Passion Of Joan Of Arc, The

The anguished face of Maria Falconetti's Joan of Arc is one of the most memorable images in cinema history. In fact, for the more ardent cinephile, this pose has almost iconic status. And all the more so, when the character is a saint... However, in recounting the story of Joan of Arc (or more accurately, her trial and execution at the stake) Carl Theodor Dreyer has little interest in the young woman's standing as a saint. Rather than a myth, we have before us a dynamic, living character. This is surely behind the director's obsession with realistic portrayal, for according to several cinematic sources, Dreyer researched genuine documents in order to remain true to historic fact. The result is the portrait not of a legend, but of a woman tormented by fear and suffering, who nonetheless has the guts to resist and rebel. Joan of Arc's portrayal as a real character, or more importantly as a human being, is one of the key factors heightening the film's intensity. The visual structure Dreyer employs for impact is also extremely powerful. Joan's suffering, reinforced by Falconetti's incomparable performance, is conveyed to the audience through the recurrent use of close-ups. Eschewing make-up, Dreyer fills the screen with stark faces and turns even the tiniest detail into a narrative instrument. Furthermore, Joan and her judges are shot to a different scale and rarely enter the frame together. The film, which is set almost exclusively indoors against a white backdrop, achieves for the most part a sense of realism akin to documentary. The sets, on the other hand, sometimes recall German expressionist cinema, lending a fantastic dimension to the film's spiritual mood - the torture chamber is particularly awesome. This masterpiece of Dreyer's ranks as one of the best films of not only the silent film era, but the history of cinema as a whole. Despite the decades that have elapsed since its making it still retains its impact. Falconetti's performance is still heart-r
France
'
1928


Script
Carl Theodor Dreyer
Joseph Delteil

Cinematography
Rudolph Maté

Editing
Carl Theodor Dreyer

Production
Societe Generale Movies

Cast
Antonin Artaud
Eugène Silvain
Maurice Schutz
Michel Simon
Renée Falconetti

Festivals
10th Festival on Wheels
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