Criterion Collection: Joan Of Arc (1928)

( 4 )

Overview

The Passion of Joan of Arc La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc is widely regarded as Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's finest achievement and one of the greatest films of all time. Dreyer recreates the trial and execution of St. Joan with near-documentary authenticity, as if one were present at the actual 15th century event and both defendant and accusers were the genuine article. The director's use of huge, probing close-ups -- detailing every pockmark and even the saliva at the sides of the mouths -- adds a shocking...
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Overview

The Passion of Joan of Arc La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc is widely regarded as Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's finest achievement and one of the greatest films of all time. Dreyer recreates the trial and execution of St. Joan with near-documentary authenticity, as if one were present at the actual 15th century event and both defendant and accusers were the genuine article. The director's use of huge, probing close-ups -- detailing every pockmark and even the saliva at the sides of the mouths -- adds a shocking immediacy which makes it hard to believe that this film is nearly 70 years old. As Joan, Renée Maria Falconetti in her only film transcends mere praise. The Passion of Joan of Arc is a silent film, but the original transcripts of Joan's trial are brilliantly conveyed by the pantomime of the actors. The film's title is supremely double-edged -- Joan's "passion" is shown to be as erotic as it is spiritual.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
One of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema, Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc glows with the fervor of spiritual and aesthetic single-mindedness that is so intense it's almost blinding. With a script culled from the actual proceedings that led to Joan of Arc's burning at the stake, the movie seems an artifact from a lost time. Dreyer imagines the French saint's ordeal as an exalted passage to grace. Insisting that his actors not wear makeup, he captures images of indelible immediacy; Joan's sad, soulful eyes and the craggy faces of her leering inquisitors stay with you. The realism is as much emotional as it is physical. Recognizing that the truth of the story lay less in historical accuracy than in psychological nakedness, Dreyer painted an almost abstract march to martyrdom. The spare, blinding-white set seems stylized, as is Dreyer's high-pitched visual strategy, which relies heavily on close-ups. Frequently, you're left with little but a harsh cascade of them, with no wider shots to ground the action in a given space -- the drama literally transpires across the human face. Holding it all together is Renée Maria Falconetti, in one of the great performances in film history. Her mournful eyes wide with rapture, Falconetti seems under a spell, as is the viewer by her. The performance was too great, so intense that Falconetti never returned in front of the camera again. The movie and her performance have since inspired imitations, most notably in the work of Danish director Lars von Trier, whose melodramas of female suffering seem almost tawdry by comparison. As influential as it is singular, The Passion of Joan of Arc remains many decades later an overwhelming experience and an undiminished tour de force.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/13/2000
  • UPC: 037429139738
  • Original Release: 1928
  • Source: Homevision
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Renée Maria Falconetti Joan of Arc
Eugène Silvain Bishop Pierre Couchon
Antonin Artaud Jean Massieu
Ravet Jean Beaupère
Maurice Schutz Nicholas Loyseleur
André Berley Jean d'Estivet
Michel Simon Jean Lemaitre
Jacques Ama
Alexandre Mihalesco
Jean D'Yd Guillaume Evrard
Henri Maillard
Technical Credits
Carl Theodor Dreyer Director, Editor, Screenwriter
Rudolph Maté Cinematographer
Hermann Warm Production Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    incredible

    caught this on tmc's silent sunday night last week, and it blew me away--i had to buy it on dvd. the first half was good, but the second half really let falconetti show what she could do. i've never seen anyone carry a movie on facial expression the way that she did. it was beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wow. Such Art!

    I have long owned a copy of the CD ''Voices of Light'' (the recent sound tract to this 1928 film) I stumbled upon a used copy of this film and was amazed at how well the aura of the music is captured on film. If you are a fan of the group Anonymous 4, as I am, you will love this bit of history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Amazing

    I rented this film because I had heard it contained interesting visual precursors to Film Noir and was not expecting to be ''captured'', as I was. I was truly amazed at the power of this film. The use of close-ups throughout the film, at first seems contrived and quirky, but by the end, they give you a keyhole view into what could have been a documentary from the 15th century. I was moved and got a genuine sense of the pain and sorrow Joan went through. Falconetti was wonderful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews