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Sin or Saint

“The Scarlet Letter” is a highly sexual movie remake of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel. Starring Demi Moore as Hester Prynne, Gary Oldman as Arthur Dimmesdale and Robert Duvall as Roger Chillingworth. The movie is in a league of it’s own and that’s not really a compliment. Literary purists should be aghast at some of the liberties taken with the original text, but the complaints have more to do with cinematic misjudgments and drastic change in plot than those in the book-to-screen translation.First and foremost the movie opens considerably in advance of the novel’s first scene, and the script by Douglas Day Stewart delves deeply into early events only hinted in Hawthornes tale. Though much of this background, despite being speculative, works, although it takes forever for the romance between Hester and Dimmesdale to get off the ground. This is because of Hesters circumstances. Hester comes to the Puritan stronghold at the Massachusetts Bay Colony to escape religious persecution in England. Her husband Roger has sent her ahead to set up house. Already the good folk are scandalized by her intention to live alone until her husband arrives. Hester meets Dimmesdale, who she has already seen, covertly, swimming like a glorious serpent in a woodland waterfall. Combustion is immediate and she finds herself completely indured by the fiery young minister. Hesters persistence, knowledge and beauty also draw Dimmesdale. Although they scrupulously avoid each other to put off what nature has inexorably in store for them, when word arrives that her husband’s ship has been attacked by Indians, no survivors, she flings herself into the lusty reverend’s arms. This is when they conceal their love for each other. Later the Puritan colonists of the 17th century Boston discover that Hester, the wife of the absent doctor, is pregnant by a man whose name she refuses to yield, she is thrown i...

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