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"THE CRUCIBLE"
(1996) (Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Minor Moderate Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Mild None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate None Minor Mild Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A group of teenage girls accuses others of dealing with the devil.
PLOT:
It's the year 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts and Abigail Williams (WINONA RYDER) and her other teenage friends have gathered to cast spells on the boys they like. While not really witches, Abigail intends to do whatever she can to hex Elizabeth Proctor (JOAN ALLEN), the wife of John (DANIEL DAY-LEWIS) with whom Abigail had an affair. She and a younger girl are caught, however, by her uncle, the Reverend Parris (BRUCE DAVISON), and returned home where the little girl won't come out of a mysterious trance. The locals call in Reverend Hale (ROB CAMPBELL), a man well versed in the ways of the devil, to heal the girl. But when she comes to and starts spouting off about her dead mother, Abigail acts like she's seen the devil herself. Soon all of the girls join her in a mass hysteria and the town is jumping with talk of the devil. The girls follow Abigails' lead as she sets out to destroy others, including Elizabeth, so that she can have John back. He's willing to give up his life, however, to save his wife's, and to stand up for what he believes in. And so as the witch trials begin, John must plead his case before the high and mighty Judge John Danforth (PAUL SCOFIELD) who is determined to drive witches and their like from every square inch of Massachusetts.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Younger kids won't, and the only reason teens might is to see either Ryder or Day-Lewis.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For intense depiction of the Salem witch trials.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • DANIEL DAY-LEWIS plays a man who stands up for what he believes is right and risks his own life to save his wife's. He did, however, have sex with Abigail, a young teenager at the time.
  • WINONA RYDER plays a girl who sleeps with an older man and becomes so enamored of him that she'll do anything to get him back. This includes lying to such a degree that people's lives are destroyed.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 8 out of 10
    As moving and powerful as ever, this filmed version of Arthur Miller's play boasts an impressive cast delivering tremendous performances. Daniel Day-Lewis is superb once again in a role that relies heavily on convincingly delivering dialogue instead of action. Ryder is perfect as the spurned lover who gets wrapped up in her delusion world. And Allen and Scofield are impressive in their respective roles. The movie doesn't seem as confined as some stage play adaptions do and thus the visuals impart as much mood as the somber plot. While the hard-hitting analogy to the 1950's witch hunt of McCarthyism isn't as strongly recognized today as it was then, that in no way diminishes the impact of the story. It would have been hard to have gone wrong with this story and cast and director Nicholas Hytner certainly doesn't. We give this impressive performance a big 8 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    There isn't a great deal to object to in this film. There's a little nudity early on where a teenage girl's bare breasts and butt are briefly seen. It's implied that John and Abigail had an affair and in two different scenes, Abigail places her hand on John's crotch and later places his on hers. There are several hangings, but they're rather brief and not very graphic. There is a lot of talk about the devil and witchcraft, so those who are concerned with those topics should take note. The movie could certainly be a starting point for discussions about McCarthyism and group hysteria that have occurred over the years. While kids probably won't flock to see this one, we suggest you read through the scene listings if they, or you, want to see this film.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • The men appear to drink wine in a few scenes.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Abigail grabs a rooster and smashes it to the ground and then tastes and smears its blood on her face.
  • There's a little bit of blood on Abigail's dress from where she pulls a small, but sharp object.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Abigail and the other girls lie about the townspeople being involved with the devil. Abigail does it for her own good, while the girls blindly follow her as their leader.
  • John had an affair with Abigail when his wife was sick for a prolonged period.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • A few of the scenes where the girls act like they're seeing the devil or other evil spirits might be scary to younger kids (due to the panicked reactions of the girls), but the scenes themselves aren't overly scary.
  • Some people also might find the scenes where people are being hanged as tense.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Some guards are seen carrying muskets.
  • A knife is stabbed into Reverend Parris' door as a warning to him.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrase: "Harlot," and "Whore."
  • A frog is thrown into a boiling kettle during the girls' night of dabbling in witchcraft.
  • The girls lie about the townspeople being involved with the devil.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's a mild amount of suspenseful music in several scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 2 damns and 2 uses of "For God's sake," and 1 use each of "Dear Lord," and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Abigail and a group of girls dance around a fire as they try to cast spells on the boys they like. One of them gets caught up in the mood and removes her dress. Her bare breasts are briefly seen twice as is her bare butt.
  • It's suggested that Abigail and John had an affair, but that he's called it off. Abigail still wants him, however, and once puts her hand on his crotch when kissing him, and another time puts his hand on hers. Both times he quickly stops her.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Some family members must deal with their loved ones being imprisoned and/or hanged.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Witchcraft and talk of the devil.
  • The McCarthy communist trials compared to the Salem with craft trials.
  • After John is accused of dealing with the devil he says "God is dead" referring to the breakdown of the Church that would allow the witch hunt to go on and accuse so many innocent people.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Abigail grabs a rooster and smashes it to the ground and then tastes and smears its blood on her face.
  • Reverend Parris smacks Abigail.
  • Abigail smacks the little girl who was in the trance and then threatens her to stop the theatrics.
  • The family slave who led the girl's foray into witchcraft is lashed for doing so.
  • John prepares to hit Mary, the girl who works for his family, with a belt for being involved with the lie about the witchcraft.
  • John throws Abigail to the ground after she tries to seduce him by putting his hand on her crotch.
  • John runs and pulls a man from the prison cart that is hauling away his wife.
  • One man reaches over to strangle another in court, but is quickly stopped.
  • Several people are hanged, but none of it's too graphic (some swinging feet and only one quick view of the actual event seen in its entirety).
  • A man is crushed to death by the weight of rocks placed on him for punishment for not giving out the name of a witness.
  • A knife is stabbed into Reverend Parris' door as a warning.



  • Reviewed December 18, 1996

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