With a compelling story and amazing reenactment of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible is a must see.
The story takes place in late 17th century Salem, a Puritan village. It starts off with a group of girls running through the forest, trying not to get caught, to a small campfire where a woman, Tituba (Charlayne Woodard), waits. As soon as the girls get to the campfire, Tituba starts singing songs from her native land, Barbados. A few seconds later the party is crashed by Reverend Parris (Bruce Davison) and as a result, the girls flee. Parris’ daughter, Betty (Rachel Bella), and niece, Abigail (Winona Ryder), were both in the forest dancing; Abigail was also naked. To keep themselves from getting into trouble the girls blame Tituba, who is also Parris’ slave, for bewitching them. Soon after, what seemed like a harmless way to get out of trouble snowballed into a mass case of hysteria where everyone seemed to be accused of being witches.
Elizabeth Proctor (Joan Allen), the wife of John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), is one of the people accused of being a witch. Proctor is a poor farmer who commits adultery with Abigail. Proctor knows that Abigail accused his wife of being a witch because she still had feelings for him. Knowing this Proctor will fight against the group of girls, and Judge Danforth’s (Paul Scofield) Supreme court of the province and he will even go as far as soiling his good name in the village in order save his wife.
The Crucible does a magnificent job of following Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. The way the movie ends is quite interesting as well. In the play, it ends with Reverend Hale (Rob Campbell) crying after Proctor decides not to confess that he is a witch and is taken away to be hung giving a ambiguous and . In the movie, however, it ends after three people (Rebecca Nurse (Elizabeth Lawrence), Martha Corey (Mary Pat Gleason), and Proctor) are hung. The interesting part about this ending is that it really gives its viewers a sense of how real and horrible the Salem witch trials were.
The set and costumes also resembled 17th century Salem. A lot of the costumes are used again over the course of many days. This is done in order to portray how often people bathed the 17th century. Also when Proctor had to sit in a prison cell he could not change his clothes or take a bath. Another way to show how many days Proctor was in the cell is that his teeth become extremely yellow. The set and props were also representative of the 17th century like the sickle, horse and buggy, homes etc.
The actors did a fantastic job. The best performances, however, were given by Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Scofield. Lewis’ best moment in the movie is in the scene when Danforth tries to get Proctor to confess that he is a witch. Lewis fills the scene with so much emotion that the audience can really feel Proctor’s plight. Scofield, who plays stern and strong Danforth, magnificently judges in his court leaving the impression that he is the judge and the jury. The outstanding performances of Lewis and Scofield are sometimes, nonetheless, set back by the somewhat overacting of Joan Allen. Allen seems have only one expression throughout the entire film. This makes some of the scene she is in unrealistic and superficial.
Overall, The Crucible is an incredible film and does a marvelous job in capturing the essence of the plight of the people Salem during the witch trials of the 1690s.