The Scarlet Letter

1995 R 2h 15m DVD

The Scarlet Letter

1995 R 2h 15m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
In this adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, Puritan settler Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) is accused of adultery in a Massachusetts settlement in the 1660s. Although she's attracted to the town's pastor (Gary Oldman), the two resist temptation. But only a whiff of scandal is enough for the town's morality police to sentence Prynne to live as an outcast and wear a shameful scarlet &NFi;A&NFi_; for adultery.
Demi Moore, Gary Oldman, Robert Duvall, Lisa Joliffe-Andoh, Edward Hardwicke, Robert Prosky, Roy Dotrice, Joan Plowright, Malcolm Storry, James Bearden
Roland Joffé
Full Screen 1.33:1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 17+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 17+
age 17+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this historical melodrama has bloody violence -- throat slashings, scalpings, shootings -- plus attempted rape. Brief male and female nudity are shown in a non-sexual context and several sex scenes are non-explicit. Students who watch this movie as a shortcut for reading the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel should wear the scarlet "S" (for slacker), and know that it deviates from the the book a lot.

Sexual Content

Full male nudity shown in a skinny-dipping context. Hester is briefly completely naked from the side as she bathes. Topless Indian women. A non-explicit sex scene between Hester and Arthur.


Bloody violence emphasizes throat slashings, arrows in the neck ,and spurting, severed arteries (and scalpings) in Indian attacks. The white militia slays Indians with guns. A gruesomely mutilated corpse. A near-rape. One character's eye gouged. Roger Prynne messes with a gory, gutted deer. Death by hanging. Dimmesdale self-mutilates (gripping a gallows until blood runs from his hands).


"Slut." Puritans discuss sex in euphemistic fashion ("poking," "private parts").

Social Behavior

General criticism of repressive religious patriarchies that restrict/punish free thought, especially as it relates to love and sensuality. The idea that a couple's love can be stronger than social conventions and rules.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Not applicable

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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