Criterion Collection: Joan Of Arc (1928)

Criterion Collection: Joan Of Arc (1928)

5.0 4
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Cast: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Renée Maria Falconetti, Eugène Silvain, Antonin Artaud

     
 

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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 accusersSee more details below

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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
Danish director Carl Dreyer's silent masterpiece still looks as astonishingly avant-garde today as it did 70 years ago. And stage actress Renée Falconetti remains the definitive Joan of Arc: As the maiden who led an army in defense of France, was burned at the stake as a heretic, and later canonized as a saint, she gives one of the screen's most remarkable performances. Dreyer chronicles Joan's trial and execution almost entirely in close-ups, isolating faces and objects at startling angles against stark backgrounds. The young martyr's face; tearful eyes cast heavenward; the fleshy, smirking countenances of her merciless judges; the sculpted features of Antonin Artaud (a memorable presence in the film) -- all become monumental canvases upon which every shade of human emotion registers with unparalleled intensity. Dreyer's original version, unearthed in a Norwegian mental institution and beautifully restored, is enhanced here by Richard Einhorn's exquisite choral score, Voices of Light. For those who have only seen inferior prints of the film, this splendid Criterion disc will come as a glorious revelation.
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:
06/13/2000
UPC:
0037429139738
Original Release:
1928
Source:
Homevision

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