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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.6%
Worth A Look44.19%
Average: 4.65%
Pretty Bad: 20.93%
Total Crap: 11.63%

2 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Crucible, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"The play is lame and so is the movie. Tell your teacher I said so."
2 stars

Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible,' a high-school standard, has been sold to us since 1953 as the American equal of Ibsen's 'An Enemy of the People.' Miller's play remains the only major American dramatization of the 1692 Salem witch hysteria, and that's a shame.

In 1953, The Crucible struck many as a comment on Senator McCarthy's communist "witch-hunts." The new movie version reveals the play as what it always was: a melodrama about a married guy who shouldn't have dallied with a vengeful girl.

Miller took a huge liberty with the facts. In his story, the girl, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), is 17; her married lover, John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), is around 35. In fact, John was 60 in 1692; Abigail was only 11. Obviously, there was no affair. The problem isn't that Miller diddled with the facts; it's that his diddling reduces the Salem tragedy to "Hell hath no fury like a teenage girl scorned."

Director Nicholas Hytner opens with a group of girls dancing and carrying on around a fire. One of them is Abigail, caught red-handed (and red-lipped) after drinking blood in a love ritual. The girls are quick to blame their Satanic behavior on the big bad guy himself: they claim to have been bewitched by a score of villagers, and Abigail accuses John's wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) of putting horrible spells on her. It's Abigail's revenge on Elizabeth, who ended the affair.

Miller also wrote the script, and Hytner treats the old master's text with at least as much reverence as the pious Reverend Parris (Bruce Davison) shows for the word of God. Hytner knocks himself out trying to make the play cinematic, but Miller hasn't made the play into a screenplay. At one point, Abigail simply vanishes, and her departure is explained by a line of dialogue. In a movie, we expect to see, not to be told.

Hytner's previous film, The Madness of King George, was the polar opposite of The Crucible: it was an exuberant, intelligent entertainment full of terrific performances. This time, Hytner is asleep at the wheel. The actors, with four exceptions, spend their time shrieking and spitting at the camera. Ryder comes off the worst: she looks the part, but whenever she opens her mouth, it's over. To be fair, she also gets the most unsayable lines: "I look for John Proctor who put knowledge in my heart," etc.

Joan Allen (Nixon) gives yet another quietly great performance as the repressed Elizabeth; she makes you wish that Miller had given her more to do. Rob Campbell (Unforgiven) is low-key and smart as the visiting Reverend Hale, who slowly realizes how insane Salem is becoming, and Karron Graves, a newcomer to movies, brings some poignancy to the pivotal role of the Proctors' frightened servant Mary Warren.

But the main reason to see 'The Crucible' is Paul Scofield as the grim inquisitor Judge Danforth. His line readings are lasers slicing through Miller's murky drama. In the film's best moment, Scofield's judge slam-dunks Parris with the precisely inflected "Mr. Parris, you are a ... brainless man." Without him, 'The Crucible' would be as humorless as a Puritan.

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originally posted: 01/27/07 08:55:17
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User Comments

5/12/11 serena blake it's sad and makes you boil with anger at the same time. i love it 3 stars
12/07/10 Preston Thomson il etait fantastique 4 stars
9/15/08 Bob loved every bit! 5 stars ni hoi 1 stars
12/07/07 Iasia the movie is shitty 2 stars
10/23/07 chicken TRABAJABA 5 stars
9/26/07 808azn it was better than i expected at least 4 stars
8/11/07 Ole Man Bourbon Like being beaten to death with a stick. Lewis, Allen, Scofield very good though. 3 stars
6/15/07 mb Good Story ... not sure true on accuracy 4 stars
4/25/07 Skippy McDoogy WA WA WEE WA 1 stars
3/13/07 John val jon gave me a boner! Great Movie! 4 stars
12/10/06 donna hated the movie, loved the book. book was MUCH MUCH better. movie isn't worth the time. 1 stars
12/06/06 me very good, LOVED hale. 5 stars
10/13/06 Becca I thought the movie was very interesting! i cryed at the end! It was a great movie! 4 stars
8/22/06 puseletso matenche it's an incredible movie although it starts off a bit boring 2 stars
5/11/06 george very good movie 4 stars
11/14/05 CCC The movie is interesting .. it makes you think about society today ... 4 stars
12/01/04 KRytsen Bnadtsra` good 5 stars
10/19/04 Kandice It was very sad. I cried at the end. 4 stars
10/01/04 Mr.Copeland Dale bums men so hard, Stand by not true! 1 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Loved Proctor 5 stars
1/22/04 Direk ok ok 2 stars
12/04/03 Sharon Love Good story of course. Well made movie. Loved Rob Campbells Rev. Hale. 4 stars
10/17/03 Josh Standlee The play sucks, the movie sucks! 1 stars
9/26/03 Charles Tatum Second half makes up for lackadaisical first half 4 stars
8/13/03 Rudiger not too shabby at all, although the screaming got a bit much at times 5 stars
3/07/03 Glenn juse awsome acting 5 stars
2/09/02 Ebony A wonderful adaption of the play. Daniel Day Lewis is an incredible actor. 5 stars
11/09/01 Gracy Lionheart I really liked this movie...I don't know why, but I thought it was great. 5 stars
12/11/98 Scion of Graveheart Faithful translation of the play. Cool. 4 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress Stayed very close to the play, i liked it. 4 stars
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  27-Nov-1996 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004



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