Movie Review – The Crucible (1996)

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Stars: Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Scofield, Joan Allen, Bruce Davison, Rob Campbell, Jeffrey Jones

Based on a play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible revolves around the Salem witch trials, and act as a parable for the hunt for Communists that was occurring in Hollywood at the time Miller wrote it. After girls are accused of summoning the devils, Abigail (Ryder) discovers that by pretending she’s been corrupted by the devil she can place the blame on others.

I found this film to be one of those that generates real hatred and disdain for the characters in the movie, mostly because the quick judgments and hounding of people are present in human society and are ugly parts of our community. It’s an astute look at the way people can be so easily manipulated by fear, and how people can play on their reputations to punish others. Ryder is excellent as the deceptive girl who has a dark side underneath the virginal veneer, while Day-Lewis gives an anguished performance as the man trying to hold onto his faith through all the madness.

One thing I particularly enjoyed was the dialogue which has a poetic quality to it and is evocative. Although the film only takes place in one small community it feels like it’s set to a world stage.

It’s a powerful story that, unfortunately, is still relevant today, and the ending is incredible.

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