woman, a nurse, and the wife of an adulterer.

Joining in with the accusations is Thomas Putnam, a vindictive farmer who couldn't care less about witchcraft and is only after other people's land upon their deaths.

Elizabeth Proctor, wife of the movie's hero, John Proctor, is accused of witchcraft by Abgail Williams, who has been secretly fornicating with John Proctor. Proctor, to protect his wife from hanging, is forced to reveal before the court that he is an adulterer. The naive Judge Danforth does not believe Proctor, and secretly asks Elizabeth whether her husband is an adulterer. When she says no to try to protect her husband, he throws this accusation out of court and charges John Proctor with witchcraft.

Proctor is forced to admit that he lied about the adultery charge, and is in fact an agent of the devil, or face hanging. He has to choose between his integrity, and the integrity of his children, or face the death penalty.

The Crucible gives insight into the human psyche, showing that intangibles like devils, witches, Satan, and hell, can be motivated by tangibles such as lust, jealousy, land disputes, and anger. This is what makes The Crucible such a good movie. Powerful performances by Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder make this a must see movie. "The Crucible" was definitely one of the better films of the 1990's.
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Mister Parris! You are a brainless man!
sol-kay31 May 2008
(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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The Magic Of Arthur Miller
zkonedog28 February 2017
Sometimes, movies that are designated as "classic" suffer from a strange sort of reverse- discrimination. That's probably the reason why it took me so long to actually see this version of "The Crucible", as I thought of it as "old" or "not exciting enough". What I quickly discovered, however, is that Arthur Miller's tale here is truly one for the ages. It's a shame I waited this long to see it!

For a basic plot summary, "The Crucible" is a story set during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) and a number of her teenaged female friends are screwing around in the woods one night (typical teenage rebellion kind of stuff) when they are discovered and charged as witches. What Abigail and the gang quickly discover is that in front of Judge Danforth (Paul Scofield), "acting the part" of witches gives them a great deal of attention and power. Things get ugly fast and pretty soon the entire community is in an uproar over who may or may not be a witch. Enter John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen), a common sense-driven couple who seemingly have the best chance to put an end to this madness. Yet, with John having a shady history with Abigail, they all ended up sucked into the lies and deceit, forcing difficult choices to be made regarding character and honesty.

Not being as much of a theater enthusiast as I am of film/TV, this was just the second Arthur Miller work that I had seen ("Death of a Salesman" with Dustin Hoffman being the first). That playwright has an incredibly keen sense of universal human themes and how to manipulate them to create high drama. Though "Crucible" is set hundreds of years ago, I can confidently say that it will endure (in some form or another) for hundreds of years more. The characters, emotions, and plots feel like they could happen today or tomorrow. This film touches on such common, deep-seated issues as:

-The power of religion (both good and bad) -The effect of mass hysteria on an uneducated community -The propensity of one lie to be followed by more -The lengths humans will go (or the shortcuts we may take) to preserve our names and honor -The conflicting romantic notions of both teenagers and adults

So, despite carrying a reputation that can get a little "weighty", "The Crucible" is really quite a simple film, concocting a plausible scenario and then letting human nature take its course. I recently saw the film "The Witch", a movie that shares much in theme with this earlier effort, and feel that the two measure up to each other quite well. If you enjoyed one, I think you will feel the same for the other.

