Jens' Review of The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)
Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc is the story about one of the most legendary warriors in western history. A woman that has been the subject for a countless of screen adaptions. Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) was just a normal peasant girl, whom according to herself was chosen by god to lead the French to victory against the British. But after she failed to defend Paris, she was handed over by her own to the British, who of course burned her at the stake, because of her heresy. She was just nineteen.
Dreyer's film evolves around Joan's trial in England, where all the priest and judges tries to convince her that she was send by the devil, and that she is lying. While Joan on the other hand is truly convinced that she is the messenger of god, and that she acted only according to gods words. After getting tortured, she then sign a document that she acted by the devil, but then change her mind and choose to die a martyr death for her belief.
The Passion of Joan of Arc was not a great success when it was released in 1928. It was such a big flop that Dreyer couldn't make a movie for ad least ten years, with the exception of "The Vampire". It was believed lost, until 1981 when an original copy was found in a mental institution in Norway. And has from then been counted as one of the greatest films ever made.
What makes this film so great, is the use of close ups, which are perfect, because they capture every emotions and horror in everyone's faces, every bodies facial expression, meaning that this is a film unfit for Nicholas Cage. The walls are white. The focus is entirely on the peoples faces. And Maria Falconetti who's never acted before, does a marvelous performance as Joan, she pulls it off like a professional. Even though I think it's a little to much crying, it's still a stand out classic. Thumbs up.