The Crucible…Straight to DVD
The movie version of Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” probably should have gone straight to DVD, or VHS. The added scenes took away from the mystery of the play, the costumes and music were horrible and the acting of the vast majority of the characters was about on par with day time soap.
The added scene in the movie version I feel like really took away from the play, instead of allowing the audience to interpret what happened they more directly told you how to think and feel about the play. The biggest offender in my opinion was the opening scene of the movie. This scene showed what happened in the woods. I feel like showing the audience what actually happened made the rest of the film not as interesting because there was not as much mystery as to what actually went on as there was in the play. The other scene that really bothered me was when Abby went to go see John Proctor. I felt like that scene was completely uncalled for. It seemed as an effort to humanize Abby which I felt was completely uncalled for given that the whole film is about Abby condemning citizens of Salem to death.
However there were a couple added scenes that I thought benefited the movie. The scene of Abby trying to accuse Hale’s wife of being a witch really showed how far into the lie of accusing people. The fact that she was willing to say some woman she didn’t know to get revenge on Hale really showed how messed up she was. Also the scene with Abby walking in the street and everyone moving away from her was of benefit to the movie. The choice to show how the town was now afraid of Abby because they knew the power she wielded I thought was a very good choice.
Another complaint I had was the costumes and music in the film. Almost all the costumes were based around the old stereotype that Puritans always wore black. After doing research earlier I found out that Puritans only wore all black on Sundays and could wear all sorts of colors on the other days of the week. I think that the costume design could have made the film much more interesting. By doing a more colorful and buckles and big hats they could of helped open peoples eye and break a common stereotypes held by many Americans. The film’s music seemed way over top and seemed to only detract from the film. Rather than having a score that stayed as a backdrop the score in The Crucible used all the overused musical tricks. When the Proctors were talking on the bluff before Proctor was taken away the violins swelled to a crescendo as if to say, “SOMETHING DRAMATIC IS GOING TO HAPPEN.” I just felt insulted that they producers thought they had to put forth such a blatant sign as if to show us that something sad and emotional was taking place.
My main problem with the film was the quality of the acting. I thought really all the actors were pretty bad with one exception. The only convincing bit of acting was Daniel Day-Lewis as Proctor. The raw energy although at times was a bit overpowering you could feel his character. He really sold you the character of Proctor. From his performance you could tell how the strength of Proctors personality dwarfed over all others in Salem. I realize that in the play Proctor was supposed to be stronger and more noticeable but that does not give an excuse for the poor showing of the other actors. Judge Danforth sticks out as a particularly weak role. He seemed to show absolutely no emotion. Although maybe that’s what was wanted, but in the play I picked up the vibe that he was a serious yet wise man. Watching the movie however I felt like I was watching a rock with hardly any expression. Another character I was disappointed with was Elizabeth Proctor. I know that in the book at the end they go from a strained relationship to an almost peaceful harmony between them. However I felt like from the beginning to the end of the movie Elizabeth showed just about the same amount of love towards John, at least in her body language. The character of Hale was also disappointing. Maybe I’m not being fair on this one, but he casted the image of a creeper maybe it’s just the flowing locks of hair. I imagined Hale more as a quiet scholar torn between wanting to be a celebrity and wanting to stick to the truth. Towards the end of the film he began to open up but it was a little too late in my opinion.
All in all I would say the film version of The Crucible did not come close to doing justice to the original version. If the film had been released today I would be willing to bet that it would have gone straight to DVD. Although it had a few bright spots such as Daniel Day-Lewis overall I would say this film was very disappointing. To those that haven’t read or seen either I would highly recommend the book but stay away from the film.