|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Nicholas Hytner, 1996)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: 20th Century Fox
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 31,527,125,297 bytes
Feature Size: 26,112,970,752 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.81 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 11th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1557 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1557 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps)
•Audio Commentary with Director Nicholas Hytner and Writer Arthur Miller
• A Conversation with Daniel Day-Lewis and Arthur Miller (5:22)
• Making-of Featurette (6:56)
• Trailer (1:02)
Description:17th-century Salem, Massachusetts - a group of teenage girls meets in the woods at midnight for a secret love-conjuring ceremony. But instead of love, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder, Heathers) wishes for the death of her former lover's (Daniel Day-Lewis, The Last of the Mohicans) wife (Joan Allen, The Ice Storm). When the ceremony is witnessed by one of the town s ministers, the girls are accused of witchcraft. Soon the entire village is consumed by hysteria, and innocent victims are put on trial, leading to a devastating climax! Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) directed this modern classic based on a play by the great Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman) and featuring an amazing cast that includes Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons), Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Bruce Davison (Longtime Companion), and Peter Vaughan (Straw Dogs). Received two Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Allen) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Miller).
When Arthur Miller's play The Crucible was first staged in 1953, it was widely acclaimed as a metaphor for the recklessness of Joseph McCarthy and his spurious crusade against communism. In its 1996 screen adaptation (scripted by Miller), the tone has been adjusted somewhat and plays as a warning against the dangers of political and religious extremism of all kinds. After a group of young women is accused of witchcraft in the Puritan community of Salem, Mass. in 1692, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder) is held in suspicion of practicing magic. Abigail in turn levels charges against John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen). Abigail has a private grudge against the Proctors; while working as their servant, she had an affair with John, and when John ended the relationship and returned to his wife, Abigail was fired. Now the Reverend Parris (Bruce Davison) is hearing accusations and counter-accusations of misdeeds from all sides of the community in the wake of Abigail's charges, so he brings in Judge Danforth (Paul Scofield) to determine who is guilty or innocent. However, given the moral climate of the time, it seems someone has to be found guilty of witchcraft, even though firm evidence of wrongdoing is becoming hard to come by. This was the second screen version of The Crucible, though it was the first one in English; the previous version, filmed in France in 1956, starred Simone Signoret and Yves Montand.
Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. The town tears itself apart during the investigations testing the claims of a group of young girls that their nocturnal forest gatherings were the result of satanic possession. At the root of the hysteria is the sexual and emotional turmoil of Abigail Williams (Ryder), bent on vengeance against Elizabeth Proctor (Allen) who put a stop to Abigail's affair with her husband John (Day-Lewis); but that particular power struggle, with its deceit, suspicion and resentment, is as nothing to the deadly vortex that consumes Salem when Judge Danforth (Scofield) arrives to take control with trials and hangings. The ironies of the piece, adapted by Arthur Miller from his own 1953 play on the perils of McCarthyism, are savage and well served by a top-notch cast perfectly attuned to the poetry of the dialogue and the parable's fiery passions. Hytner holds the action together with solid, unflashy, well-paced direction, ensuring that this is no mere period piece but a compelling, pertinent account of human fear, frailty and cold ambition.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of The Crucible looks a bit thin in 1080P. There may be a smidgeon of digitization but I only noticed it in a very small number of scenes. I'm guessing it was part of the source, which is also very clean. The transfer shows minor depth and, overall this Blu-ray gave me a very watchable, if not dynamic, viewing in regards to the picture quality.
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Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1557 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are effects in the film - nothing mechanical and mostly modest aside from the occasional shriek that can sound quite deep and ominous. There is a rather noble, medieval-based score by George Fenton (The Fisher King, Planet Earth, Life) that seems to benefit from the lossless transfer. The 'olde-English' dialogue was fairly easy to distinguish - but there are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Kino include an audio commentary with director Nicholas Hytner and writer Arthur Miller which I presume was on the earlier DVD as the playwright passed in 2005. I believe this is his only commentary and it is quite excellent filling the 2-hour film's running time with fascinating tidbits of the story and production via Hytner. A great inclusion in the package. There is also a 5 1/2 minute conversation with Daniel Day-Lewis and Arthur Miller that is far too short and only touches upon vital details. Lastly are an old making-of featurette and the film's trailer.
April 2nd, 2017
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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