The Crucible

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.