Thursday, October 22, 2009

41. La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc/The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Running Time: 82 minutes
Directed By: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Written By: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Joseph Delteil
Main Cast: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, Andre Berley, Maurice Schutz

THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF SAINT JOAN OF ARC

My introduction to Carl Theodor Dreyer came tonight as I watched The Passion of Joan of Arc and thought it was just about an average film.

The Passion of Joan of Arc tells the story of the trial of our film's heroine, as she was put on trial for claiming to have heard revelations from God and seen visions of Saint Michael. The film depicts the judges that persecute Joan, as the evil doers, as they poke and prod at Joan with question upon question and claim that the visions she sees are not of hevenly descent, but rather that of Satan.

We're shown the full trial, her imprisonment, torture and execution. At one point, when Joan is threatened with being burnt at the stake, she folds under pressure and signs a confession, being sentenced to life imprisonment. Later she recants her confession and is, of course, executed.

The performance from Falconetti was quite superb, as Dreyer executed the use of close-up shots to an art form. The expressions that are plastered on Joan's face throughout the picture are quite unforgettable, as tears stream over her face and she reacts to the judges threats and demeaning questions. Despite the terrific performance, I felt the film was lacking something for me. For one, I watched the Criterion version of the film, which allows you to view the film with or without musical accompaniment. If you choose to have music played over the film, its a score laid out in 1994 by a composer Richard Einhorn entitled "Voices of Light". I felt that this could only take away from the experience and opted to watch the film free of music. Maybe I should've made the other choice, as watching total silence really left this film a little emotionless, again, despite the great acting. Other than the music thing, there was just something not clicking between me and this film, and while I did find the subject matter interesting, I found the movie strolling right in the average neighborhood.

RATING: 5/10 We'll call it right down the middle and leave it at that. Maybe someday I'll rewatch the film with the music and see if that helps at all.

NEXT UP: Steamboat Bill Jr...My farewell to Buster Keaton

October 22, 2009 1:01am

3 comments:

  1. You are doing a great job, keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK, here is one I saw sometime ago and forgot to go back and add my ramblings..
    I'm growing more and more to appreciate silents, and I have always had a a lot of patience with 'slow' films. I was looking forward to seeing this - it crops up in almost every list of great films.. and I know a reasonable amount about the history of that period...
    (You can hear the 'but' hanging there carn't you?)
    I found this painfully slow...and found the relgious imagery counter productive. Oh yes.. another long close up shot of her misery.. or her extacy in her convictions.. or her having doubts.. but no, here is another of her finding the strength again. So, ok, perhaps you need to share her faith - either in her nationalistic or relgious fervour to appreciate it. Good point.
    (By the way, just in case anyone thinks this.... it is not the demonisation of the English that puts me off.. I happily agree that most of the 100 years war was brutish English military agression and the French cause was just)
    No, it is the laying on with a trowel. the direct over use ofover emotional manipulation and the simplistic good/bad that I mean.
    Sorry, that makes it sound like a Spielberg movie, and I have no desire to be that insulting...
    Ray

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know where, but I saw a clip of this somewhere recently and asked myself "Why didn't I like that more?" After re-reading my review, I realized just how slow and dull the film was. The Dreyer movies from the book have not been good to me.

    ReplyDelete

SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #65: Les nuits de la pleine lune/Full Moon in Paris (1984)

Running Time: 100 minutes Directed By: Eric Rohmer Written By: Eric Rohmer Main Cast: Pascale Ogier, Tcheky Karyo, Fabrice Luchini,...