The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

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Overview

In the 15th century, France is mired in the 100 Years War when a humble voice appears, claiming to have been instructed by the Lord to lead the French army into battle and defend their land against the British. The voice belongs to Jeanne d'Aragon, a teenage girl from a tiny village, and, to the surprise of many, her story does not fall on deaf ears. Wearing the armor of a soldier, the girl known as Joan of Arc leads the French troops in what she believes is a holy battle. Joan would soon be tried for heresy for ...
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Overview

In the 15th century, France is mired in the 100 Years War when a humble voice appears, claiming to have been instructed by the Lord to lead the French army into battle and defend their land against the British. The voice belongs to Jeanne d'Aragon, a teenage girl from a tiny village, and, to the surprise of many, her story does not fall on deaf ears. Wearing the armor of a soldier, the girl known as Joan of Arc leads the French troops in what she believes is a holy battle. Joan would soon be tried for heresy for her actions, but history would vindicate her with sainthood. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc stars Milla Jovovich as Joan of Arc, Faye Dunaway as Yolande d'Aragon, and Dustin Hoffman as The Grand Inquisitor. Directed by Luc Besson, The Messenger was originally titled Joan of Arc but added the prefix to avoid confusion with the 1999 TV movie of the same name, which starred Leelee Sobieski.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/2/2008
  • UPC: 043396256194
  • Original Release: 1999
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Region Code: ABC
  • Time: 2:38:00
  • Format: Blu-ray

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Milla Jovovich Joan of Arc
John Malkovich Charles VII
Faye Dunaway Yolande d’Aragon
Dustin Hoffman Joan's conscience
Pascal Greggory Duke of Alencon
Richard Ridings La Hire
Desmond Harrington Aulon
Timothy West
Vincent Cassel Gilles de Rais
Tchéky Karyo Dunois
Vincent Tulli Orleans' Physician
Toby Jones British Judge
Technical Credits
Luc Besson Director, Screenwriter
Thierry Arbogast Cinematographer
Andrew Birkin Screenwriter
Robert Le Corre Set Decoration/Design
Georges Demetreau Special Effects Supervisor
Duboi Special Effects
Frederic Garson Asst. Director
Stephane Gluck Asst. Director
Bernard Grenet Co-producer
Sylvie Landra Editor
Patrice Ledoux Producer
Catherine Leterrier Costumes/Costume Designer
Alain Paroutaud Art Director
Alain Pitrel Set Decoration/Design
Eric Serra Score Composer
Lucinda Syson Casting
Hugues Tissandier Production Designer
Vincent Tulli Sound Editor, Sound/Sound Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting take on the farce of organized religion.

    Interesting take on the farce of organized religion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Very good but needs some work...

    I have always been a big fan of these type of movies...and I must say, I enjoyed this one very much. Although there were some scenes and a few lines that had to be polished or changed...it was quite good. I liked the fact that the director took a risk and gave a daring approach to the saint of France. It is very different from the original movies about Joan of Arc...but thats what makes it good. Its different! The fight scenes are very well made and the power in Milla's deliverence of Joan of Arc is quite profounding. It almost gives you chills at the sound of her voice booming across the battlefields. Again...this is set in a more modern and daring approach, so it might not please everyones taste. I recommend this movie if you enjoy watching Milla Jovovich, big battle scenes, or anything to do with that time-period. The costumes are excellent and the music is just brilliant. Luke Besson gave a different approach, of what just might have been "Jeanne d'Arc" ( where her voices from God..or was she mental? )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Licentious but Worthy

