Over the years many movies have been made based upon famous plays or books. Often times these movies are successful in portraying the play-writer’s images and thoughts for the play or book. Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible and the movie version have many differences and similarities, all of which contribute to the individual effectiveness of each in conveying their central message. There are several additions and changes to the plot, characters, and mood of the play, which have been implemented into the movie.
To begin, some scenes in the movie were only talked about or made reference to in the play, but in the movie these scenes take place and the viewer actually sees the event happen. For example the scene where the children and Tituba are dancing in the forest is never seen in the play, instead we learn about it through dialogue. This scene was probably added in the movie for a dramatic effect. The director uses foreshadowing, to change the mood of the scene and perception of the audience. Along the same lines, there are many scenes included in the movie that are outdoors. However, these scenes were not the same in the play version of the crucible because in the play these scenes took place indoors.
Another slight change in the movie from the play is that in the movie the Proctor’s have two kids, but in the play they have three. Another scene that is in the movie that is not in the play is the final scene where Proctor is executed. In the play they do not talk about Proctor’s hanging, the book ends with Elizabeth saying, “He has his goodness now…”(Miller 145). The changes made to The Crucible for the movie version enhance the plot and make it easier to follow.
Mood can determine upcoming events in the plot of plays. There were some scenes added or adapted in the movie as opposed to the play, which modified it. First, the large group of “stricken” girls, including Abigail, was much bigger in the movie than the group of girls in the play. Another difference in the movie is shown when the group of girls leave the church meeting at the beginning of the movie to see about Betty’s condition. Betty seemed to be much more violent in the movie and she tried to jump out of the window, which did not occur in the play. These details were most likely added to amplify the idea of “mass hysteria” that witchcraft is causing in Salem. Later in the story, in the section of the movie where Mary Warren goes to confess that she has “seen no spirits,” there are a few changes. First of all, the girls never came after Mary in the play, but they did in the movie. Once again, this is simple foreshadowing; showing that further on the girls will unite against Mary. These changes all helped set the mood for the upcoming events in the play.
Another significant change from the play that was implemented into the movie is in the character portrayal. In the play, Parris appeared to be overly egocentric and self-conscious. He still retains these qualities in his character in the movie, but they do not stand like then do in the play. Putnam also seems to have a personality change from the play to the movie. In the movie his personality strikes me as almost psychotic, but in the play Putnam does not seem to be as pushy although he is still as being quite vindictive, and bitter.
Another difference in characterization is the presence of three judges in the movie, whereas in the play there were only two, both of whom where made out to be “bad guys.” One additional judge is added in the movie possibly to show that it was not the entirety of the Church that was unjust, cruel, and nearly ignorant. The changes made to the characters helped take focus away from areas that were not essential to the story, but still kept the character as close to Miller’s original characters.
When compared and contrasted, the movie is more effective in delivering its message to the viewers than the play. The additions made in the movie help to more clearly define the roles of good and evil, and play on the hidden feelings people have. Most of the additions were appropriately made and were quite successful in portraying Miller’s images and thoughts. Although one can find many differences between the two versions of The Crucible, both were successful in keeping the reader and the viewer interested and inspired.