The Crucible - Film Review


The Crucible: A Film Review Who'd have thought that simple dancing could cause so much chaos in a small town. This is precisely what happens in the film The Crucible (Nicholas Hytner, 1996), which was originally written as a play by Arthur Miller. This story is based on actual events, which helps in showing the accuracy of the events. The story takes place in Salem in 1692, during the Salem witch trials. The story starts when a group of young girls, particularly one named Abigail, are caught dancing around a fire in the woods by the town preacher, Samuel Parris. In an effort to avoid getting in trouble, the girls begin to make accusations against the townspeople, saying that these people are witches who forced them to dance. As the hysteria grows in Salem, people begin to question their own neighbors, simply out of spite and vengeance, among other things. The Crucible is certainly historically accurate in it's portrayal of the townspeople's beliefs and attitudes. It is a film that should be seen to view the way people were in the seventeenth century. Fear was probably the biggest reason for all of the happenings. Fear is what got the girls started on their accusations, as they were afraid to get in trouble. They knew that if they were thought to be conjuring spirits, they would be hung. The townspeople were also afraid, especially of those who were different. They felt that they must be rid of anyone who disagreed with their pg 2 beliefs. Just look at how the Puritans treated the Indians. They feared the Native Americans because their beliefs were different than their own. Also, the main reason that people were accused in the first place, is because when Tituba was being questioned, they were asking if she saw Sara Good and Sara Osborne with the Devil. Of course she said yes, they were threatening to kill her. Another example of fear in the village, is the fear of accepting your own actions and taking responsibility. The Puritans believed in predestination, and if the girls were dancing just to dance, and not because the Devil took them from their path to God, the townspeople would then have to take the responsibility for that, as it would be thier fault for letting these girls go astray. They were also afraid of change. Change in their beliefs would shut down the entire town, because it was built mainly on their ideology. For the Puritans, their beliefs were what brought them to America, and if they didn't have their beliefs, what would they have had? The town of Salem was a Puritan town, and they had very strict beliefs. There were certain things, such as dancing, that just weren't done, as they were seen to be related to the Devil. When things such as dancing occured, the incident was seen in direct relation to dealings with the Devil. "Someone called the Devil in that forest!" This was the immediate reaction made by reverend Hale, who was called to the village to examine the accused and afflicted. It is no wonder that these girls started to make accusations against others, as they were afraid to be accused of witchcraft themselves. Two of the girls were so frightened, that they pretended to be in an unwakeable sleep. The belief in the Devil shown in this film shows the historical accuracy. This is true because such strong beliefs in evil pg 3 and the Devil were certainly recorded, such as the belief that because the Native Americans were not Christian, they must be evil. Another strong and influential feeling, was the feeling of judgement. Judgement by God, as well as by others. It is a well known fact that the Puritans judged their lives by how faithful they were to God, and by how pure they were. This is also shown in The Crucible. For example, Elizabeth Proctor, the wife of John Proctor, who had an affair with Abigail, says to him, "The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you." In this quote, she is referring to the affair, and how he can not forgive himself for his own sins. Another judgement made is on Tituba, a black slave of Rev. Parris' from Barbados. She was present in the woods when the dancing occurred, and because she was from what was thought