The Scarlet Letter

October 13th, 1995


The Scarlet Letter

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Still of Demi Moore and Robert Duvall in The Scarlet LetterStill of Demi Moore and Gary Oldman in The Scarlet LetterStill of Demi Moore in The Scarlet LetterSentenced by the governing religious body of the Puritan colony to publicly wear a red letter Demi Moore and Roland Joffé in The Scarlet LetterHester Prynne (Demi Moore), Reverend Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman) and their illegitimate daughter Pearl (Bella Bruce) must fight to be recognized as a family.

In 1666 in the Massachusetts Bay colony, Puritans and Algonquian have an uneasy truce. Hester arrives from England...

Release Year: 1995

Rating: 4.7/10 (7,479 voted)

Director: Roland Joffé

Stars: Demi Moore, Gary Oldman, Robert Duvall

In 1666 in the Massachusetts Bay colony, Puritans and Algonquian have an uneasy truce. Hester arrives from England, seeking independence. Awaiting her husband, she establishes independence, fixing up a house, befriending Quakers and other outsiders. Passion draws her to a young pastor. He feels the same; when they learn her husband has probably died at the hands of Indians, they consummate their love. A child is born, and on the day Hester is publicly humiliated and made to wear a scarlet letter, her husband appears after a year with Indians. Calling himself Chillingworth, he seeks revenge, searching out Hester's lover and stirring fears of witchcraft. Will his murderous plot succeed?

Writers: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Douglas Day Stewart

Demi Moore - Hester Prynne
Gary Oldman - Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale
Robert Duvall - Roger Chillingworth
Lisa Andoh - Mituba (as Lisa Joliffe-Andoh)
Edward Hardwicke - Gov. John Bellingham
Robert Prosky - Horace Stonehall
Roy Dotrice - Rev. Thomas Cheever
Joan Plowright - Harriet Hibbons
Malcolm Storry - Maj. Dunsmuir
James Bearden - Goodman Mortimer (as Jim Bearden)
Larissa Laskin - Goody Mortimer
Amy Wright - Goody Gotwick
George Aguilar - Johnny Sassamon
Tim Woodward - Brewster Stonehall
Joan Gregson - Elizabeth Cheever

Taglines: When intimacy is forbidden and passion is a sin, love is the most defiant crime of all.

Release Date: 13 October 1995

Filming Locations: Oyster River, British Columbia, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $50,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $10,400,000 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Three original scores were written for this film. The ones by Ennio Morricone and Elmer Bernstein were rejected. The one used was by John Barry.

Revealing mistakes: When Hester starts to follow the red bird into the forest, once she's gotten deeper in the woods, you can see to the left of the screen three deliberate puffs of white smoke coming from a fog machine.

Dr. Roger Prynne: Has this new land turned thee into a heathen?

User Review

Not that bad, actually

Rating: 6/10

I was expecting something really awful, but once I got about 15 minutes into the movie, I decided that the only way to enjoy it was to forget that it was "based on" a famous novel and just enjoy the movie for what it was. And I found myself very entertained.

I was impressed with Gary Oldman's performance. It's nice to see him portray someone who isn't a psychotic ham and he did admirably well. Demi Moore suprised me with her acting and apart from a few stilted scenes and discomfort with the dialogue, I think she pulled it off pretty well. I found myself caring about her character and her relationship with Dimmesdale. Perhaps the bathing scene was a little too gratuitous -- c'mon, Demi, do you need to show it all? -- but it was only a few minutes out of 135.

I wish that Pearl could have been given more screen time and character development and the woman who did her voiceover throughout the story left much to be desired. As did Robert Duvall's performance. I didn't much like his acting in this movie at all.

The supporting cast was excellent: Joan Plowright, Edward Hardwicke, and others. The locations and set design were exquisite and the costumes were gorgeous.

Overall, I thought it was a very good way to spend a couple hours. You see some early colonial atmosphere, something which is almost extinct in movies nowadays, and adequate and sometimes inspired acting. Just don't expect to see Hawthorne's novel on the screen. If you want to see the unhappy ending in all its self-mutilating glory, see Lillian Gish's silent version that is sometimes aired on Turner Classic Movies. 6/10


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