"A" Bomb

But, in a sense, what Joff has done to The Scarlet Letter is worse than Tate's Lear overhaul. Shakespeare's play is an almost surreal folktale with no real social context--it could as easily have ended happily. Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is all social context, and the author--descendant of a judge in the Salem witch trials--knew the terrain.

For a woman to resist the theocratic patriarchy of Puritan New England would be roughly equivalent to a Shiite Muslim woman doing so in modern-day Iran, yet, in Joff's film, it carries no more dramatic weight than if Hester had resisted joining a bridge club or a sewing circle.

Every woman--every person--who ever stood up to a repressive social order, and the rest of us who admire such people, have a right to be a little offended by this movie's flinching. These filmmakers should each be made to wear publicly a scarlet "W," for "wimp."

The Scarlet Letter: Directed by Roland Jeffe; with Demi Moore, Gary Oldman and Robert Duval.

Rated R.

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