Nowadays many people prefer to watch a movie in the cinema or in the TV rather than reading a book. This explains why more and more books are being transformed into movies. Sometimes the movies are faithful to the books that they adapt. In other cases the directors feel free to change the play or the novel to best suit the feelings and the tastes of their audience. A film director has more resources to produce a film than what you have in a play theatre. In a play written for a theatre stage, the decorations can change only a certain number of times and it can be difficult to express the different emotions of the characters. A film can show the different emotions with close ups and can built emotions with different decorations and music. The play is more limited than the movie and that is why there are usually differences between a story written as a play and a film based on that same story. The movie and the play portray different feelings of pity, empathy and anger, as well as similarities with a historic event that has inspired both movie and play.
Gary Sinse transformed the book of Arthur Miller, The Crucible, into a very forceful movie even though there are some differences between the play and the movie. Sinse respects most of the play and consequently the movie and the play have many things in common. Nevertheless, to enrich the play and to make it less theatre like, the director introduces some changes in the movie that make it different from the play. There are differences between the play and the movie and the feeling we arrive. For the play we get mostly get a feeling of anger and pity. The first difference comes in the first scenes of the play and the movie. In the play, Betty is in a small bedroom, lying on the bed, with her father, Reverend Parris kneeling beside her bed and praying (6-7-8). It takes a few pages to know what has happened to her and why she is in a sort of comma. The feeling that this situation evokes is anger because she is faking the whole situation and letting her father think that she is really dying.
To avoid being punished and whipped by her father, Betty makes up a lie saying that the girls that were dancing had been witchcraft (44-46) and she fakes her own comma. The fact that she is so untruthful brings a feeling of anger in the reader. Another difference arises when Betty decides to jump out of the window. In the play, only the girls know Betty’s intention. It produces a feeling of anger because the girls are not trustworthy and are capable of throwing their own friend out of the window to save themselves. Some differences arise also regarding John Proctor. In the play nobody knows that John and Abigail have committed adultery (77. 105).For Abigail there is a feeling of pity because if she loves so much John, and is able to have people killed to be with him, then she should have told the whole town about it. In the play, some lies are better understood once it is clear that Abigail still loves John, is jealous and wants revenge (77).
Also in the play John has completely forgotten his affair with Abigail and he does not consider it important. The love affair appears just as a sexual relation with not much feeling on John’s part. This can be seen when he says “The promise that a stallion gives a mare I gave that girl!”(60). This declaration produces anger because it shows no respect for the girl. He is sorry about having had the love affair, he is distrusted by his wife Elizabeth and because of this distrust and for Elizabeth sake he avoids seeing Abigail (52-53). Another difference is that in the play Reverend Parris does not whip Tituba once it is said that she has done witchcraft. There is a feeling of pity for Tituba for being wrongly accused.
In the play, when John is going to be hanged he does not pray. The felling is of pity because he has an unjust death. On the contrary, in the movie we mostly see a felling of empathy and pity. In the movie, the opening scene shows some girls dancing in a crazy way around a fire with a stove in the forest. This way of starting the story sets a different frame of mind. Something surprising and wild can happen. It shows more imagination and catches attention quickly. This wild dance makes you feel pity for the girls because they believe in strange things that will happen to them. In the movie, everybody in Salem sees Betty trying to jump out of the window. A feeling of pity reaches the spectator when the town sees what these poor girl intends to do.
Betty is trying to commit suicide because she feels very bad about herself and wants to tell the truth but the other girls do not let her (17). Probably Sinse makes the whole town watch how Betty tries to commit suicide, to show how everybody in town knows what is going on. Sometimes the director can make up a character to bring up certain emotions in the spectators. For example, Sinse invents a new character Mr. Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs is a poor old man accused of being the devil, which of course he is not. Through him the spectator is more sympathetic with those accused of witchcraft. The feeling the film creates when he is at court saying to Betty that she knows him and that she knows he is innocent, the way the tone of his voice changes, is a feeling of pity. In the movie everybody knows that they have had a love affair.
With this change, Sinse wants to emphasize that the situation of adultery is not so scandalous and that in spite of that, people continue respecting John Proctor. This situation creates a feeling of anger because John has a double life, with his wife and children and at the same time an affair with Abigail. In the movie, John knows that he has made a mistake having an affair with Abigail but he shows more affection towards her. John does not avoid her and it seems as if he still has some love for her. Sinse deals with the love affair of Abigail and John as something more serious and tender. Empathy for John’s situation arises in the spectator. Since John does not want his honour destroyed, he refuses to sign the paper confessing witchcraft. So, he will be hanged. John is an honorable man that dislikes lies and that creates a feeling of empathy.