Overall, I was blown away by the simple, yet spectacular, quality of the writing and acting in "The Crucible". It will stimulate a lot of deep thought on the part of the viewer without getting overly complex or confusing. I think that there will be more Arthur Miller stories in my future!
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Relevant but inert
AndyWakes6 January 2015
Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" is a very important allegory that is as relevant today in the post-9/11 world as it was in the 50's during the height of McCarthyism. Yet despite the relevance of the play, it's hard not to view the movie as a letdown. It has Daniel Day-Lewis (perhaps the greatest active actor) in the lead role and the film's voice of reason John Proctor, but even he can seem to make his character wholly believable. It seems as though nearly every character in the film inhabit roles of symbols, rather than real people. The characters act only to underscore Miller's political commentary rather than to deliver a nuanced study of humanity. Characters so quickly devolve into a state of hysteria that it's nearly impossible to believe. Miller and the film's point with this are to show how mob mentality and the basic human instinct to find a culprit in inexplicable circumstances lead people to behave irrationally. But these scenes are completely inorganic and only serve the film's themes, which badly harms its credibility. Despite the seriousness and intended importance of this film, it's hard to take a film seriously that features a dead-pan Daniel Day- Lewis surrounded by dozens of screaming, hysterical individuals. Unfortunately, this film will likely inspire more unintended giggles than deep conversations about human nature.
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Sobering And Chaotic - In Keeping With The Subject Matter
sddavis6310 April 2011
Arthur Miller wrote the play on which this movie was based in 1953. 1953 in the United States was the height of the Red Scare, with McCarthy and Nixon among others seeking to hunt down and destroy Communists - often with little or conflicting evidence, and often to the ruin of those accused on such flimsy evidence. Miller couldn't write a play depicting the abuses of the Communist witch-hunt, so he did the next best thing - he wrote a play based on the incident in American history that might be the closest thing to the Communist witch-hunts: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, in which rumours led to suspicions, and personal jealousies and ambitions led to accusations and people lied about their neighbours and friends in order to deflect attention away from themselves and innocent people were forced to confess to witchcraft because if they denied it (no matter their innocence) they'd hang and the courts became less interested in discovering the truth than in rooting out the evil. It's actually quite a good parallel.

This 1996 movie is based on Miller's play, and the screenplay for it was written by Miller himself. It's a sometimes chaotic movie - quite in keeping with the subject matter (either the official subject matter of the 1690's or the unofficial subject matter of the 1950's) - but in its chaos one picks up the basic point of how easily otherwise good people with normally good intentions can get caught up in evil ways. The devil may well have been on the prowl in Salem in 1692 - not through the accused but rather through their accusers and the system that encouraged and empowered the accusers.

Generally speaking the performances here were pretty solid. Both Daniel Day-Lewis (as John Proctor) and Winona Ryder (as Abigail Williams) carried themselves well and the supporting cast was strong. The portrayal of life in a 17th century Puritan community is a little bit difficult to relate to, and even the Puritan manner of referring to virtually all married women as "Goody" (short for "Goodwife") grates for a while and sometimes creates confusion for the viewer in trying to keep the characters straight, because it's so unusual to modern ears - although, on the other hand, it does provide an air of authenticity to the movie.

One can only be grateful that the Witch Hunt ended fairly quickly (although a good number of people were executed.) The Communist witch hunt lasted unfortunately longer with a greater number of people being scarred for life by the experience (and, indeed, some losing their lives as a result of it.) One would like to think that we've progressed over the years, although the demonization of Moslems since 9/11 - although is hasn't perhaps reached the depths of 1692 or the 1950's - suggests that the possibilities for such excesses are still present with us. (7/10)
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The Crucible is a very good film - a near-perfect translation of Arthur Miller's classic play. As a movie, it is even better.
DaRick8920 June 2007
Arthur's play, The Crucible, was meant to denote, with some historical inaccuracy, the witch trials of Salem in 1692. However, Miller used the Salem witch trials as an allegory to the McCarthyism which pervaded throughout the United States during the 1950's. I'm sure the majority of the American IMDb users have a vague idea of what happened during that era, so I'll get to the movie. Anyway, the film adaption of the Crucible is indeed a faithful adaption of the play. Given the masterful nature of the play, this is obviously a compliment.

The Salem witch hysteria, as documented in the film, first occurs when Reverend Samuel Parris (Bruce Davison) finds a group of girls dancing naked in the Salem forest. Parris is later led to believe that the girls were holding a séance with Tituba, the slave of Parris. This leads to mass hysteria and the resultant witch-hunt. John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), a respected figure, finds that his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) has been accused of witchcraft. His involvement in the witch-hunt grows deeper when he finds that Abigail (Winona Ryder, future shoplifter), his former teenage lover, set Elizabeth up. I admit to not seeing the ending of the film, but I read the play, so I expect it will be similar.

