62. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc

Carl Th. Dreyer’s silent masterpiece is beautiful to watch. It tells the story of the trial of Joan of Arc, but it’s not about the events of that trial so much as the emotional impact. Renée Falconetti gives a haunting and powerful performance as Joan; it’s almost difficult as a viewer to be sure if she’s divinely inspired or possessed by the devil. Most of the shots favor closeups of the characters’ faces, with chiaroscuro lighting and odd angles, and the result doesn’t resemble any film I’ve ever seen before. It’s the stark beauty in addition to Falconetti’s talent that makes this classic piece of cinema so affecting, even without sound. (Netflix watch instantly doesn’t have the soundtrack option available on the DVD.)

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5 comments

  1. I like this film and all the images on the site, but Joan is looking a bit more stoned than burned in this pic. 😀

  2. If you get a chance, watch the film with the Richard Einhorn “Voice of Light” score. Amazing.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. It was strange to actually watch a silent film without music, and I would definitely be interested in seeing it again with a lovely score. I wonder how the experience would differ.

      1. I remember P. Sitney Adams quoting someone — probably Stan Brakhage — that “a silent film isn’t really silent”: there’s the noise from the audience, coughs and murmurs, the sound that the projector itself makes, the ambient noise of the room. I wonder what Dreyer or Brakhage would make of digital projection these days. Or of the pure silence of the Netflix stream.

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