On the contrary, in the movie John recites parts of the bible before his execution. In this way, Sinse tries to transmit us the impression that John is not only innocent but that he is also a good Christian that will not lie. The feeling is of empathy because he is a good man and trusts God. By acting honestly, John gains back the respect of his wife. For example, when in front of his wife he says “I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such do Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show honor now, show a stony and sink them with it!” (133). In the movie, he whips Tituba until she confesses that she has let out the devil. The director does this to show how people in Salem were forced to say things that were not true. The whipping of Tituba produces anger because she is innocent. These differences change a lot the movie from the play but some basic ideas are kept in.
Although there are differences between the play and the movie, Sinse keeps the essentials and the movie is really quite close to the play. In this way, the town of Salem is described as it is in the play. A puritan town ruled by religion and authority where everybody is expected to live under certain rules and they are looked at suspiciously if they do not follow the right path which means the rules of society. Both the book and the film transmit very well the sense of oppression and the lack of freedom to think differently. Both, play and movie sometimes transmit a feeling of anger and also a felling of empathy.
The whole situation described creates a feeling of anger for the manipulation the people suffer. The characters of the play are the same in the play and in the movie. Both play and movie, showed the ignorance and superstition that existed and that made people believed and see things that nowadays would be considered incredible. The way they believe such stupid things produces anger. The important themes of the play are also present in the movie. Truth as opposed to fear. The fear of the different characters makes them get involved in a terrible lie that will cost the life of many people.
For example, Abigail is afraid of being whipped, Reverend Parris is afraid of loosing his job, Mrs. Putnam is resentful because she lost all her children and is afraid she will loose the only one left alive, and she thinks that something strange has been going on. As can be proved by her words, “I have laid seven babies unbaptized in the earth….. and yet, each would wither in my arms the very night of their birth…. and now, this year my Ruth, my only I see her turning strange….” (13). The feeling is of anger because they are so ignorant and coward. If truth had been present in everybody the terrible trial would not have taken place. Another important theme is honor and reputation. John Proctor had a good reputation and he did not want to loose it. Both book and film show how trap John is and how important it is for him what people think of him. It seems that it is more important to him than his own life.
To save John’s reputation, Elizabeth does not tell the truth, “….. has John Proctor ever committed the crime of lechery?….No sir”(108-109). At the end, John keeps his honor and stays true to his word and does not sign his name in a document that was full of lies. He doubts whether to confess, “I have been thinking I would confess to them ….What say you? If I give them that?” (130). Later, he changes his mind, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang!
How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (138). Empathy is the feeling that John creates in both the spectator and the reader because you understand his struggle and like the way he solves his doubts. Towards the end of both the play and the movie, the people of Salem start to realize that they are making a mistake (95). For example, Parris is not comfortable with the situation and tells Danforth that when he “summoned the congregation…..there were hardly thirty people come to hear it. That speak a discontent, I think, and……” (123) Although some people have second thoughts, it can be felt that there are so many mean and selfish interests, that nobody wants to speak up, say the truth and stop the deaths. It gives you a feeling of anger to see that nobody will stop the situation and will shout the truth. These basic similarities can be found both in the movie and the play, since both of them have tried to reflect the true story that took place in the small town of Salem.
There are many similarities between the story told by Miller and the McCarthy era. Around the mid 20 century, Americans were very afraid of Communism. It all started when it was said that there was a Communist conspiracy taking place in Washington, New York and some other places. It was not true and nothing could be proved. In spite of that, McCarthy decided to investigate people from the government an accusing them of sympathising with communism and many were persecuted and lost their jobs on false accusations because they were suspected of communist activities. Many people were terrified and were wrongly accused for things they had not done. Some had to accuse their friends to be left free.
If someone had been accused and did not give up his ideas and compromise with the official truth, he could be sent to jail. At that time in the United States many people were listening to McCarthy, and following what he said, more so because television had just started and McCarthy’s interrogation were seen by many Americans. It was a very bad time in the United States because people were not allowed to feel free and speak freely of their ideas. McCarthy was like the group of girls accusing innocent people of things they had not done. Many Americans believed what McCarthy said as people in Salem believed what the girls said and what was best for their interests. The McCarthy era and the Crucible are similar in many ways because they both show that people were not allowed to think freely and that they were considered suspiciously if they did so.
The feelings of pity, anger and empathy are compared and contrasted in the movie and in the play with a common historic event. Today many novels and plays are being turned into movies. Gary Sinse tried and did follow the basic ideas of The Crucible but he also added a little bit of emotion and close ups to make it a real movie not an exact copy of the play. There are some differences, and many similarities. Gary Sinse used the story and followed Miller’s play to make a fascinating movie portraying his ideas and transmitting us the same emotions that can be found in the book.