Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Passion of Joan of Arc is the masterpiece from Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer that depicts the story of French martyr Joan from Orleans seven years after her canonization from the catholic church.
I watched this twice, back to back. Once with sound, once without. Both times I was gobsmacked by what was laid out before me on screen. Watching this film feels like having the weight of our history looking over your shoulder with you. It is teeming with historical framing and importance, regarding both its shape and content.
Completely ignoring historical context Dreyer’s film opts to relate Joan of Arc’s story by focussing on her trial and execution and the suffering that went along with it. No sweeping shots of her military victories, no familiar backdrop, it assumes that its audience knows who we’re dealing with here and chooses to focus on her last days and how she suffered through them.…
I am not a religious man. Growing up, my mother took me to church because she felt she should, an obligation rather than any actual deep connection to a deity or the scripture that was referenced each week. My father would spend each Sunday morning out in nature, taking walks or just sitting and reflecting on the beauty of the world around him, thus he would rarely if ever join us at church. As I hated going and found the one hour to be painfully boring, absorbing nothing from the teachings of Jesus Christ, I finally spoke up and asked my old man why it was fair that I had to go and he didn't.
He explained that he did…
I never believed the hype. A film made in the 20s, a silent film made in the 20s, being declared by some to be the best film ever made? Sounds like something only a film historian could say. Sounds like homework, like you have to know about film in the 20s to see how this one sets itself apart. Yawn. At least it is only 82 minutes.
I believe the hype now, and I ain't no film historian.
Dreyer didn't want to tell the story of Joan of Arc, he wanted to tell the story of The Passion of Joan of Arc. If Joan is God's daughter, she met the same fate as her brother. Both had trials. Both were…
After a recent watch of Mexican director Carlos Reygadas’ wonderful Silent Light, and subsequent urging from LB friends to seek out Dreyer’s Ordet, it became apparent that it was time to tackle Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc from our list of shame as a warm up.
As a reference point, we watched the Criterion DVD with the Voices of Light musical accompaniment track. As another point of reference, my historical knowledge of Joan of Arc was woefully lacking, as is my knowledge of silent film.
I’ll just begin by saying that it’s visually arresting. The ability to see this startling beauty is due to the discovery of a near pristine original print in 1981 and subsequent Criterion restoration,…
''Will I be with You tonight in Paradise?''
An old English proverb states ''The eyes are the windows to the soul'', and never has that statement seemed so apt as it does with this astounding work from Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent era. Never have I seen such a powerful testament to faith under persecution as this film presents, with it's painfully tortured performance from Maria Falconetti as Jeanne d'Arc who embodies strength and devotion under heretical judgement even unto the bittersweet end.
The way Dreyer frames and focuses on the faces of his subjects is an inspired decision in finding the truth in the material and making the actors accountable to their performance. Every tear shed is like blade to…
The first time I had seen this film, I watched it in complete and utter silence as Dreyer originally intended it to be. Even without a musical score, the images displayed before me resonated deeply and I knew I was witnessing something to marvel and behold. But yet there always felt like there was something missing in my time thinking back on that first watch. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on that prevented it from "feeling" like a perfect film in my eyes. I was determined that with my rewatch I would seek out the now famous "Visions of Light" score to accompany it to see how musical composition may affect the viewing experience. Well ladies and gentlemen,…
A while back I ordered this at my local music and video store (yes, these still exist where I live), and thought I was gonna go right home and watch it, and of course love it.
Half of that, if not less, came true. I TRIED to watch it, but after 10-15 minutes I was gone, as good as dead, sleeping through one of the GREAT masterpieces, which just also happened to be by a Danish director (I should add that I am danish).
Could it be that I found the great masterpiece of the great Danish director to be.. dull? I could already hear the riots outside my window from angry danes accusing me of treason, and smell…
With 2005 Mie Yanashita score.
The Passion of Joan of Arc has sustained a reputation as a masterpiece of cinema since its release in 1928, and even today, it's very clear to see why. Carl Theodor Dreyer's direction is inspired, keeping most every shot a close up of a face. Most of the close-ups are of one face in particular: that of Falconetti. There's some dispute about her name--many sources list her as Maria Falconetti, but Wikipedia insists her name is Renee Jeanne Falconetti--but regardless of what her first name is, Falconetti ended up undeniably having the most famous face in silent cinema. Roughly half of the film is a direct close-up of her face, contorting in anguish and suffering or widening the eyes in…
I was lucky enough to see this film at The Detroit Institute of Art with the Voices of Light Chorus and Symphony backing up the performance. Seeing this film is the most I have ever cried to cinema in my life. Worth every moment and more.
The Passion of Joan of Arc is a visually striking recounting of the eponymous girl's trial and ultimate punishment. The images Carl Theodor Dreyer presents are exceptional, particularly when you consider this is b-footage he used after the original print was destroyed in a fire.
I was particularly struck by the way the light reflects off Joan's glassy, tear-filled eyes. Combined with the use of closeup, it creates a rather beautiful and haunting image. Joan's ceaselessly bewildered expression is overused but effective nevertheless.
What the film lacks in expository detail it more than makes up for with a deeper look at Joan as a person. You won't learn much about or see Joan's exploits on the battlefield, for instance. You…
Concentrating Joan's trial into one day and consisting largely of interrogations, this masterful late silent film is brilliantly edited and photographed. Somehow it manages to transcend the necessity of sound which you would think the film cries out for bearing in mind the subject matter. With marvellously expressive faces captured in extreme close-up, Dreyer's eloquent film is unequalled in its intensity and power..
I can say how great Dreyer's direction was; how finely written the script was, based on the transcript of the trial; the editing; the technical achievements; the overall production that's garnered its own legacy, and so on; but I want to keep the entire focus on Maria for this review. Because her performance was something that should be absolutely appreciated and recognized.
When you see Maria Falconetti's performance in this film, you have to stop and take a deep breath when it's all over. To say you can feel her performance is an understatement. She doesn't just breathe life into the character, she creates so much depth, you are seeing Joan of Arc through her own eyes and experiencing her…
If you want to be startled by a motion picture, if you want to be haunted by a performance, if you want to be humbled by sincerity -- Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 tale of The Passion Of Joan Of Arc is for you. What Dreyer accomplishes here is all thanks to his star, Maria Falconetti. Never has a role been executed to such an empathetic extent as Falconetti demonstrates here. You feel for her, more importantly, you feel her.
The Passion Of Joan Of Arc is haunting but it is never morbid nor is it depressing. In fact it is a lush example of filmmaking at its best, a director at his peak, and an actress in the role of…
The film's emotional appeal is evident. I will even say that the film has contemporary relevance (those priests and judges conceal their blood-thirst, their discrimination and their urge to showcase their religious authority by the name of Jesus, does it sound familiar?) But...as some has pointed out, this feels like a "cry party". The film, however intimate it is, is mostly a dramatization, and its interest in investigation remains minimal. Having seen Jacques Rivette's version (which I plan to revisit pretty soon, by the way), I am left wondering: Was Joan really that fragile and tearful? Were the priests really that satanic?
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