By: Alex Phuong (Three Beers) –
Nathaniel Hawthorne remains a major figure in Nineteenth Century American literature. His work includes The House of Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance. His most celebrated novel, though, is most likely The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s classic tale of sin, guilt, and redemption shook the literary landscape when it was published in 1850, and has been hailed as a seminal romance. Its romantic elements are perhaps why Roland Joffé chose to direct a film version that was released 145 years later in 1995.
This film is undoubtedly romantic. The love between Hester Prynne and Dimmesdale is very raw, palpable, and visceral. There are also very passionate scenes that highlight the romance between the two lovers. Demi Moore also delivers a great performance as Hester Prynne, and the American Urban Radio Networks called it her “finest performance”! It is no surprise that Hawthorne’s romantic novel would light up the screen with its intensely sensual story.
Like many film adaptations, this film deviates significantly from the original novel. The opening credits even said that this film is “freely adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne.” Readers should be aware that this film is almost nothing like Hawthorne’s classic so that they won’t feel disappointed if they choose to watch this movie after reading the book.
This film has received a lot of criticism from critics, audiences, and the Razzie Awards. In fact, this film has been condemned at the Razzies as the “Worst Remake of Sequel” while also receiving an additional six nominations, including “Worst Picture.” It is also kind of funny that this film received seven Razzie nominations because the letter “s” and the number “7” both relate to “sin,” and the name “Hester Prynne” rhymes with “sin.”
Students have studied Hawthorne’s classic novel for years. Some would say that the novel is unforgettable, which is probably why it has remained a timeless tale. Hester’s scarlet letter was a letter “A,” and this film received its own scarlet letter with its “R” rating. Students who would prefer to not complete their reading assignments should not rely on this film as a substitution for reading Hawthorne’s novel, or else their teachers might give them a scarlet letter “F.” (You have been warned!)
The Scarlet Letter (1995) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Hester’s daughter, Pearl, provides voice-over narration
Take a Drink: for every romantic and passionate moment
Take a Drink: every time the Native Americans and Colonists speak Algonquin (which is a Native American language)
Drink a Shot: every time the red scarlet bird flies around in this disastrously sinful motion picture