The CrucibleHD Closed Captioning
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About the Movie
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.
Could have been called The Excruciating. If ever you were after a reason to make religion history, here it is. The religious fanaticism of the Massachusetts community of the 17th century is so extreme that its judiciary is prepared to forsake reason, logic and fair-mindedness in its relentless pursuit of so-called demonic influence. So much so, that the presiding court depicted in this film allows itself to be unduly influenced by a group of silly teenage girls who do what teenage girls do so well - lie, act, cheat, anything that deflects guilt from themselves. As a result, innocent and upstanding members of the community are put to death.
If director Hytner set out to demonstrate the inanity of religious zealotry, he achieved it without qualification. Unfortunately, along the way, the audience has to endure some boring, laboured scenes with monologues spoken in the dialect of the time, which are uncomfortable to the modern ear and thus exacerbate the desire for the film to come to its close. Daniel Day Lewis is, of course, a consummate actor whose commitment to his character so outshines the efforts of the rest of this very good cast that the film feels unbalanced, with other actors trying their best to redress the situation yet managing only to overplay their role. Winona Ryder is a very good example. A delightful actor in the right role (ie GIrl, interrupted) but here just trying so hard she ends up being whiny and annoying.
As a period piece, this film serves a valuable reference point to how far christian society has come since the days of burning and hanging its members for so-called acts of witchcraft. Then again, as western governments continue to demonise those who don't agree with their ideology, perhaps society hasn't come that far after all.
A faithful rendering of Arthur Miller's masterpiece.
This is the film version of Arthur Miller's play from 1953. It is a fictionalised version of the Salem witch trials of the 1690's which Miller used as an allegory, a metaphor for the McCarthyism of the 1950's that hunted and persecuted communists as unAmerican. Miller himself was being accused at the time for "unAmerican" activities. This play was his answer to that mob mentality.
It is a metaphor for the mass hysteria and mob mentality that goes on even today, when people refuse to go along with political correctness and are scapegoated for being responsible for all of society's ills, like the witches of old.
The play is not about religion, it is about the psychology of needing to persecute a minority who refuse to conform to a set of values or for simply being different. Today it is the social media crowd of "social justice warriors" who act as judge, jury and executioner of those who do not conform to their world view. They claim compassion and diversity but are brimming with hatred and hateful acts to those who do not agree with them, just as the "loving" Christians of Salem who accused innocent people of witchcraft and hanged them.
This movie is a faithful rendering of the play. Most who watch it will probably not see their own failings in its narrative. What a pity. The play is a masterpiece of allegory and a sorely needed lesson for the world today.