The Scarlet Letter (1995)

Demi Moore, Gary Oldman, Robert Duvall, Lisa Andoh,
An affair between a young woman and a pastor has disastrous consequences.
  • 5.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Douglas Day Stewart, Writer:
  • Roland Joffé, Director:
  • Andrew G. Vajna, Producer:
6/10 / 10

I was expecting something really awful, but once I got about 15 minutes intothe movie, I decided that the only way to enjoy it was to forget that it was"based on" a famous novel and just enjoy the movie for what it was. And Ifound myself very entertained.

I was impressed with Gary Oldman's performance. It's nice to see himportray someone who isn't a psychotic ham and he did admirably well. DemiMoore suprised me with her acting and apart from a few stilted scenes anddiscomfort with the dialogue, I think she pulled it off pretty well. Ifound myself caring about her character and her relationship withDimmesdale. Perhaps the bathing scene was a little too gratuitous -- c'mon,Demi, do you need to show it all? -- but it was only a few minutes out of135.

I wish that Pearl could have been given more screen time and characterdevelopment and the woman who did her voiceover throughout the story leftmuch to be desired. As did Robert Duvall's performance. I didn't much likehis acting in this movie at all.

The supporting cast was excellent: Joan Plowright, Edward Hardwicke, andothers. The locations and set design were exquisite and the costumes weregorgeous.

Overall, I thought it was a very good way to spend a couple hours. You seesome early colonial atmosphere, something which is almost extinct in moviesnowadays, and adequate and sometimes inspired acting. Just don't expect tosee Hawthorne's novel on the screen. If you want to see the unhappy endingin all its self-mutilating glory, see Lillian Gish's silent version that issometimes aired on Turner Classic Movies. 6/10

1/10 / 10

I just caught this movie on cable. Eager to see a film version of theHawthorne book I was, Very Disappointed. It is sad that some peoplewill think that this is the real Scarlet Letter. The names ofcharacters are the same as the book but it rapidly departs from thebook beyond that -- and for the worse.

You will read commentaries here about what a wonderful film this waswith discussions of the beautiful cinematography and great acting. Theywill also say how it is "loosely adapted" from Hawthornes' book. Theseare all true statements and the "loose" in loosely should be especiallyemphasized. I even agree that normally an adaption might be judged onits own merits.

So why did I give this a low score?

Because it is titled "The Scarlet Letter". That is a classical bookwith some very deep moral messages. The very term "Scarlet Letter" hastaken on a special meaning in our language and culture. But, if someonerecognizes what Hawthorne was trying to do with his book, they willimmediately see this as a rotten-to-the-core script. Consider: theScarlet Letter, a central theme in the book and holding so muchmeaning, is just a minor prop in this movie that almost gets in theway.

In Hawthorne's book, the heroine, by her actions through life, turnedthe Scarlet Letter from meaning "Adulteress" to meaning "Angel" -- itbecame an emblem of her inner beauty, redeemed through her strength,integrity and good heart. In our own time, people often find themselves"labeled" or identified in some way as bad or as a loser. What a greatthing it is to have messages that say "You can rise above that!". Thismovie completely and totally misses that opportunity. It is one of thegreat messages that can be given to others in this life, and it isabandoned in this movie.

And what is it traded for? Feminism, rebellion and justifications ofimmorality. Edgy? Groundbreaking? Incisive? No. So shallow its likecliff diving in a birdbath compared with what Hawthorne brought. Inthis adaptation, Hester, the heroine claims to not know if what she didwas wrong -- or sometimes suggesting it was right. From that high moralground, Hester almost becomes a feminist warrior or icon leading aninsurrection of women against men. That rebellion is ridiculoushistorically but worse, it completely guts the morality of the book.And the Scarlet Letter? From what I can tell, the movie Hester seems tofinally throw it away when she gets her freedom. It has no meaningother than as a talisman for oppression.

That is a different message than the book gave out. But the Movie isstill called "The Scarlet Letter". If the screenwriter wanted to sendout a different moral message, then he should have retitled the movie.Something like "Hester's Anachronistic and Pointless Rebellion" wouldhave been good. Then it would be truth in advertising.

The actors and technicians did a great job but after reading the scriptthey should have dropped the project. I suppose they needed the money.Beautifully shot, well acted, great score ... it still gets a "1" forbeing an egregious lie.

1/10 / 10

If this movie were original it would be only fair to mediocre, butclaiming its based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel is insulting.I hear the ads for this movie say its based 'freely and liberally' onthe book. Well, this is an insult to the book. Is Demi Moore soilliterrate she comments (see trivia section) that it was okay tochange the ending of the book from sad to happy because not many peopleread the book? Unbelievable. The Scarlett 'A' imagery has beenpermanently etched in American culture. Take classic literature and tryshoving it through the Hollywood formula mill and this movie is theresult, a faceless, emotionless and forgettable movie. Try sayign thatabout the book

7/10 / 10

For my point of view "The Scarlet Letter" is a good film with greatperformances… All the actors do a superb job… I was worried that DemiMoore might not have the range to handle the role of Mistress Prynne,but she is excellent... She is strong, passionate, intelligent anddamaged… In another place and time she might have been a leader; inthis movie she is quite believable as the woman who defends her love atall costs… Gary Oldman looks perfect as Reverend Dimmesdale… Heprojects force and sexual magnetism along with the guilt for his sin…

The film opens in 1666 when Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) arrived in theMassachusetts Bay Colony filled with hope that here, at last, in thisnew World, would come the freedom to worship without fear orpersecution… She didn't suspect that beyond the trees there is a savageland of savage passions dark and untamed, and that soon she will face ascornful community in which she will forever be shamed by the scarletletter…

Mistress Prynne rejected the idea of staying in the congregation untilher husband's arrival and looked for a house of her own… She finds abeautiful and frightening place, just as 'Eden must have been sountouched…'

On one Sabbath morning, Hester met Reverend Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman)who helps her when her cart got stuck in the woods… She truly enjoyed,few minutes later, his sermon … It was rare, for her, to find a man soyoung and fiery who could speak with such force of passion… She wasmoved by his passion…

Dimmesdale thought that comprehending God was going to be his greatestchallenge, but—after he met Hester—he was not the man he seems to be…He lost his power before this seductress beautiful woman… He lived inthis township his whole life and his purpose was clear… But now hewould risk everything—his life, his ministry, his soul—just to spend afew moments alone with her… After he asked her why that morning in theforest, she didn't say that she is married, he wondered how she wereable to see so deeply into his nature…

From that moment, two hearts were there struggling against a love thatgrew stronger with each passing day…

Hester was courteous enough but her tongue knew no rules… She earnedmore than a few reprimands in her life for speaking too bluntly… With afrightening strength, she challenged her persecutors and stood up totheir hypocrisy, refusing to reveal her lover's identity…

"The Scarlet Letter" compels us to recognize the shadow side of ourlives, including this passion that pushes us beyond our limits... Theclimax also compels us to contemplate about whether there is anythingthat we would be willing to die for…

9/10 / 10

First, I apologies because my English, I'm from Panama. Second, for me,TSLis a very beautiful movie and I know that it is far from the book byNathaniel Hawthorne, nevertheless, I found nice things there, forinstance,the setting was so refreshing to me and the love scenes were very romantictoo. In this movie I felt in love to Gary Oldman. I consider that Demi aswell as Gary were chemistry. On the other hand, I think that the producerand the whole team portrait the epoch of the pilgrims, the way they livedand thought about morality and religion. Demi was pretty in this characterand convincing. For me this was a sad story of love. Although, thescreenplay changed at the end, I found that this movie was done to giveaudience happier than the original book.