I don't often speak about the directing, since I don't know much about what makes a good director. However, Nicholas Hynter's direction is smooth, as is the cinematography, leading to the plot being fairly easy to follow. The costumes also appear to be appropriate to the era (1692). The plot is obviously competent, as it is an adaption of Miller's play, which is a well-constructed allegory. However, the transition to the film could've easily resulted in the implementation of some sickeningly saccharine scenes, particularly where Abigail and John interact. Thankfully, this doesn't occur.

Adding to the effectiveness of this film is the fact that it arguably demonstrates how the boundaries of guilt and innocence are altered in a culture of fear, guilt and malice (which was prevalent in Salem). It also gives us insight as to how authority figures may act in these times of adversity. The events in Salem (and indeed McCarthyism) were also the result of an ideological conflict between the puritans and non-puritans (Salem was a puritan community), as the film amply demonstrates.

This doesn't make the film perfect, however. The acting, while rarely being bad, is decidedly mixed. This is in regards to the correlation between each actor's portrayal of their character and the personality of the character within the play. In this regard, Ryder plays the addled 'whore' that is Abigail quite well. Joan Allen also portrays Elizabeth Proctor appropriately (as a sullen yet kindly woman). Paul Scofield portrays Danforth the way he should - as a cold-hearted human being. Jeffrey Jones also brings out the vindictive side of Thomas Putnam.

However, Bruce Davison portrays Parris as too much of a tyrant, rather than the whimsical, petty church leader that Miller constructed him as. Similarly, Rob Campbell turns in a wooden performance as Reverend Hale. In my mind, he does not demonstrate enough of the hysteria that punctuated Hale's personality later on in the play. Peter Vaughan also can't help but make Giles Corey look more irritating than he actually is. Daniel Day-Lewis is, as far as I can remember, a mixed proposition as John Proctor. When he is meant to be hysterical, he pulls it off perfectly. However, in his interaction with Abigail and even Elizabeth to an extent, he occasionally seems wooden and unconvincing.

Anyway, as an adaption of the film, The Crucible is near-perfect, with a few sub-par acting performances marring an otherwise spotless picture. As a movie, it is even better, as it also acts as a sociological study with some aplomb. I have no hesitation in rewarding The Crucible:

4.5/5 stars
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The Elusive Crime Of Witchcraft
bkoganbing11 July 2013
Arthur Miller is gone now, but he lived long enough to see his master work The Crucible finally on the big screen. Back when it was on Broadway it was deemed too controversial in those paranoid days of the Fifties. The Crucible was Miller's answer to the witch hunting House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee of Joe McCarthy. He saw parallels between the Salem Witch Trials where several people were put to death in that sad town for the elusive crime of witchcraft. Miller even got to adapt his work to the screen and did it so well that the stage origins aren't even noticeable.

One of the things I marveled when viewing the film was Miller's mastery of the Puritan culture. He must have done some heavy research into it to capture so well the spirit of those times and how they paralleled the McCarthy Fifties.

But I would take a different tack in talking about The Crucible. It is a wonderful condemnation of a religious based society as the Puritans were in those days. These people came to the new world to seek freedom of conscience to worship the Creator/Deity in their own way. No sooner do they get here than a society is built by them excluding others who don't buy into their view of things. It would be another century before the novel idea was seriously raised about having NO established religion. It hasn't taken fully hold yet as witness by the Moslem theocratic states like Iran or the newly found influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in some of the former Soviet Union. Not to mention here where after thirty or so years the influence of bible beaters in the body politic seems finally to be receding.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays John Proctor the farmer who is by no means an ideal hero is the man forced into martyrdom simply because he won't denounce his neighbors as witches and warlocks. Joan Allen is magnificent as Mrs. Proctor who pays for her husband's indiscretions with teenage flirt Winona Ryder.

All of this gets started when Ryder and several of her peers go out to dance in the moonlight, strictly forbidden in the Puritan society. Who led them into this is Charlayne Woodard, an African slave and recently over from Africa where she remembers her customs from her tribe. The girls get spotted and all that follows come from some young girls who rather than face punishment for breaking their strict code say the devil made them do it and start naming friends and neighbors as witches. This whole business gives the girls an opportunity to escape punishment and settle some personal scores. And it spreads to the adults who ought to know better.

I've also thought that Arthur Miller might also have been influenced by Lillian Hellman's These Three which is also about tattle tale young girls and the harm they cause. The parallels are too obvious to ignore.

