Directed by Nicholas Hynter
Starring Demi Moore, Daniel Day Lewis, Joan Allen, and Winona Ryder
The most famous adaptation of The Crucible is a 1996 film starring Daniel Day-Lewis as John Proctor, Joan Allen as Elizabeth, and Winona Ryder as Abigail. In one of his last roles before his death, the great British actor Paul Scofield played Danforth, and Charlayne Woodward played Tituba. Nicholas Hynter directed. The film was critically praised, including nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (for Joan Allen’s performance) at the 1996 Oscars, although it was not commercially successful. This movie adaptation is quite similar to the play, and has found a wide audience in high school and college classrooms. The script was by Arthur Miller himself, who was 81 years old at the time. He adapted the play, first performed on Broadway in 1953, into the screenplay 43 years later. It was the last of Miller’s works to be produced, since his final play, Broken Glass, opened on Broadway in 1994.
The film adaptation was mostly filmed on location on Hog Island, Massachusetts, where the village of Salem was recreated. Day-Lewis even build the farmhouse the Proctors lived in, and learned to use many of the farm tools that his character would have employed in his work. Many of the actors, including Day-Lewis, chose not to bathe over the course of the month-long shoot to better resemble the lifestyle of the people of Salem in 1692. While the film’s script closely resembles the play, Miller did cut some lines. The courtroom scene is shorter, and the ending confrontation between Proctor and Danforth is as well. Miller also restored some of the cut second scene of the second act between John and Abigail in the woods. The film concludes with the execution of Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor, among others. As they die, the characters recite the Lord’s Prayer – proof to the Puritans that they could not be witches.