Monday, October 8, 2012

The Crucible (1996) Review

I know I haven't posted in a while, but here's a review I did for English. For now, I do not plan on updating this blog anymore so enjoy!

The Crucible Movie Review
Based on the 1952 play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible is centered around the Salem witch trials of 1692. After Abigail Williams, a wily and vengeful girl accuses the townspeople of being witches to cover up her own indiscretions, mass hysteria breaks out in Salem in the form of a witch hunt. Many are no longer safe as the accusers begin to target their rivals. When Abigail Williams’ (Winona Ryder) plan to get her lover, John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), back by accusing his wife fails, she disappears only to leave them to their fate. Although The Crucible may drag on sometimes, fantastic actors and the integration of new scenes make the film worthwhile.

First of all, the leading aspect of the movie is it’s characters. The actors accurately and effectively embody their characters. Winona Ryder transforms the cruel, spiteful Abigail Williams into a three-dimensional, manipulative girl. Her portrayal of Abigail is accurate and at the same time, even more dramatic than the character in the play. Similarly, Joan Allen transforms Elizabeth Proctor from a initially helpless wife to a woman with an important and much bigger role in Proctor’s life. When she says to Reverend Hale, “He has his goodness now, and God forbid I take it from him”, it is undoubtedly the best depiction of Elizabeth’s power to save Proctor’s life and of Allen’s portrayal of her. Both Allen and Ryder drive the plot with their strong and passionate acting.

In addition to a compelling cast, the elements that make the movie excellent is the integration of the setting and scenes not included in Arthur Miller’s play. From originally only having three main settings, the director, Nicholas Hytner, expertly incorporates different location without making the plot too jumbled or confusing. Instead, it adds visual excitement to the movie as well as clarify and accentuate events that happened offscreen in the play. For example, it is much more interesting to watch the scenes where Proctor initially approaches Abigail and the scene when Proctor and Elizabeth talk on the cliff due to the different locations. Also, the opening forest scene and the scene where Abigail stabs herself with a needle is successfully able to emphasize the escalating hysteria and hypocrisy of the accusers. These elements greatly enhance the viewing pleasure of the movie and clearly give the viewer a better sense of the insanity and desperation of the young girls.

At times, the plot is heavy and slow. An example of this is in the courtroom, when Francis Nurse (Tom McDermott) and Giles Corey (Peter Vaughan) present a list of the accused to the judges. The lack of action and constant courtroom-talk drags the scene too long, leaving the viewer bored and uninterested. Furthermore, it takes too long for Proctor to make his point at the end when he decides not to betray his friends and trade his name for his life. Scenes like these bog the story down and can only be revived by the excellent acting in the following moments.

Overall, the powerful cast and innovative scene integration makes this adaption a must-see. The cast transforms Miller’s words into an amazing performance that  showcases the characters in a manner that cannot be captured by anyone else. Additionally, the new scenes and locations made the movie clear to understand and stunning to watch. Despite some sluggish and boring moments, The Crucible is a movie that is made captivating by all of these elements of this adaptation.