The Crucible
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When Arthur Miller's play The Crucible was first staged in 1953, it was widely acclaimed as a metaphor for the recklessness of Joseph McCarthy and his spurious crusade against communism. In its 1996 screen adaptation (scripted by Miller), the tone has been adjusted somewhat and plays as a warning against the dangers of political and religious extremism of all kinds. After a group of young women is accused of witchcraft in the Puritan community of Salem, Mass. in 1692, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) is held in suspicion of practicing magic. Abigail in turn levels charges against John… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Then there's always Mr. Scofield, bringing an almost unbearable, yet entirely believable, lightness of spirit to his loathsome character. It's a bold stroke by a great actor, making zealotry and evil seem positively beneficent."
‑ Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"Too bad, though, that The Crucible fails to probe deeper into the sexual, religious, and political conditions that can give false accusations so much power -- even today."
‑ Misha Berson, Seattle Times
"A McCarthy-era retelling of the Salem witch trials, Arthur Miller's 1953 play is a literary classic, but this adap falls short."
‑ Andrew Lowry, Total Film
"The story is unchanged, but its theme relates surprisingly well to today's versions of the bias and scapegoating that Miller rightly deplores."
‑ David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"It couldn't be more timely or relevant."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"I recommend Hytner's movie highly, but a part of me resists a work that makes the audience feel as noble in our moral certainty as the characters it invites us to deplore. Some part of its power seems borrowed from the thing it hates."
‑ David Ansen, Newsweek
"Arthur Miller's screenplay keeps everything nice and faithful to the period, and the actors have the dirt on their hands to prove it. The movie lacks polish as well, and that's to everyone's benefit."
‑ Stephen Thompson, AV Club
"The story's sickening spiral into madness is preserved."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"The physical production of the film is so authentic and compelling, you can't get beyond it, not for a second."
‑ Stephen Hunter, Baltimore Sun
"Perfectly captures the air of hysteria and paranoia."
‑ Michael Dequina,
"Her cheeks flush, her winsome beauty seared with erotic rage, Ryder exposes the real roots of the piece. Forget McCarthyism; The Crucible is a colonial Fatal Attraction."
‑ Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
"I very much admire how Hytner... keeps the pace swift and doesn't fetishize the 17th-century decors and clothes. But I can't help feeling that in more ways than one, The Crucible is a period piece."
‑ Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
"An intelligent and gripping epic."
‑ , Film4
"The movie version reveals the play as what it always was: a melodrama about a married guy who shouldn't have dallied with a vengeful girl."
‑ Rob Gonsalves,
"Arthur Miller's story of hysteria, persecution and social injustice, is classy and powerful with some marvelous acting."
‑ Judith Egerton, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
More reviews for The Crucible on Rotten Tomatoes