The Crucible (1957)

aka Les Sorcieres de Salem
Article 2339 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-21-2007
Posting Date: 1-7-2008
Directed by Raymond Rouleau
Featuring Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Mylene Demongeot

In the village of Salem, an ambitious cleric joins forces with a spurned mistress to start a witch hunt in Salem. This has a devastating impact on a farming family in the community.

This adaptation of the Arthur Miller play (too controversial for American film makers due to its implied condemnation of the McCarthy “witch hunt”) with a script by Jean-Paul Sartre is only marginally of fantastical content; though we do see a witch’s ceremony at one point, there is no reason to believe in the context of the movie that they have any real power. It’s mostly about the way fear and hysteria can twist and destroy the lives of all around it. The couple who falls victim to the accusation (played excellently by Simone Signoret and Yves Montand) are not saints, but they certainly aren’t guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. I’m not sure how true this movie is to either the play or the real life events they portray; in some ways, the plot seems a little too neat to be an accurate reflection of a true story. It is, however, powerful and gripping; you’re never quite sure what the fates of any of the characters will be. It’s a truly grim culture the characters reside in here; to many of them, God is a merciless, unforgiving presence just waiting for you to sin so he can damn you. It’s no wonder the preacher who brings on the witch hunts spends more time talking about the devil than God. This one is highly recommended.


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