The Crucible on screen

WP_20150305_001[1]In April 4th 1875 it was executed for the first time the most famous of the symphonic poems (Ma Vlast) of Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, dedicated to the river Moldava, in which the sound of the strings and flutes imitates the whirling sound ot the water. I was listening it yesterday morning, while walking from the subway to work. It was the perfect soundtrack for the day: heavy rain soaked my leggins, gusts of wind hit my umbrella, my feet splashed the puddles of water formed in the pavement of Via Ottaviano and Saint Peter’s Square. This was yesterday’s weather condition; Italy was (and still is) striken by a phenomenon that our meteorologists, always in search of original and poetic (every Italian has a Dante in their veins) titles for storms and anticyclones, have baptised as “the Artic Whip”. But, notwithstanding this, a small army of well wishers yesterday night defied the elements to watch The Crucible on screen. Fortunately rain stopped in the afternoon although the artic whip keeps leashing us ruthlessly.

The cinema was almost full, the audience formed mainly by women, exception made of two or three resigned husbands (including mine) and a courageous solitary young man near us. Unfortunately I’m not intrusive enough, otherwise I’d have asked him why was he there. A fan of Samantha Colley? A theatre-lover? A well-wisher himself? Should you read these lines, young gentleman, an anonymous comment on the matter should be much appreciated.

Whatever I may write now about the play is old stuff, and something that you have read dozens and dozens of times. How was Richard Armitage? I won’t be the only one to criticise a flawless performance, what else can I say? Only that fortunately countdown for digital download has begun and in about ten days I will be able to enjoy every single nuance, smirk, gesture. There was not an expression out of line, from June 2014 John Proctor and Richard Armitage are all a single thing.

But I must confess that I have remained a little bit disappointed about the quality of the images; I was hoping to experience a high resolution live experience, as we have seen in the trailer…

 … but unfortunately they were not. Maybe the third row where I was sat was a little bit too close to the screen and the ideal position to watch the play was the central or back rows. The fact is that the image gave not at all the impression of a high resolution recording. Anyway, I had my reasons to book those seats. I have realised that the most restless members of a cinema audience prefer the central rows, even if I must say that yesterday’s was the most educated audience that I’ve seen lately in a cinema. Nevertheless the usual disturbing plastic bag crunch was heard every now and then and, above all, what I feared the most happened: a childlish nervous giggling during Proctor’s “bath” scene. The effect that giggle in such a moment of the play had on me was the same of someone exploding a bubble gum during the opening string chords of “La Traviata” overture. Richard Armitage was not there selling his “pound of flesh”, as he had done in other occasions in tv films. He was Proctor overwhelmed by the sense of guilt, trying to wash his sin away. Proctor felt guilty for having seen Abigail again, even in those circumstances, he was ashamed for not having been strong and truthful enough. That scene is perfect as it is, that naked flesh, that furious scrubbing was full of sense, as it had to add the salt to Goody Proctor’s insipid stew to say later to reverend Hale that it was tasty.

Adrian Schiller as Reverend John Hale. The Crucible on screen website

All the cast was a perfect ensemble; I was delightfully surprised by Adrian Schiller. I have the tendency to focus my attention on the performer’s hands as I think that they are the most difficult part of the body to control when acting, being able to make them move naturally or to change require a high dose of skill. Marama Corlett nails that nervous trembling spasms when “awakening” from her posession, and Adrian Schiller gives a slightly parkinsonian movement to his right hand from the very moment he feels remorse for the role he has played in the trials. I am sure that I will write more posts in the future about Mr. Schiller’s performance, the edition of the film and the rest of the cast, but right I feel myself quite incapable of writing anything with a minimum of sense.

For those of you curious about hubby’s reaction. He was quite shocked on learning that the play was in English with English subtitles, but it took it all very sportingly. He enjoyed it even with language barriers (this is just an opener of what he will experience in May) and acknowledge that Richard Armitage was extraordinary. His second favourite actor of the cast? Harry Attwell

Harry Attwell played Thomas Putnam. Source: crucible on screen