The Scarlet Letter
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Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel of hypocrisy among America's pilgrims was brought to the screen by director Roland Joffe in this 1995 feature. Demi Moore stars as Hester Prynne, a new arrival to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1666. Prynne, who interacts freely with slaves and Quakers and wears revealing garb, is something of a free thinker and off-putting to the uptight locals. She awaits the arrival of her husband, Roger (Robert Duvall), but he is reported killed. One person who does not find Prynne unsettling is the new preacher, Arthur Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman). A torrid… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 14%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

""Freely adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne," the credits say cautiously. I'll say."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"If you've read the book you won't know the ending. Let's just say that Indians with flaming arrows come to the rescue. They manage to keep a straight face, which is more than anyone in the audience will be able to do."
‑ Caryn James, New York Times
"Slaughter, sin, and sex in classic-turned-movie misfire."
‑ Charles Cassady, Common Sense Media
"Despite the cast taking themselves very seriously indeed, The Scarlet Letter is a great comic turn, complete with cod-accents and other period jiggery-pokery."
‑ , Film4
"A hysterically incompetent camp classic, highly recommended for English department faculty parties."
‑ Rob Vaux, Flipside Movie Emporium
"A very '90s take on a 1660s tale written in 1850, as a picture of early colonial life it's about as convincing as Pocahontas."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"This is a well-acted, beautiful movie."
‑ Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle
"For all the talent on display, this is a waste of movie."
‑ , Empire Magazine
"Oh, Roland Joffé, thy free adaptation of the Hawthorne classic didst produce abudant derisive laughter. Didst thou once direct 'The Killing Fields?'"
‑ Dan Lybarger, Nitrate Online
"Love the book or hate it, but no novel deserves the shabby treatment that director Roland Joffé and screenwriter Douglas Day Stewart have given the classic novel."
‑ Michael Dequina,
"Not only does the film bear little resemblance to the source novel, but it's cluttered with ridiculous symbolism."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"Though it's unclear what the audience would be for a faithful rendition of the Hawthorne novel, the question of who would ever want to see this one is murkier still."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Rage, love, defiance, confusion, fear -- Moore just sticks out her chin and makes her eyes brim with tears. She's the stolidly immovable object at the film's center, and there's no getting around her."
‑ Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide's Movie Guide
"For anyone who's ever wondered why Hawthorne left out the mute servants, red cockatoos, and rolls in the proverbial hay. As Hawthorne himself would say: "Ignominious!""
‑ Nick Davis, Nick's Flick Picks
"Corny, heavy-handed, but definitely romantic, The Scarlet Letter is a mindless piece of historical amusement."
‑ Jeanne Aufmuth, Palo Alto Weekly
More reviews for The Scarlet Letter on Rotten Tomatoes