The Crucible

FoxVideo; rental pricing
Feature; PG-13
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Cast: Winona Ryder, Daniel Day-Lewis and Joan Allen

Though set in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, Miller's drama remains timeless. This faithful film adaptation builds on the famous allegory of McCarthyism to reflect our current, and no less virulent, blend of media-fed group-think and religious fundamentalism. Abigail Williams (Ryder) and her circle of friends create a terror of demons when they are caught conducting a haunting ritual to cast love spells, with Williams fixing her sights on former lover John Proctor (Day-Lewis). When put on trial, Williams sees it as a spiteful opportunity to accuse Proctor's wife, Elizabeth (Allen), of witchcraft. The accusations send the community into a frenzy of betrayal and vengeance. Hytner's spare setting allows Miller's plainspoken, yet powerful, language to work to chilling effect.