The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc) (1928)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc) is widely regarded as Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's finest achievement and one of the greatest films of all time. Dreyer recreates the trial and execution of St. Joan with near-documentary authenticity, as if one were present at the actual 15th century event and both defendant and accusers were the genuine article. The director's use of huge, probing close-ups -- detailing every pockmark and even the saliva at the sides of the mouths -- adds a shocking immediacy which makes it hard to believe that this film is nearly 70 years old. As Joan, Renée Maria Falconetti (in her only film) transcends mere praise. The Passion of Joan of Arc is a silent film, but the original transcripts of Joan's trial are brilliantly conveyed by the pantomime of the actors. The film's title is supremely double-edged -- Joan's "passion" is shown to be as erotic as it is spiritual. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)
Here is a deadly tiresome picture that merely makes an attempt to narrate without sound or dialog an allegedly written recorded trial in the 15th or 16th century of Joan of Arc for witchery, leading to her condemnation and burning at the stake.
Dreyer's radical approach to constructing space and the slow intensity of his mobile style make this "difficult" in the sense that, like all the greatest films, it reinvents the world from the ground up.
Dreyer's most universally acclaimed masterpiece remains one of the most staggeringly intense films ever made.
It is the gifted performance of Maria Falconetti as the Maid of Orleans that rises above everything in this artistic achievement.
Few films have earned classic status more than Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent study of the 15th-Century teenager who helped lead French troops against the British only to be tried as a heretic.
You cannot know the history of silent film unless you know the face of Renee Maria Falconetti.
While strong with French nationalistic sentiment, it was made by a Danish director and a German designer, but its powerful message speaks to people of all nations.
This was Falconetti's only major film and over a period of a year under Dreyer's direction (a combination of cruelty and patience), her extraordinarily expressive face made for one of the greatest, most harrowing screen performances.
With her wide and expressive eyes, eyes that lock onto the spectator, conveying both hope and despair in the same instant, Falconetti delivers one of the most sublime and gripping of film acting performances.
In the hands of the great Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer it becomes a potent saga of battered faith, vicious bullying and personal torment.
It's hard to think of another film that contains such anguish, such inner torture, that turns watching a plain old movie into a spiritual experience.
If the cinema had a face, it would have to be that of Maria Falconetti.
A wondrously composed cathedral of light and shadow that departs from one text to establish another, parallel cosmos based on the architecture of the human face.
A work of formalist beauty and emotional power, with a luminous central performance from Falconetti.
Falconetti's shockingly modern performance as the 19-year-old Joan is a thing of irreproachable honesty and ethereal suffering.
Dreyer's film remains among the most strikingly unusual cinema you're ever likely to see.
Carl Dreyer's silent classic feaures a mesmerizing Maria Falconetti performance.
One of the great last gasps of the silent era, Dreyer's classic presents, in a staggering series of close-ups, Joan's trial before her inquisitors.
Audience Reviews for The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)
Very simple and minimalistic, yet very compelling and harrowing.
What I found intriguing - and a bit bizarre, knowing how meticulous Dreyer could be - was that single shot where one of the priests was clearly seen wearing 20th century glasses. Why would he have left it in? Was it a reference to someone?
Four stars for the film, an extra half of a star for how utterly brilliant Falconetti is. Whether it was Dreyer's idea to make her kneel upon stone or her own prowess in acting that allowed her to give such a painfully passionate and nuanced performance, it is simply breathtaking. As for the film itself, it really never lets you go. Without any establishing shots, the viewer is plunged face first into the drama. From the accusers to the accused, there is a real sense of vehemence that all of the actors exude.
It is passionate, relentless, and beautiful all at the same time. While I don't think I will revisit this more than one time in a decade, It is none the less an important film and displays the power that actors such as Falconetti can have in a film.
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