The Crucible Essay, Research Paper
Film and theatre are different media; each has unique effects, in film the location can be just about anywhere in the world and have different atmospheres, the infinite amount of camera angles possible could be used for different emphasis, and the sound could be played in any part of the film and could be any length and of course producing different effects. But this is not the case for theatrical plays. Theatre only has limited resources and visual effects. Theatre plays are not as sophisticated as film plays. They cannot use the latest technology to boost the performance. If you watch the crucible, you can see that most of the film advantages (features) are used in the crucible to make it as emotional, passionate, and dramatic as it can get.
A theatre production however would not have the advantages of music, high tech equipment and retakes. Instead it would have to rely on rehearsals and hope that everything goes well at the live performance.
The film version of the crucible is a lot different to the stage play version. Hytner, the director uses various techniques to highlight a characters emotion like a close up camera shot, but in a stage play Hytner would have to rely on the actors ability to show this.
The film uses different locations such as the ocean, in the houses, the village etc… for its desired effect. The story is so huge and vast it seems to stretch on and go on forever, it represented the fact that beyond Salem there was an entire world waiting to be explored.
Some parts of the film included extra scenes that were not on the original stage play. For example, there was a part where Abigail Williams goes to visit John Proctor to ask him if he wanted to get on a boat for Barbados, but Proctor reluctantly said, “the next time we shall meet, is in hell. This extra scene could be there because Hytner wanted to show the caring side of Abigail Williams or maybe because he wanted to show that Abigail was truly sorry for what she caused and really loved John, and she wanted to run off with him.
At the beginning, the film starts off calm music and gradually gets faster and more panicky then goes to eerie music. This music is gradually playing while the first shot is of Abigail thrusting her head up from bed as if she has woken up from a bad dream. Her head is in contrast with a black background; this makes the whole scene even creepier. This also establishes her as a main character. The camera then goes underneath the bed and has a low shot where you can only picture Abigail putting on her shoes (that seem uncomfortable) against the wooden bed and wooden floorboards. The wall seems like stone and has a few cracks in it. Hytner emphasises the coldness in those days by setting up these props. Abigail puts on a dress and makes the bed by patting it. Abigail makes her way down the stairs along with Betty; the camera is now showing this in between the wooden banisters from the stairs. We can see Abigail´s feet make way down the stairs and the camera angle is straight but slowly moving away. We then see both of their faces.
The way the camera angles are shown, we could clearly see that the village the houses were very small and dark. This gives us a sense of the houses being claustrophobic and dark. This in someway could be called the visual metaphor for the repressive nature of the Salem society.
As Abigail and Betty slowly make their way out to the forest, the camera goes onto the other girls getting out of their “wooden” houses and rushing to the forest. This activity of the girls running into the forest seems very organised and sophisticated. Also all of the girls seem to bring an object each with them. Could this be because they wish to conjure up a spell?
The tempo of the music is now starting to rise in time with the girls running and sounds very menacing like the girls.
Now the camera is sky high and has a shot of the whole village. The village is very small and behind it is a massive lake. There could also be connection with the timing of the conjuring with the full moon in the sky. This suggests that they could believe in witchery. This particular shot is very panoramic.
All of the girls seem very excited when they eventually reach the forest and start to giggle. The camera is in a mid shot position moving at the same pace as the girls running. This effective technique is called tracking, which makes the audience more involved with the action by giving an impression of movement. It has some aspects of a view through the trees and branches as if they are being secretly monitored.
They all gather up in the middle of a pre made fire possibly by Tituba because she was there first. The camera is now in an over head shoot and pictures them running towards the fire with Betty getting there first to give Tituba a hug to greet her. Tituba raises her arms in the air and slowly lowers them to signify that she is in control and the girls follow her instructions by getting down on a crouching position. Tituba then has an evil laughter which some of the girls replicate. An over shoulder shot behind Tituba is now facing Abigail which shows unlike all the other girls, her being nervous and tense. They all answer to Tituba when she says, “What do you bring me?” by placing their arms out and holding the item that they brought with them earlier on. Abigail stands out from the circle of girls because she is not so excited and does not place her arms out just like the rest. The camera moves around the girls as they say a name of what seems to be a boy they fancy and drops the item (flowers) into the boiling and steamy cauldron. As they go round Abigail´s eyes are fixed and she seems as if she is in another world. When they have all placed their item into the cauldron, Betty and another girl are the odd one out because Betty does not call out a name and the other younger girl throws a frog into the cauldron. This could be due to their age and possibly maturity, because of the boys that they fancy.
The Camera is in a birds-eye view when Abigail gets up to exchange the chicken in the bag with Tituba. Now the audience can see some white stones arranged, probably in the form of letters that surround the cauldron. These add to the creepy and ghost like feeling. The music´s speed has dropped very low with a flute playing while it pictures Mary out of the crowd, and feeling lonely and cold at the same time. The camera is then focused on the chicken´s head in a birds-eye viewpoint perspective with Tituba slinging it round and round. While this is happening, the camera has just suddenly popped out of a bush facing straight on at Mr Parris. Mr Parris seems confused and looks at the floor, then looks up again and carries on walking. Now we can see Tituba laughing and the camera moves back onto Mr Parris at another part of the forest making his way towards the girls. The camera is now tracking Mr Parris, so this has created tension and climax for the audience. Whenever the camera faces Parris, you hear loud dancing and music. This enhances the feelings of suspense, danger and excitement. The closer Mr Parris gets to the girls the louder and more intense the music gets, and the more enraptured the viewer becomes.
