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Scarlet Letter
     

The Scarlet Letter

3.3 3
Director: Rick Hauser, Meg Foster, Kevin Conway, John Heard

Cast: Rick Hauser, Meg Foster, Kevin Conway, John Heard

 
This production closely follows Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. In Boston, shortly after its founding in 1630, the Puritan citizenry order Hester Prynne (Meg Foster), a beautiful young woman, to wear a scarlet letter "A" (signifying "adulteress") on her dress for life after she bears a child in the absence of her husband, who has delayed

Overview

This production closely follows Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. In Boston, shortly after its founding in 1630, the Puritan citizenry order Hester Prynne (Meg Foster), a beautiful young woman, to wear a scarlet letter "A" (signifying "adulteress") on her dress for life after she bears a child in the absence of her husband, who has delayed his trip to the New World to conclude business. Despite intense questioning, Hester refuses to identify the father, Arthur Dimmesdale (John Heard), a respected minister who cannot muster the courage to acknowledge his sin in public. After Hester's husband (Kevin Conway) arrives unrecognized by anyone but Hester, he, too, fails to extract the name from her. So he assumes another identity, calling himself Roger Chillingworth, in order to ferret out the wrongdoer and gain revenge. Meanwhile, Hester, a seamstress, bears up with dignity even though she and her child, Pearl (Elisa Erali), suffer continual ridicule. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, suffers gnawing guilt, and his health declines. Chillingworth, a scholar familiar with medicinal remedies, provides potions to Dimmesdale while gathering clues that evenutally implicate the reverend as the culprit. All the while, Chillingworth, monomanical in his quest for revenge, becomes corrupt, and Dimmesdale, distraught with remorse, develops heart problems. But Hester, stronger and wiser for her experience, carries on and earns the respect of the people. When Hester and Dimmesdale meet alone, they agree to set sail together and begin anew. But after Dimmesdale delivers a rousing sermon on a holiday, his guilt causes him to mount a scaffold to speak to the people Viewers then learn whether he has finally gathered the courage to reveal himself as Pearl's father.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
The audio and visual effects of this 1979 production are inferior. But its script and faithfulness to Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter are superior. The dialogue, for example, includes verbatim passages rich in imagery and 17th century puritan idioms that enhance the sense of time and place. Moreover, the essential story of sin and redemption in puritan New England is there, condensed but otherwise unaltered. In the lead role, Meg Foster is demure and enduring as Hester Prynne, condemned to wearing the letter "A" (meaning "adulteress") on her dress as a "living sermon" against iniquity. Carefully weighing out her emotions, Foster displays quiet dignity when the citizens taunt Hester and righteous anger when the citizens attempt to take her child. Foster's ethereal beauty, accented by her raven hair and famous inscrutable eyes, make her perfect for the part physically. John Heard's performance as Arthur Dimmesdale, the tortured minister who fathered Hester's child, may be his best acting achievement. His speech at the end of the film is truly moving. Kevin Conway, portraying Hester's husband-come-lately, is also outstanding as he leads his character into the depths of evil in an obsessional quest to ruin Dimmesdale. Alas, such a good film artistically is deeply flawed technically. The film looks and sounds like a stage play, the lighting is dim, and important dialogue isn't always audible. Fortunately, these flaws are not severe enough to ruin the film, thanks to its timeless themes and strong acting.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/04/2003
UPC:
0783421366794
Original Release:
1979
Rating:
NR
Source:
Wgbh / Pbs
Time:
4:00:00
Sales rank:
27,844

Special Features

Closed Caption; On the set of The Scarlet Letter and other behind-the-scenes extras; Hawthorne biography; Cast filmographies; Discussion questions for educators; Scene selection; Closed captions

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc 1
1. Introduction [5:17]
2. The Market-Place [12:27]
3. The Interview [17:28]
4. Hester at Her Needle [12:49]
5. Pearl [5:12]
6. Credits [3:16]
7. Behind the Scenes: The Set - Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island [2:14]
1. Introduction [3:32]
2. A Mother's Rights [18:57]
3. The Minister and the Physician [16:32]
4. The Interior of a Heart [3:41]
5. The Minister's Vigil [11:05]
6. Credits [3:22]
7. Behind the Scenes: Kevin Conway on Chillingworth [2:01]
Side #2 -- Disc 2
1. Introduction [3:31]
2. Another View of Hester [8:24]
3. Hester and the Physician [10:36]
4. Hester and Pearl [8:40]
5. The Pastor and His Parishioner [10:16]
6. A Flood of Sunshine [13:26]
7. Credits [3:13]
1. Introduction [3:31]
2. At the Brook-side [4:59]
3. The Minister in a Maze [8:40]
4. Election Day [14:31]
5. The Revelation [12:06]
6. Credits [3:10]
7. Behind the Scenes - Making the Scene: On the Set of The Scarlet Letter [12:10]

Customer Reviews

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The Scarlet Letter 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story is true to author. If you've never read it, you may find it sad or depressing. The sound quality isn't very good though. At times, I wouldn't have known what was being said at all if weren't for turning on closed captions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yes, it's a difficult book. Yes, it takes hard work. But as with anything, hard work reeps huge rewards. This video is a great tool to help unlock Hawthorne's complex story of sin, guilt, revenge, and redemption. You will be richer for the journey.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The sound and picture were poor quality. It felt as if it was taped with a home video camera. However, the story was true to Hawthorne's novel.