Sexy Demi Moore (DISCLOSURE, INDECENT PROPOSAL) heats up this powerfully sensual story of illicit love! In a time when adultery is punishable by death, Hester Prynne (Moore) becomes involved in a risky and scandalous affai... more »r with her town's handsome minister (Gary Oldman -- MURDER IN THE FIRST). But when their secret passion results in a child, Hester is confronted with the town's overwhelming scorn ... and is condemned to forever wear the scarlet letter "A" as a public brand of shame! A highly provocative retelling of the classic tale of forbidden love, THE SCARLET LETTER combines a sizzling story with exciting stars and delivers must-see entertainment.« less
"There's a disclaimer which flashes on the screen at the beginning of this 1995 film. It says it is "freely adapted from the novel" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then it goes on to tell the famous story through the eyes of twentieth century feminism, sexual freedom and politically correct happy endings. I must admit I never did read the book, but I've long been aware of the general plot, set in 1666, of an adulteress forced to wear the scarlet letter "A".Demi Moore is cast as Hester Pryne, the adulteress, and we all know what's going to happen to her. She's been sent to America to establish a home; her husband is supposed to be following soon. She shocks the good people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when she insists on living alone, with the help of a couple of bondsmen and a female black slave. I doubt if Hawthorne's book then had the local minister, played by Gary Oldman, do a little nude swimming on Hester's property. I also doubt that Hawthorne had her peeking, getting excited and sensuously soaking in a bathtub, displaying her own nude body and thinking about the pastor. The couple declare their love for each other but it is only after they think her husband dead that they consummate their relationship. Her pregnancy is a crime and she spends the last six months of her confinement in a horrible prison. Then she is forced to wear the scarlet letter and is shunned by all. She refuses to name her lover, and so Oldman sulks around town, looking guilty but keeping his mouth shut. This is a great role for any actress, but Demi Moore just can't handle it. She might have a nice body but the expression on her face seems to be frozen, incapable of the subtleties, passion and despair that the role calls for. Gary Oldman is slightly better, but his portrayal of the weakling pastor is also one-dimensional.The film is saved, however, by the role of Robert Duvall, who appears late, but yet steals the show with his impassioned portrayal of the wronged husband bent on revenge. He dominates every scene he's in and a single expression on his face tells more about his character than the combined performances of the rest of the entire cast. The story is a good one, and it moved fast enough to hold my interest, especially since there were some action scenes added that Hawthorne had probably never intended. That's why I can't recommend it unless you're willing to just relax and watch a well-plotted historical romance with mediocre acting."
Cathleen M. Walker | Massachusetts | 08/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've avoided this movie for the longest time because Demi Moore was in it. Isn't that silly? Even though I've enjoyed many of her movies, I just couldn't believe that a movie this important with her in it would receive the historic treatment it deserved. I could not have been more wrong. I was deeply engrossed from the first scene, and could not tear myself away. Demi herself is amazing, but the screenplay and the scenery, the production and the details pulled me right into the story and would not let me go until the very last scene -- and I absolutely loved the ending! This is an amazing work of art -- and I'm glad I finally had a chance to see it. Once I had, I knew I had to add it to my library -- a collection of what I consider to be only the best representations of our culture and our history."
This is one CONFUSED movie !!
SalemCat | Salem, Mass | 09/11/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Hawthorne's moving tale of tragedy and tolerance has been so twisted as to be nearly unrecognisible. In it's place is a confused action flic which culminates in a macbre game of musical chairs at the scaffold. First it's "hang the witches", then it's "hang Hester Pryne", then finally let's "hang the minister !" In the end, no one hangs due to a convenient and bloody Indian Uprising. That none of these things were present in Hawthorne's masterpiece is apparently of no consequence. This is a good movie to lend to a kid who is too lazy to read the book, and who you have a grudge against."
Film Snobs aside,...An enjoyable film!
