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,…
I honestly never would have thought the most profoundly moving film I've seen this year, and possibly ever, was a silent film from 1928. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware of the film's revered reputation. However reading about it and actually seeing it are two different things. This film explodes with feelings I never even knew existed, and it blows my mind that not a single frame of this 86 year old masterpiece has aged.
On a side note - even though this is the first and only time I've watched this film, I don't feel presumptuous in saying that if you haven't experienced watching it on the recently released bluray from Eureka - fully restored and remastered, with a 20fps version accompanied by a Mie Yanashita score, then you haven't seen it at all. I'm sure all the purists will say it must be watched silent, but screw that, Yanashita's score will tear your soul apart.
A triumphant marriage of the three giant European silent film movements - Russian Montage, French Impressionism, and German Expressionism - together with one of the greatest actresses in history and a truly badass redone score by Jon van den Booren. If you ever have the chance to watch this film with the modern soundtrack, DO IT.
The rapid editing of montage can be intrusive at times, especially in the early scenes, and for the amount of time and money they spent on the lavish sets you don't see them that much; most of the shots are close-ups on Joan and her persecutors. But as those shots are the best parts of the film, it's hard to complain.
Kafka, feminismo y San Juan de la Cruz.
One of the best, most moving films I've ever seen. Maria Falconetti's performance is incredible, the score by Richard Einhorn that was played with it was immense and the execution scene was way better than it had any business being. Not bad for a silent film made in 1928. I'm not sure if I want to buy this immediately or try and hold off, hoping for a Criterion Blu-ray. I think if there's no word of a Blu by the time the next half off sale at Barnes & Noble comes around, I'll just bite the bullet and get it. ****ing incredible film.
"Will I be with You tonight in Paradise?"
In 1928, Danish director Carl Th. Dreyer released his superb and unique vision onto the world. The film was the unforgettable Passion of Joan of Arc, a movie full of shots so well composed, so well edited, so well framed, and actors so believable that it still feels remarkably ahead of its time. However, like most genius films, The Passion of Joan of Arc was a critical and commercial failure, very nearly lost forever to time, until a near-perfect print was found in a Norwegian mental institution (a print was given to the institution, as many movies were, for a screening for its patients, and when the movie failed so miserably, the…
The awe and conviction and sadness and fear and devotion and patience and anger and pain and madness and beatific acceptance of Maria Falconetti. & the exploitation of negative space & off-kilter framing & canted angles by Dreyer. & that final shot of Joan's smoldering stake beside that pathetic church cross.
They say eyes are the windows into the soul. I find myself always drawn into peoples eyes. Rather if it's an important film, a cheesy TV sitcom, even in sports like MMA and professional wrestling, as well as animation, where the eyes and expressions are replicated, if I want to engage the performances/characters most directly I look to the eyes. That being said the most expressive eyes and the best ocular performance I've ever seen handily go to Maria Falconetti as Joan. From her very first frame her eyes seer right through the screen (big or small) into your soul leaving you bare, exposed, and fully engaged in her ordeal. One of the most affecting and mesmerizing films of all-time.
After seeing this on a 35 mm print with live music, my admiration of this film is (of course) greater than ever.
***The Quest for the Best: Joan of Arc*** Part One
The controversial film about a women who was sent by God himself to save France from the invading British. A woman who lived and died by God and whom was destroyed because of her faith.
The story is not of the rise and fall of the great Joan of Arc, but rather solely her final days. Tried for blaspheme and impersonating a man, Joan of Arc is burned at the stake holding dear to her the visions of angels who bestowed upon her the title of the messenger of God. The story is a middle ages courtroom drama wherein attempts are made to force Joan to confess that she has…
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