Melting Pot of Injustice…The Crucible

How utterly disgusting the misuse of power, the deceit of people and the abuse of innocence.

That is how I found The Crucible (1996). Don’t get me wrong…not the movie being disgusting but what people are capable of. All for their own agenda. How they destroy the lives of good and innocent people. The reasons are numerous….some for revenge, some in the name of higher institutions, others just to save their own lives because they’ve been pulled into this vicious circle.

The story is set during the Salem witch-hunts in the period of 1692 to 1693. What starts as a group of girls dancing around a fire in the forest while “casting love spells” for those they dream of, becomes a hysterical hunt for anyone and everyone even looking in the wrong direction or saying the wrong word at the wrong time. Little do these girls know what their revelry has unleashed as almost every family in the village has some charge of witchcraft against them. Where formerly the community lived in harmony and happiness (with the usual village politics), even those who are know for their goodness suddenly become suspects and scapegoats for other’s problems, greed or misdoings. Anyone who is different is prejudiced. Anyone who was honest now lies to stay alive.

I’d read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible many years ago at high school and remember enjoying it. Although, I barely remembered the story. I’d been meaning to watch this for ages and starring one of my favourite actors, Daniel Day-Lewis, I no longer had an excuse. One seeing the opening credits I was happy to see that Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay. I always appreciate that in movies because it means the story stays close to what the author envisages. Or, at least wants to be shown in the movie. This certainly paid off in this case as Arthur Miller was nominated for both an Academy Award for “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” and BAFTA Award for “Best Screenplay – Adapted”. The movie also received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations in other categories and won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor.

The play won the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play. So wow, really quite an achievement for both arts in which it has been presented.

The movie is very powerful and, although I’m not a sensitive person, I found it extremely exhausting to watch. I felt frustrated and disgusted by the characters and wished the “authorities” could just come to their senses and see what was really going on. And wished that those who stood up and tried to challenge the system wouldn’t be shut down. And that people can just be accepted for who they are even if they are different. I can’t remember being that upset with society back at school when reading it. Maybe it is because in the movie the atrocities are visual. Or that time has changed my outlook.

As you already know, the story and screenplay were written by Arthur Miller and is brought to life by a stellar cast of Daniel Day-Lewis, Joan Allen, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Rob Campbell, Jeffrey Jones and many more. Well worth a watch but not light fare.

For other movies that are based on Tony Award winning plays, head on over to Taking Up Room for her Tony Edition of The Fourth Broadway Bound Blogathon over here: here.

 

11 comments

  1. Catherine, I enjoyed reading your write-up of THE CRUCIBLE(filmed 1995, released 1996). I haven’t viewed this movie, but I read Arthur Miller’s play decades ago. Yes, without a doubt, the 1952-53 play, or this movie, isn’t light fare. First and foremost it isn’t really about witches, either. THE CRUCIBLE was and is an allegory. By 1950, Miller began to think of writing about the hunt for Communists in the United States of America. He was motivated in his belief that some great part of a paralysis that had set in among many liberals, who despite their discomfort with what they thought were violations of civil rights, were fearful of being identified as covert Communists if they should protest too strongly.

    The Post-World War II years of the late 1940’s and 1950’s were the years of the Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC), which was chaired by Edward J. Hart, Democrat of New Jersey. The HUAC was an investigative committee created to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Fascist or Communist ties. Over in the US Senate there was the Government Operations Committee and its Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which was chaired by Joseph R. McCarthy Republican of Wisconsin. The events of THE CRUCIBLE, set in the early 1690’s, parallel this period in USA History.

    I’m not going to get political on your wonderful blog site, because there are other sites where that can be done. For anyone interested, here is what Arthur Miller wrote in explaining why he wrote THE CRUCIBLE. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1996/10/21/why-i-wrote-the-crucible

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thanks Walter. Always enjoy your fantastic input.
      Thanks so much for the link too – very interesting read.
      Have a lovely evening,
      Catherine

      PS: am about 30 minutes into Gunslinger and enjoying it.

      Like

      1. Catherine, I do hope that you enjoy GUNSLINGER(1956). Also, check out HELLFIRE(filmed 1948, released 1949). Marie Windsor is really good.

        Take care, Walter S.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely agree that this play is sobering–human nature can be so evil. I had to study this play for a class in college, and I remember no one was smiling while we talked about it. Amazing piece of work, though. Thanks again for joining the blogathon with this great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. I actually watched a good documentary about the Salem witch-hunts a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really know anything about the shocking events before than. Somehow The Crucible has escaped my notice over the years. I hadn’t realised Daniel and Winona had appeared in a film together before The Age of Innocence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure the documentary was interesting. Do you remember what it was called?
      On the „witches“ of Europe there is a really good, but obviously tragic, book called The Last Witch about Anna Göldin, a Swiss lady and the last to be executed in Europe for witchcraft. Not sure if it is available in English though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was part of a paranormal investigation series called Haunted Towns. It’s not the sort of thing I’d normally watch but I found the subject matter interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

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