    I have read my share of acidic reviews about this movie and, while I agree that it will not echo through the ages, I disagree with a lot of the aficionados of history and cinema who have trashed it mercilessly. By their reasoning, in my opinion, Braveheart should be rolling in the mud right next to this film (but that's another story). In fact, this film is not so abominable as many drama queens have professed. True, Milla Jovovich could stand for a few more acting lessons, for it seems as though she was took the direction to be adamantly religious and channeled all of her energy into being, frankly, a stark raving lunatic. While I respect Luc Besson's daring approach to Saint Joan, I believe he portrayed her as less of the saint that she was and more of the frenzied live-wire that he thought Hollywood would enjoy, which is a shamefully common thing for directors of historical films to do. Joan of Arc was in fact, as Leelee Sobieski portrayed in the made-for-TV version, a calm and insistent woman, upholding more of the Christian ideals of temperance and unwavering faith that made her the prime candidate for canonization when the Catholic Church reexamined her case five centuries later. Besson and Jovovich shifted away from these ideals and placed Joan in the mindset of the mad God-fearing freak, highlighting her suspected schizophrenia and bending the mold of history slightly. Although, as I see it, the historical innacuracies were not appalling, Joan of Arc never slaughtered anyone in battle -- she usually never carried a sword at all. However, I was impressed with the film's portrayal of Medieval warfare. Those who decry the film's gore as disgusting and denounce the film as inaccurate do not know what they are talking about. Medieval warfare was disgusting and brutal -- fifteenth century weapons were not designed to kill in grace or style, nor to end wars with speed (as we see in the name the Hundred Years' War). That is a piece of historical accuracy in the film that audiences with weak stomachs couldn't handle. With regards to the other elements of the film, I found myself satisfied. The sets were complete and attractive to the historically discriminating eye, as I would expect from an on-location shoot, and the music was quite attractive (though it wasn't Danny Elfman or John Williams). Generally, I wasn't impressed with the acting, although both Faye Dunaway and Dustin Hoffman filled their characters well, as many "big-name" actors do not, instead relying on their past fame as a cushion. In conclusion, I'll say in summary that while the film has some gaudy, tasteless Hollywood historical innacuracies, it is still a good movie, and I felt from Jovovich's bizarre representation of Joan's character both empathy and startled reverence toward the obscure peasant martyr. While many facts are known about Joan from the documents of her trial, Jovovich colors the character intensely, although to many picky audiences the colors don't match.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    So bad it hurt.

    No need to write a novel about how bad this was for me. It was one of the most unsatisfactory movies I've ever watched. So cluttered and directionless I almost threw up. A fine example of how "not" to make a movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Poor Treatment of a Saint

    Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional) film attempts to portray Joan of Arc as less saintly than history with mixed results. Certainly, the historical facts can lead many to wonder if Joan of Arc was suffering from a dissociative disorder as opposed to being divinely led, but Luc Besson's version and Jojovich's horrible acting defy historical facts. Because of her trial, more facts are known about Joan of Arc than almost any other person from Medieval Europe. Joan of Arc was never the ravening lunatic portrayed in the film: she was quiet and persistent. Joan of Arc never shed any blood in her battles: she usually carried only a banner. Most importantly, Joan of Arc never recanted her story or renounced her faith as shown in the film. Throughout her trial, she stayed true to her story that her mission against England was divinely commanded. The movie completely distorts these facts. Joan of Arc is portrayed as a demented lunatic who's out for blood. The movie also shows her recanting her story and forsaking her faith which is untrue. These alterations of fact are disappointing in that they distort the best qualities of this fascintating historical figure: a brave girl who, facing the horrible prospect of being burnt alive when only 18, ardently defended her cause and sincerity until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not a Documentary: Impressionistic and Visionary