The Camera goes back to the girls and Tituba in the forest as they are listening to Tituba chanting a song that seems to be in her native language while the girls are slowly swaying. Again, Abigail is the odd one out by sitting in the middle feeling intense and staring at Tituba. A girl then lashes out with, “Make a spell on Joseph Baker, Tituba!” and another follows by saying “Make Daniel Pool my husband!” while another says, “Bring me Adam Town”. They all start to say their wishes and when the camera zooms in on and focuses on Abigail, the other girl says, “Get her John Proctor. This shows that all of the girls know about her and John Proctor´s affair. They then scatter off with Abigail whispering a word to Tituba maybe due to Abigail´s concerns. They both look at each other face to face and Abigail instigates the chicken. All the other girls start to panic and run. The music heightens the emotions of the girls and reaches intensity with the ritual.
During the stripping off of Abigail, this gives an energetic, playful image breaking free from all of the taboos, rules and repression of the community in which they live. If you were on stage you would have been told via the dialogue that the events of the previous night were the cause of Betty´s afflictions. Another scene that I found particularly interesting was the part when Abigail accuses Tituba of witchery.
This scene starts with Hale questioning Mr Parris about what he saw when Abigail and her friends were dancing in the forest. Hale then turns to Abigail and Abigail denies it. During this, the camera is in a constant headshot to see their reactions. Hale asks Parris was there anything moving in the pond then Abigail with an outburst says, “it jumped in”. This meant that there was something in the pond. Hale then asks for the names of the other girls. The music in the background is now creating tension
All of the girls are in what seems to be a courtroom and they are all sitting down. The music has stopped in this next shot as Hale is talking. This technique of non-music makes Hale´s voice stand out when he is talking to the girls, there is also a vague echo that makes the courtroom seem big.
There is a mid-shot in the whole room. All of the girls are looking very submissive/afraid as the camera slowly moves from Abigail to Mary Warren at the end of the row. The reason the camera moves from Abigail to Mary Warren is because at the end of this scene, Mary points the finger at Abigail after they get a telling off from Hale. Abigail looks angry and gives Mary a dirty look, maybe wondering how could she blame it on her after she threatened them when Betty could not wake. The camera is now back onto Abigail looking down as Hale walks down. When she blurts out “Tituba!” the camera angle is on Hale´s left shoulder looking down on her. From this angle we can see the nervous and worrying look and expression on Abigail´s face. Then the camera zooms in on Mrs Putnam as she screams out “I knew it!”
The music in the next scene where Tituba gets called out of her hut/kennel is a slow drumbeat with a symbol in the background. This is constant throughout the scene. The camera starts out low looking up on Parris when they call for Tituba. When Parris, Putnam and Abigail call for Tituba, the camera goes on an overhead shot. This suggests the looking down and impression of low status and the power of the minister. It then switches to Tituba´s viewpoint looking back up on Parris, Putnam and Abigail through two pieces of cloth that is her door. This suggests the low quality of life if you were a slave in those days.
When she is whipped brutality is shown as the camera angle is low, looking up on Tituba with Parris grabbing a cane from the background. The music has now gone from low and close to mute, to loud and easily heard. The camera angle is just right because you can see the pain and suffering from Tituba´s facial expression and screams. The camera switches to the girls and you can see their sympathy as Tituba is being whipped. Mary Warren is the odd one out of the crowd because she seems to give Mrs Putnam a stare thinking that nothing has happened. Mary feels guilty. Abigail goes on to pretend and makes stories up about Tituba. Tituba finally gives in and cries, “ I don´t desire to work for him”. She admits because of the pain she is being given.
Hytner wants to show the rising hysteria, so the cameras move quite rapidly. Now Abigail has control, and the music has risen. The hand of Hale up to the room then drags Tituba and she confesses, saying she saw Sarah Good and Goody Osborne with the devil. Abigail then sees a chance for power and says that she has danced with the devil. The camera was in a headshot looking directly at Tituba to show that she, for a moment had power and that the attention was on her. There was also a window with light shining through it to show signs of holiness.
The court scene where Elizabeth Proctor is called upon to prove that John Proctor is a lecher is very thought upon by Hytner because when he places Abigail, Elizabeth and Proctor, Abigail is on the left, Elizabeth is in the middle and John Proctor is on the right. This is basically symbolic representation that Elizabeth is in between because Abigail wants her to say no, but John wants her to say yes. Basically this suggests that she is in the middle. Hytner has added a lot of tension and gripping acting for the audience because the audience expects Elizabeth not to lie but in fact she does lie. And about 3 seconds before she finally says the wrong thing, which is to lie for Proctor there are two beams of light that shine onto the floor in the background. This suggests truth and goodness sent down from God. After the word “no” come out, the two beams vanish and a large drum beat sounds. Suddenly the tension booms! Hytner directs the cameras to move all the time so that tension is always present.
One scene where I found that the location was used very good in order to express feelings and impressions was when Proctor runs out of the court along with Abigail and Mary when Abigail sees a “big bird”. He then runs into the lake and is in hip level with the water. The music stops, and the shot is quite distant looking down on him like God. Proctor is isolated from the rest and shouts out “God is dead!” at the same time as he raises his arms. Ironically, John is baptised in the water.
For me, Hytner and the film crew very well made this film, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I liked the parts when it had a lot of tension so it made you think, “What´s going to happen next?” because it makes you more interested in the film. The parts that I liked best were when Abigail cries out that there´s a bird in the air and the part where Elizabeth get called to the court and she lies. This is because in these scenes, there were lots of good camera angles to express the characters emotions and feelings. The location had a huge impact on it as well.
The thing about the film that doesn´t make it perfect is that it puts too much focus on infidelity of the central character, when it should emphasise battle for John´s conscience.