THE CRUCIBLE

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Joan Allen, Bruce Davison, Rob Campbell, Jeffrey Jones. Written by Arthur Miller. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Rated PG-13 for adult themes, brief nudity.

"The Crucible" is a flawless adaptation of Arthur Millerís play about the Salem witch trials of 1692. And why shouldnít it be, with Miller himself doing the translation to screen? This powerful story stands as a warning to future generations in addition to providing great drama for the current one.

Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), a comely teenage girl, and her friends are caught dancing in the woods late one night by Reverend Parris (Bruce Davison). The next morning, two of the girls are taken ill by a mysterious malady. When no medical reasons for their infirmity can be found, talk turns to witchery and the hand of Satan. In order to hide their own indiscretion, the girls band together in declaring that the Devil is, indeed, loose in Salem.

They proclaim that they witnessed various adults cavorting with the Prince of Darkness and said adults are subsequently convicted of the crime of witchcraft. Set to hang, their lives will only be spared if they confess of their evil ways and repent. John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis), an honest and respected farmer, refuses to sully his name. In the recent past he committed adultery with Abigail and now lives to regret it because she is intent on destroying Johnís wife, Elizabeth (Joan Allen). Judge Danforth (Paul Scofield) is called to Salem to preside over the trials, while the only official voice of reason, Reverend Hale (Rob Campbell), is increasingly of the belief that the girls are merely pretending to see unholy visions.

This is drama at its most potent and intelligent. Filled with solid, Oscar-caliber performances and a haunting message, "The Crucible" is an absolute must-see film.


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