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The Scarlet Letter
(Der Scarlachrote Buchstabe)
West Germany/Spain - 1972
Directed by Wim Wenders


An early-American story about a woman who is forced by the Puritan community in which she lives to wear the letter "A" across her breast, to punish her for the sin of adultery.  She and her illegitimate child must go each day to the public square and stand, bearing the shame.  Her partner in sin, however, must bear the guilt of letting her face the shame alone, as he is a respected clergyman who knows that he will be ruined if word gets out. He is tortured by his inability to confess, knowing that he lacks the grace that she demonstrates.

This version of the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic appears very dated in terms of costumes and makeup.  However, Wim Wenders approach to the tale has its own merit.  The use of wide-angle shots, revealing seemingly endless horizons evoke a sense of the looming largeness of the newly settled continent.  A bizarre soundtrack by Jurgen Kneiper uses American-style gospel music as an expression of the Early American religious mores.

Runtime:  90 Minutes

 

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