Though it took half a century to make it to the screen, The Crucible was worth every second of the wait.
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What would you have me do? WARNING-CONTAINS SPOILERS
Firebird116523 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
So you come back for GCSEs and you're told that you will be studying "The Crucible" for both Enlglish and Theatre Studies, you don't exactly feel thrilled about the whole thing, and after reading the play you're enthusiasm is kindled slightly, but you still aren't looking forward to seeing the film.

Despite having read the play prior to watching the film, it still didn't prepare me for the emotional and at times, quite frightening roller-coaster you are then thrown onto when watching the 1996 adaption of Arthur Miller's classic The Crucible. I have to admit that i was crying by the end, (Spoiler) and when Proctor and the other tow women are led out to their death, the lords prayer right at the end, with each of them being killed throughout the prayer, and Proctor never actually finishing the prayer, being cut off at "forever and ever-". The abruptness of the ending and the sheer horror of what had actually been done, hit home so suddenly, and i don't think that their was a dry eye in the room.

The acting was extremely well done throughout, providing the film with an edge and a fear that was maintained well throughout. I don't feel that their was a weak character portrayal throughout the entire film, and their were some amazingly emotional scenes,(SPOILER) most noteibly, Proctor and Abigial fairly early on in the play, the scene in act three with the girls turning on Mary Warren and finally the scene in act four where Proctor and Elizabeth are reunited briefly before proctor is led to his death.

Recently I was in a production of the crucible, and was privileged enough to portray Abby, which was fantastic! Having seen the film, I was able to have a basis to try and establish my version of the character on, and also I was able to "get under Abby's skin", which i have to admit, has given me a lot more sympathy for her character. I know that a lot of people say she was a horrible, spiteful, twisted girl, but actually if you look carefully at her character you can actually begin to understand why she acts the way she does.

I feel that this was a fantastic interpretation of the play, and it is an incredible tear jerker! Most definitely well worth seeing!
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Over-the-top melodrama
Wuchakk16 June 2013
The Salem witch trials that occurred from February 1692 to May 1693 resulted in 19 people hung, another slowly crushed to death and over 150 imprisoned. Historian George Lincoln Burr described it as a notorious case of mass hysteria and vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process.

Since I love history and am a fan of Daniel Day-Lewis you would think that I'd love 1996' "The Crucible." But over the years I've seen a couple of clips from it and the film turned me off for some reason. It just struck me as so over-the-top. Yes, I realize that filmmakers always have to amp up the dramatics because they only have two hours to tell their story, but I mean over-the-top melodrama in the sense of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994). If you liked the way that film was done you'll probably love this one.

Anyway, I finally decided to actually view "The Crucible" and give it the chance it deserves. It does have a lot going for it -- quality actors, authentic sets, costumes and locations (shot in Massachusetts and Nova Scotia) and a dialogue-driven approach. Unfortunately, the film's very first scene struck me as inauthentic. It shows several young girls escaping into the forest in the middle of the night to dance under the moonlight (one nude) and cast spells, led by a black woman from the village. This scene was ten times wilder than anything at Woodstock and yet we're to believe all these young Puritan girls felt liberated enough to do this in 1692? Right. I realize that something like this supposedly happened but it's just so amped-up in the movie that it strikes an unbelievable chord.

I dismissed it, however, and continued to give the movie a chance, but the story and dialogue just failed to draw me into the dramatics.

I think it's worth watching for the reasons cited above and the fact that it does give you a picture of what it was like back then, overdone as it is, and it does inspire you to research the events. Other than these factors, though, the movie fails, particularly with its hyper-melodramatic approach.

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A truly superb film with great performances.
Rich B2 August 2000
This film has such an authentic feel to it, mainly due to the amazing sets and costumes, but also the wonderfully restrained performances. Ryder is surprisingly good, she plays the confused child brilliantly. Lewis is an amazingly powerful actor, and he manages to slowly pull you into his tragedy and make you feel his pain and injustice. You find yourself raging at the short sightedness of the villagers and the frigidness of their minds. This is a superb film with fantastic performances all round, and the story, well, it's a classic.
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