    Maybe this is one of those cases in which you either love or hate a film (book, play, sculpture, photo...) so I have to recognize the possibility that you may think of ''The Messenger...'' as a load of filth. But to me, while not a piece of documentary genius, this film is nonetheless quite a visual and emotional work. The facts of Jeanne's life have always been couched in literary license, from the folk tales associated with her exploits to the romanticization of her quest in the writings of Mark Twain. There are even supposedly accurate records of her words and deeds from the period. Well, the same could be said of the words and deeds of Christ as portrayed in the Gospel. Much debate is present about the accuracy of most religious figures and the case is the same for Jeanne. That being said, this film does not attempt to chronical history as much as it tries to give the viewer an impression of the experiences of heroism and fanaticism, traits that are not limited to figures of historical and religious significance. The story is more a treatise on one element of common human experience. And in that attempt, I believe this film excels. I believe Besson has captured the feelings and impressions common to all of us, whether related to visionary quests in the name of a god, or highly motivated pursuits in our work or personal life. We are all capable of true vision and the dangers of self delusion and pride. As far as a work of craft or art, the film excels in creating a vision as illusary and impressionistic as those of Jeanne herself. The mood is both light and dark; our grasp on reality shifts like the feelings we experience in pursuit of personal objectives. The rollercoaster ride is accented by violence, reverie and hope, just like life. Mila is astounding, frenetic in her quest while contrastingly restrained in her moments of doubt. I believe that once you dig deeper than the boyish cover-girl surface, you find a willingness to enrapture herself in the moment unabashedly. The way that Besson plays with dialog is one of my favorite techniques as seen in various Besson films. It keeps you guessing, with words implied and juxtraposed acoss conversations and scenes. That topsy-turvy style of writing keeps the moment fresh while forcing the observer to listen and ponder. I believe that this film is not for everyone, and recommend the TV film that came out at the same time to those who prefer a portrayal of Jeanne that respects the historical and spiritual perspective, while recommending ''The Messenger'' to those who like to see history as allegory for our own lives. Actually, I have both films on dvd and appreciate each for their own merits, although I watch ''The Messenger'' over and over because it's appeal goes beyond historical documentarianism.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Besson's ''The Messenger''

    Both the director and scriptwriter have confirmed that the film's intent was to show, in essence, that Joan allegedly betrayed her religion by leading an army (hence the ''Thou Shalt Not Kill'' message, the scene with a bloodied Jesus figure who asks her why she's hurting Him, etc). Luc Besson had the following to say about the film's take on the subject: ''... it was wrong to participate in the massacres. 'Thou shalt not kill' - that's a commandment.'' Actually, the commandment is believed to be ''Thou shalt not murder'', a distinction no longer made by the modern ''Woodstock Christianity'' which is here being inserted, ironically enough, into a war film about a medieval military saint. The film's creators decided that Joan must have been moved by revenge rather than religion, for which they inserted a fictitious rape / murder scene in order to give her a motive for hating the English - in contradiction to the documents, in which her compassion for English soldiers is repeatedly described by the eyewitnesses. The evidence also contradicts the film's version of Joan as a twitchy, hysterical neurotic; in fact the eyewitnesses said repeatedly that she, quote, ''speaks little, [and] demonstrates remarkable prudence in her speech''; she was able to hold her own against trained theologians and devise ''new stratagems that two or three of the most experienced commanders could not have done'', etc. Besson has also indicated, based on comments in ''Le Monde'' and elsewhere, that he was apparently attracted to doing a film about Joan of Arc because he thought she was androgynous like the character played by his (then) lover Milla Jovovich in ''The Fifth Element'', and so he found them both ''sexy''. One reviewer, Kathryn Norberg, dryly commented that this seems a pretty thin premise upon which to make a movie about Saint Joan; it also contradicts eyewitness accounts which speak of Joan's feminine beauty. The film is no more respectful of history than it is of Joan herself, despite claims by the distributor that the movie was based upon careful research. Some viewers were impressed by the bloody mess created as giant spinning propellers lop off the heads of any soldier unfortunate enough to get in the way (ah yes, it was those giant propellers which made the late-medieval battlefield the brutal arena that it was); some even made absurd comparisons to Spielberg's excellent ''Saving Private Ryan''. But whereas the latter movie featured reasonably authentic tactics and weapons, and the characteristic wounds produced by those weapons, Besson's film is merely gory for the sake of being gory. While we've all become resigned to silly Hollywood films that distort history, the shameful treatment of La Pucelle in this one marks a low point for the genre. Film critic Charles Taylor has said that ''The Messenger'' was the only movie he has ever called ''vulgar'', which is perhaps as good a way of summing it up as any.

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    Posted November 4, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2009

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