The Crucible

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Based off a play by Arthur Miller that most likely everyone has read in high school, The Crucible is a two time Oscar nominated movie that tells a tale of villainy, hypocrisy, fear, and heroism. It draws a perfect picture of the terrifying events of the Salem Witch Trials during the 17th century and does a great job portraying the people involved. Hats off to the writer, Arthur Miller, for creating such an intelligent and carefully written screen play and also to director Nicholas Hytner(The Madness of King George) for continuing his eclectic work which is just as I expected. Although Miller and Hytner were very essential, a bigger contribution to the success of this movie is the tremendous and excellently chosen cast. Daniel Day Lewis, an Academy Award winner for My Left Foot, plays the role of the flawed hero and heartthrob, John Proctor. Winona Ryder continues her trademark role of a teenager as the town's evil harlot, Abigail Williams. It needs to be mentioned that without Ryder's powerful facial expressions, the movie wouldn't have been nowhere as intense. The last two cast members that amazed me are Joan Allen and Paul Scofield. Allen aims to give a serious but gentle performance of John's wife, Elizabeth and does just that while Scofield plays the sinister role of Judge Danforth beautifully. This movie would honestly be nothing without its superb cast members.

The film starts off in a dark forest where the teenage girls of Salem and Tituba, a black slave played by Charlayne Woodard, are chanting around a fire and reciting names of the boys they desire for a love spell when suddenly Abigail frightens the girls by drinking the rooster's blood used in the charm. We find out that John Proctor and Abigail had an affair but John broke it off to restore his marriage with Elizabeth which immediately leads us to the assumption that she drank the charm to kill Elizabeth Proctor. The morning after, two of the younger girls are in a coma-like sleep and everyone jumps to witchcraft as the reason. The girls are questioned by authority and blame Tituba, when that plan succeeds, the “afflicted” girls, including Mary Warren played by Karron Graves, follow Abigail's lead and start naming names of everyone they don't like. They are granted with a power that consists of accusing anyone of witchcraft and plummeting them to their death. Of course, the first on Abigail's list was none other then Goody Proctor.

The Proctors hear of Elizabeth's accusation, and Mary Warren wrestles with her conscience and eventually admits to having lied about all the accusations but ends up residing with Abigail. Mary Warren's actions force John to confess to lechery with Abigail. He gathers all the strength he has to force the confession from his mouth and Danforth brings Elizabeth into the court to confirm. With no knowledge that John admitted, Elizabeth does not confirm to protect her husband's good name. This is by far the best scene in the film.
Through the many accusations, the hypocrisy of the courts, and John Proctor's decision at the end, you discover that love can make you do crazy and extreme things, your name is the most important thing you have, and just how far someone will go to obtain vengeance.
The Crucible is a little over 2 hours long and is rated PG-13. The costume and make up used in the film are perfect and ideal. The camera shots are impressive and flow very nicely as the movie tells us the cause and effect of the Salem Witch Trials. The film ends with a haunting conclusion that will leave your mouth gaping at the fact that what began as a gathering in the forest led to the deaths of many innocent people.





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