The passion of Joan of Arc

DVD - 1999 | French
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Dramatization of the life of Joan of Arc centering on her trial and execution.
Publisher: [New York] : Criterion Collection, c1999
ISBN: 9780780022348
Branch Call Number: FRE MOVIE PAS
Language Note: Silent film with French intertitles, optional English subtitles and optional oratorio soundtrack sung in Latin and French
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (82 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in


From Library Staff

What it didn't get: 1928/29 Oscar for Best Cinematography

Dramatization of the life of Joan of Arc centering on her trial and execution.

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Mar 04, 2018

Cencored before its release in 1928, the original negative was soon destroyed by fire.
A second negative reedited by Dreyer from alternate takes was also thought lost to fire.
For more than a half-century, this classic of silent film was known only in mutilated copies, or in a sonorized version which made numerous changes to the original.
Then in 1981 an original Danish copy, complete and in very good condition, was miraculously discovered in a closet of a Norwegian mental institution.
The Cinémathèque Française has been able to reconstitute this French version very close to the origina.
At the time of its initiaal release it was presented with various pieces of music performed live, and there is no information that Carl Dreyer ever selected a definitive score for his film.
However, Richard Einhorn's "Voices of Light" adds an extra dimension to Dryer's film.
Not actually a score, but rather music inspired by the film, Einhorn's work interweaves medieval texts and original music to comment both on the legend of Joan and Dreyer's depiction of her.
So, you should view the silent movie with "Voices of Light".
Otherwise, you would go to sleep somewhere in the film.
If you're a Joan-of-Arc fan, this is a must-see; otherwise, forget it.

Feb 03, 2018

With Danish director, Carl Dreyer clearly going against the grain here in direct defiance of glamour and beauty - I'd say that as a perceptive film-maker - He was also something of a sadist to deliberately drag his audience through such an unpleasant religious-based hell as this.

I mean - What an absolutely damning statement about the hypocrisy of Christianity this film's story inevitably made.

Now 90 years old - This hideously bleak freakshow of stark, barren sets and unflattering close-ups sort of reminded me (in an odd way) of David Lynch's "Eraserhead".

For me - The undeniably best moment in this truly unpleasant, yet strangely compelling, cinematic experience was, of course, Joan's tear-filled head-shaving scene.

I think it's interesting to note that actress, Renee Falconetti (who played the Joan character) said that she never understood all of the positive reaction to her performance.

Nov 01, 2017

Carl Dreyer's most universally acclaimed masterpiece remains one of the most staggeringly intense films ever made.

Dec 19, 2014

In the role of Joan stage actress Maria Falconetti brings a frightening intensity to the screen; her face exhibiting an unsettling mixture of tenacious faith and mortal terror (with a touch of mental illness?) as she struggles to understand the charges being laid against her. Her ordeal begins to mirror the passion of Christ as she is mocked and ridiculed by her accusers, at one point a length of coiled rope is placed on her head like a crown of thorns. Dreyer deliberately films all his characters without stage make-up causing every wart and blemish to stand out in high relief, the result is both austere and vulnerably human. Furthermore, the spartan sets heighten the movie’s sense of gravity while focusing our attention on the fierce emotions playing out on the actors’ faces. The use of extreme close-ups may be overdone at times, some unnecessarily awkward camerawork doesn’t always work (the inverted crane shots were especially baffling), and the occasional anachronism reminds you that it is not 1431, but there are moments of pure cinema throughout; a prolonged scene of Joan’s burning corpse sliding down the stake while angry peasants revolt in the streets was undeniably powerful. Although Dreyer’s later film, Day of Wrath revisited the topic of church atrocities with greater effect (review posted), this early work still manages to hold its own eighty years later.

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