The Passion of Joan of Arc ★★★★★

A Century of Cinema Challenge: 1928

Wow. This film surprised me. I had read and heard incredible things prior to watching it, but even such high praise didn't prepare me for what a masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc really is. I was particularly surprised by how well it managed to hold my attention. I was enraptured. From the opening shot to the powerful final image. And the odd thing is, I didn't really find that much to analyze about this film. It's just insanely well made. This is due mostly to an absolutely magnificent performance from Maria Falconetti combined with some of the best use of montage editing I've ever seen as well as incredibly powerful cinematography and shot composition. Dreyer chooses to have his film live in the close up, the characters' faces dominating the screen. It is particularly effective that the judges are almost only viewed from below, while Joan herself is viewed from high angles, perpetually looking skyward. The fire and fervor in Falconetti's eyes speaks volumes, more so than any amount of dialogue could ever wish to say.

The Passion of Joan of Arc is a powerful film to say the least, in every aspect. It's easy to see, even after one viewing, why it has carried such influence in the world of cinema. I've been fortunate to watch a lot of masterpieces recently, and I'm happy to add this film to that list. It's currently battling Griffith's Broken Blossoms for the title of my favorite silent film that I've seen so far.

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