The Crucible

It's hard to believe this is the first English language feature version of Arthur Miller's play about the paranoia, prejudice and hysteria that produced the Salem witch trials. But it is, and British director Nicholas Hytner appears to have resisted all impulses to mess it up. If the result is occasionally a bit stagy, it hardly matters: The story's sickening...read more

Rating:

It's hard to believe this is the first English language feature version of Arthur Miller's play about the paranoia, prejudice and hysteria that produced the Salem witch trials. But it is, and British director Nicholas Hytner appears to have resisted all impulses to mess it

up. If the result is occasionally a bit stagy, it hardly matters: The story's sickening spiral into madness is preserved, and watching the noose of lies woven by a vindictive teenager (Winona Ryder) strangle a whole community is as morbidly fascinating as ever -- like watching a clutch of mice

swallowed up by a snake, one by one. Hytner's cast is uneven: Ryder tries hard, but never seems at home in the skin of Abigail Williams, and Daniel Day-Lewis never misses an opportunity to bare his manly chest. Joan Allen -- playing goody-two-shoes Elizabeth Proctor -- is the standout: She gives

Proctor both spine and a desperate, late-blooming awareness that her own unyielding righteousness has helped bring about her family's destruction. Her performance is so true it's almost painful. It used to be you could hardly see Arthur Miller's play for the allegory: Puritan witch-hunting equaled

the McCarthy-era obsession with Commies polluting our precious essences. Now you can hardly see it for its prescience: Who could have foreseen that right-wing religious mania would have 1990s America in a lather over satanic child abuse, or that the cult of victimization would sanctify the Abigail

Williamses of today?

The 25 Best Shows of the Decade

This list is unimpeachable

Discover Now!
Cord-Cutting Guide. Credit: Robert Rodriguez / TV Guide
How to Cut Cable

How to stream the shows and sports you love

Discover Now!

My News

Sign up and add shows to get the latest updates about your favorite shows - Start Now