Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Passion of Joan of Arc (* * *)

I would have had no interest in this film except for the way it is described: "Considered director Carl Theodor Dreyer's finest achievement and one of the greatest movies of all time. Maria Falconetti turns in a haunting performance as the young French saint."  That was enough to get me to watch it, but be warned that this 1928 film has no sound.  None.  Not even some music to set the mood.  There are many places in the movie where we see people talking but we aren't shown the dialog.  Furthermore, the text is in French with English subtitles.  Therefore, had this not been an "Instant watch" on the Netflix web site, I doubt that I would have bothered.

Despite what I say here, this is an intriguing movie, especially if you are interested in history.  Everything in the movie is based on the actual transcripts from Joan of Arc's trial.  Maria Falconetti portrays Joan as an incredibly zealous young woman with naive and deep convictions.  This leaves room for interpretation depending upon your point of view.  Was Joan mad?  From my point of view, probably yes.  Others might choose to see her as the saint that the catholic church made her.

As always, I like reading what Ebert has to say.

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