The Crucible (1957)

Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Jean Debucourt, Alfred Adam,
Les sorcières de Salem is a movie starring Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, and Jean Debucourt. Salem, 1692. Industrious farmer, John Proctor, has twice made love to 17-year-old Abigail, a youth he and his wife have taken in. (His...
  • 7.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Arthur Miller, Jean-Paul Sartre, Marcel Aymé, Writer:
  • Raymond Rouleau, Director:
  • Raymond Borderie, Producer:
9 / 10

Impressive Unknown Film

In the beginning of the XVII Century, certain protestant sects left England heading to North America. In 1692, Salem, Massachusetts, was one of the most powerful and austere colonies.

After seven months of sexual abstinence of his frigid wife Elisabeth (Simone Signoret), the hard-worker farmer John Proctor (Yves Montand) has sex twice with the seventeen year-old virgin servant Abigail Williams (Mylène Demongeot) that is infatuated on him. When the other servant Mary Warren (Pascale Petit) sees John sneaking to Abigail's room during the night, she calls Elisabeth that sends Abigail back to her uncle's home.

When a group of women are accused of witchcraft, the manipulative and wicked Abigail manipulates Mary and other hysteric girls to revenge against Elisabeth, telling that they can see spirits and accusing the innocent Sarah Good and Elisabeth of witchcraft. The local Reverend Paris (Jean Debucourt), the Governor Danforth (Raymond Rouleau) and other politicians support the accusation expecting to increase their power against the repressed inhabitant. John and other dwellers are imprisoned and only a confession can save them from the gallows.

"Les Sorcières de Salem" a.k.a. "The Crucible" is an impressive unknown film based on a true story. The magnificent screenplay explores the theme of manipulation and fight for power by the powers that be in the XVII Century, the same way the McCarthyism did in the Twentieth Century or the lie about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq more recently, using the ignorance or omission of the population. The performances are top-notch, highlighting the talented Mylène Demongeot in an ambiguous role. Unfortunately this film has never been released on VHS or DVD in Brazil, and in Amazon is only available on an expensive VHS. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Not Available"

9 / 10

Unjustly unknown

This great movie does not receive the recognition it deserves and unfortunately, does not yet have a dvd version in order to reach a greater audience. The performances by both Yves Montand and Simone Signoret are memorable and Sartre's screenplay adds a tone which is darker and deprived of hope to Arthur Miller's play. It explores the theme very well and I'd certainly have it my collection with Dreyer's "Day of Wrath", another masterpiece.

8 / 10

Who knew this existed?

Arthur Miller's knockout play The Crucible was published in 1952, so it always struck me as odd that we didn't get a film version until 1996- after the Cold War ended. It's been a decade since I saw the 1996 adaptation, and I wasn't impressed by it. I don't totally remember why, but I thought it was a mistake to actually show the girls engaged in witchcraft-like activities and thought the ending was a bit abrupt, cutting off Proctor's prayer on the gallows. But as it turns out, it actually wasn't the original film version. The first was a French movie from 1957- The Crucible, or The Witches of Salem.

I did like this version better. Although it too shows the girls engaged in witch-like activities (indeed, in this version Abigail appears to be a bona fide witch), it seems slightly more restrained. All of the subject matter involving the supernatural and the political made this movie intriguing and compelling to me. After watching 15 minutes or so, I knew I wanted more. The 1957 film definitely borrows from Miller's play but in a way it is its own take on the Salem witch trials of 1692. It manages to get its point across adequately. It does strike me as odd that the French and Germans would take interest in a witch case from America when Europe had many brutal witch hunts of its own- but setting the story in Salem is true to Miller's story which is the obvious inspiration.