The Crucible (1996 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

The Crucible
Thecruciblemovie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNicholas Hytner
Produced byRobert A. Miller
David V. Picker
Screenplay byArthur Miller
Based onThe Crucible 
by Arthur Miller
StarringDaniel Day-Lewis
Winona Ryder
Paul Scofield
Joan Allen
Jeffrey Jones
Peter Vaughan
Music byGeorge Fenton
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byTariq Anwar
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • November 27, 1996 (1996-11-27)
Running time124 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million
Box office$7,343,114[1]
 
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the film by Nicholas Hytner. For the film by Raymond Rouleau, see The Crucible (1957 film).
The Crucible
Thecruciblemovie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNicholas Hytner
Produced byRobert A. Miller
David V. Picker
Screenplay byArthur Miller
Based onThe Crucible 
by Arthur Miller
StarringDaniel Day-Lewis
Winona Ryder
Paul Scofield
Joan Allen
Jeffrey Jones
Peter Vaughan
Music byGeorge Fenton
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byTariq Anwar
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • November 27, 1996 (1996-11-27)
Running time124 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million
Box office$7,343,114[1]

The Crucible is a 1996 drama film written by Arthur Miller and based on his play of the same name. It was directed by Nicholas Hytner and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as John Proctor, Winona Ryder as Abigail Williams, Paul Scofield as Judge Thomas Danforth, and Joan Allen as Elizabeth Proctor. Much of the filming took place on Choate Island in Essex, Massachusetts.

Plot[edit]

Early morning in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, some young village girls meet in the woods with a Barbadian slave named Tituba (Charlayne Woodard). One of the girls, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), kills a chicken and drinks the blood, wishing for John Proctor's wife to die. They are surprised by Abigail's uncle, Reverend Samuel Parris (Bruce Davison), who discovers them. As the girls run away, Parris' daughter, Betty (Rachael Bella), falls over unconscious.

Parris questions Abigail about the events that took place in the woods; Betty will not awaken, nor will Ruth (Ashley Peldon), the daughter of Thomas and Ann Putnam (Jeffrey Jones and Frances Conroy), who was also dancing. This strikes Mrs. Putnam hard as she has had seven other children before Ruth who died at childbirth. The Parris house is also visited by Giles Corey (Peter Vaughan), who suspects that the children are just acting their sicknesses, and John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), with whom Abigail had an affair and whose wife she wants dead. Abigail still loves Proctor, but Proctor feels that he made a mistake and leaves her. The Putnams and Reverend Parris believe that Betty and Ruth are demonically possessed, so they call Reverend John Hale (Rob Campbell) from Beverly, to examine Betty. To save herself and the other girls from punishment, Abigail claims that Tituba was working with the devil. After a brutal whipping, Tituba confesses to being a witch. Struck by their newfound power, the other girls begin naming other women whom they "saw" with the devil. One of these is Elizabeth Proctor (Joan Allen), John Proctor's wife.

John, determined not to give his lover her vengeance, insists that his servant, Mary Warren (Karron Graves), one of the "afflicted" girls, testify in court that the witchcraft was faked. Although Mary Warren is frightened of Abigail, she eventually agrees. In the court, Francis Nurse gives a list of names of people who vouch for the accused; in response, the judges order that all on the list be arrested and brought in for questioning. Giles Corey insists that when Ruth Putnam accused Rebecca Nurse (Elizabeth Lawrence), Mr. Putnam was heard to tell his daughter that she had won him a "fine gift of land" (the Nurses' property was coveted by the Putnam family). Corey refuses to give the name of the person who heard this remark, and the judges order Corey's arrest. Meanwhile, Mary Warren insists that she only thought she saw spirits. John is told that Elizabeth is pregnant and will be spared from death until the baby is born, but he insists on charging the girls with false witness.

The other girls are called in and asked if they were lying about the witchcraft but cause a commotion, screaming that Mary Warren is putting a spell on them. In order to demonstrate that Abigail is not an innocent person, John confesses to having had an affair with her. He then claims that Abigail accused Elizabeth in order to get rid of her, so that she could marry him. Elizabeth is called in to see if the accusation is true. However, not knowing that John confessed and wanting to save his reputation, she lies. The girls turn the court further against the Proctors by screaming that Mary Warren is attacking them in the form of a yellow bird. To save herself from being hanged as a witch, Mary Warren accuses John. When asked if he will return to God, John despairingly yells "I say God is dead!" and is arrested as a witch.

On the day before John is to be hanged, Abigail attempts to convince the court that Reverend Hale's wife is also a witch; this plot backfires on her as the judges believe that a reverend's wife is too clean to be possessed by Satan. In time, the girls become outcasts and Abigail steals Reverend Parris's money to catch a ship to flee to Barbados, but not before asking John to go with her, telling him she never wished any of this on him. He refuses. On the eve of John's hanging, Parris, fearing that his execution will cause riots in Salem directed at him, allows John to meet with Elizabeth to see if she can make her husband "confess" to save his life. John agrees. The judges insist that the confession must be publicly displayed to prove his guilt and to convince others to confess, but John angrily tears up the confession, determined to keep his name pure for his sons. He is taken away to be hanged. Before being hanged, he, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey recite the Lord's Prayer.

Background[edit]

In 1952, Miller's friend Elia Kazan appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); fearful of being blacklisted from Hollywood, Kazan named eight members of the Group Theatre, including Clifford Odets, Paula Strasberg, Lillian Hellman, Joe Bromberg, and John Garfield, who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party. After speaking with Kazan about his testimony Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of 1692. The Crucible, in which Miller likened the situation with the House Un-American Activities Committee to the witch hunt in Salem in 1692, opened at the Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953.

Though widely considered only somewhat successful at the time of its initial release, today The Crucible is Miller's most frequently produced work throughout the world and was adapted into an opera by Robert Ward which won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1962. Miller and Kazan were close friends throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s (the latter had directed the original production of Miller's Death of a Salesman), but after Kazan's testimony to the HUAC, the pair's friendship ended, and they did not speak to each other for the next ten years. The HUAC took an interest in Miller himself not long after The Crucible opened, denying him a passport to attend the play's London opening in 1954. Later Miller was further checked out: when testimony came out that he misled the HUAC, he was sentenced to a $500 fine and a 30 day stay in jail. It was overturned after a court of appeals hearing. Kazan defended his own actions through his film On the Waterfront, in which a dockworker heroically testifies against a corrupt union boss.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The movie was not a box office success.[2]

Critical Reception[edit]

The review-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes gave it an overall "fresh" rating of 68%.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]