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Kuang He

Period 4 Schutt
Movie Review: The Crucible
12 November 2009

As a play, The Crucible worked on issues of sin, self-interest, revenge, reputation

and deceit. In the movie, leading actors Day-Lewis and Ryder create a dynamic contrast

among each issue, while Allen helps to bring out some of the love and loyalty that still

remained despite the hysteria in the society. Hytner adds many scenes of the hysteria that

plagues Salem during the witch trials. Director Nicholas Hytner captures the important

points from the play, but also emphasizes on how hysteria can affect a society; his

characters are similarly portrayed if not to a greater extent with excellent acting and

added scenes.

The movie follows the story very closely, but adds in many scenes of people

running in panic and hysteria during the whole witch-trials. Running in fear is shown not

more than five minutes into the movie; the girls run from the fear of Parris catching them

after seeing them dance in the forest. During the court proceedings, the society runs along

with Abigail in fear of the “evil spirits” that will hurt them. He takes advantage that he is

shooting a movie and can use many cameos to help create a sense of chaos, while a play

is limited to only the actors speaking on stage. While there seems to be excessive running

throughout the movie, it is understandable why Hytner chooses to include his extra

scenes. Hytner believes that hysteria is what ultimately causes many to think and act

irrationally, and what leads to the society’s downfall. By the end of the movie, the society

becomes very solemn and the lighting becomes rather dark and grey. Despite his added

point on hysteria, he is able to keep the emphasis on issues seen in the play. The only two

places throughout the whole movie that keeps multiple lines in the play completely intact
are two of Proctor’s speeches, “vengeance is walking Salem” and “because it is my

name”, dealing with revenge and reputation respectively. His decision to keep only these

two places completely the same only gives each more emphasis and importance, and

Proctor delivers Hytner’s intentions very well.

Furthermore Hytner’s actors effectively convey the contrast in character between

Abigail and Proctor, while supporting actress Joan Allen shows Elizabeth’s deep love,

trust, and loyalty in John. Abigail is very manipulative in the movie by making others

feel she has suffered the most and believe what she says. The movie shows the actual

scene of Abigail stabbing herself with the needle to dismiss any possibilities in the play

that she was not clever enough. Proctor, however, is very honest with himself. He refuses

to fall for adultery again as seen in the extra scenes of his encounters with Abigail, and

questions “How can I possibly mark the scaffold like a saint?” Both of their characters

are portrayed similarly as in the play. However, Elizabeth’s character is shown to a

greater extent. The bright lighting during the moving scene with Elizabeth and Proctor

near the end contrasts with the grayness of the society. The love and tenderness of

Elizabeth distinguishes herself from some of the spiteful and vengeful others in the


The director’s emphasis of the issues raised in The Crucible is vividly portrayed

throughout the movie; his additional scenes do not take away from each importance but

does bring out some characters more than seen in the play. Sin, manipulation, and

revenge remain integral issues in the movie, but the issue of hysteria is worked on as

well. Indeed, those those are able to better themselves against these issues like John and

Elizabeth rise to the top of the crucible, while those that fail will sink.