Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: La Passion de Jeanne D’Arc
France, 1928. Société générale des films. Screenplay by Joseph Delteil, Carl Theodor Dreyer. Cinematography by Rudolph Mate. Music by Victor Alix, Leo Pouget. Production Design by Jean Hugo, Hermann Warm. Costume Design by Valentine Hugo. Film Editing by Marguerite Beauge, Carl Theodor Dreyer.
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece is considered by some to be the first film to prove that the medium could be an art form. Using a series of fascinating camera angles and powerful close-ups, he tells the story of the famed Maid Of Orleans and shows her trial and execution, which would eventually lead to her martyrdom. Maria Falconetti is astounding in the lead role, reaching across the limitations of silent film and giving one of the most powerful and affecting performances ever seen in the cinema (sadly her only major film performance). For her and her alone the film would be worth watching, but it’s actually a pristine production whose emotions are tear-inducing, the cinematography breathtaking. After originally being censored upon its first release (the church didn’t like seeing itself as a menace), the original negative was thought lost in a fire until a print was found in 1981 in a Norwegian insane asylum. Newer versions, particularly the Criterion Collection DVD release, feature a magnificent opera written especially for the film, a stunning work that only enhances the experience.