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,…
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?
That is all.
It really feels like you're witnessing history whilst watching Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. When reflecting back, its actually quite a modest production but the sum of all its parts amount to something that feels quite colossal. Here we have a picture that is so historic, so beautiful, so universal, so powerful that it honestly transcends its medium and had me all wobbly by the end.
First off, can we please put this argument about whether or not it was 'fair' for the film to be accompanied by a modern score (seeing as though Dreyer never allocated a specific score for the film) to rest. What an utterly irrelevant waste of time. Cant we just enjoy a…
A hymn to the human face and the possibilities of cinema, Dreyer's masterwork still startles with it's intensity and visceral immediacy, the tears which stream down Maria Falconetti's wracked, rapt face as disarming as the jeering gallery of her tormentors is horribly, convincingly punitive.
One of the pleasures of Letterboxd is watching people lift the burden of having not seen a Film You Must See, admitting to it, then filling the gap. If you're an admirer of the film under review, you get another pleasure; seeing whether these old favourites still work, whether they live, whether they can still attract new converts to the old church.
Fans of Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 retelling of the trial, torture and execution of Joan of Arc, you can rest easy. It works better than I could ever have dreamed.
I mean, I'd heard everything that gets said about it; that Dreyer's close-ups are the equivalent of Renaissance religious icons, that Maria Falconetti's performance is one of the…
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