Trice2000@yahoo.com | Michigan, USA | 08/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sorry folks, but I am one of those weird people who go to see a movie for the only purpose of being entertained. Drama, Tragety, Comedy...it makes no difference. Did I enjoy the film. The answes is YES! Was I entertained? YES! Did I feel for the characters? YES!I never read "Hawthorns book" and never care if I do. What "I" saw was a man thrown into a complete questioning of everything he believed to be true. Until Hester, everything had made sence in his world. Now this "love" for a married woman was a direct contrast to all He believed in. To all he WAS. And yet, he loved and (believed in) her too. The line " I am in hell" summed it all up. He knew not how to place one belief over another. So he walks a road, that he sees has no sane end. One reviewer on this page called him a ninny. I was glad (for once) to see a non-Rambo, sensitive performance...especailly by Oldman (Air FOrce One) who can do the macho thing quite well. I particularly liked the scene with the books and the ink...how REAL. In his nervouseness of seeing her, he drops books gets ink on himself, and feels a bit stupid about it all. Is this a ninny? I think it is a real reaction, of a shy minister, not knowing what to feel or do.Demi Moore??? at times she was good but at times both character and accent slipped. I think she could have skipped the accent. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio come to mind for me in this role.Again...non movie snob I am...I measure a film if it touches me. This one did, particularly Oldmans character. And the heck with Hawthorne...to have these people die for the "crime" of love would have been very real for this time peroid, but frankly would have "wrecked my day". Remember I seek only entertainment for my few bucks....I get "reality" for free every day. Lets see someone make a movie on the flat tire I had on the freeway last week ...or the wonderful conversation with the TOW guy :) Very real, very boring! In great writing, tragety seem a mainstay. but in OUR real world we see so much injustice, so much pain. What is "wrong" with a happy ending?As for the reviewer who said he thought it was funny.....great, you can view it as a comedy. Once you may your two bits...its your choice:)"
Who knew Puritans could be so...cool
David Michael Cohen | California | 03/18/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of Joffe's "The Scarlet Letter" plead with people to disregard the book and take the movie on its own merits. This is absurd reasoning, as a remake of any sort invites comparisons by its very nature. It is particularly pointless in this case, because even if there had been no novel to compare it with, "The Scarlet Letter" would still have been an embarassing flop.
Although obstensibly set in a 17th century Puritan community, the movie makes no attempt whatsoever to establish time and place through characterization or action. Demi Moore's character is a free thinking, independant woman who befriends her pagan neighbors (who act like stereotypical hippies) and politely ignores the scorn of the town elders. In other words, she's a cool 90's chick. Gary Oldman is a strong yet sensitive type with a goatee, respectful to women and the local native tribes. He's a cool 90's dude. Granted there have been independant thinkers in every age, but this degree of anachronism makes about as much sense as a caveman invenitng a computer out of rocks and hides.
Since Demi and Gary are both free-thinkers in a repressive (i.e. uncool) society, you just know they're going to get together as soon as Demi's husband dies. When she ends up pregnant though, and her husband turns out to be alive, she just accepts the situation and moves on with self-assured smugness. Of course, her uncool neighbors can't accept this situation, but no matter how much they condemn her, it only makes Demi's resolve stronger. For his part, Gary longs to reveal himself as the father (sensitive guy that he is) but Demi insists that he remain quiet so she can nobly go endure the community's ire alone. Of course, you just know they'll end up together in the end.
Perhaps the worst thing about "The Scarlet Letter" is the numerous missed opportunities to inject emotionally mature drama. Demi's character is a born and raised Puritan, shouldn't she feel some guilt and shame over her situation? Why is Gary, a man from a patriarchal society, submissively letting Demi tell him what to do? Does the Puritan community have any sense of structure and purpose besides condeming people? Unfortunately, none of these angles are explored. Instead we are supposed to focus solely on the juvenile, "this couple is too cool for their environment" plotline.
Yes there is a steamy sex-scene, but so what? Perhaps if they had steered the movie more in this direction, they could have made it a stimulating (but still silly) bit of erotica. Unfortunately "The Scarlet Letter" was intended to be drama, and with its sophmoric story and absurd characters, that is a pretense it simply can't live up to."