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The Passion of Joan of Arc (Full Screen) (The Criterion Collection)

4.8 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz, Antonin Artaud
  • Directors: Carl Theodor Dreyer
  • Writers: Carl Theodor Dreyer, Joseph Delteil
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Silent, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Nov. 9 1999
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 0780022343
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,226 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc convinced the world that movies could be art. Renée Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film, as the young maiden who died for God and France. Long thought to have been lost to fire, the original version was miraculously found in perfect condition in 1981-in a Norwegian mental institution. Criterion is proud to present this milestone of silent cinema in a new special edition featuring composer Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, an original opera/oratorio inspired by the film.

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Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc is as truly mythic as any film ever shot, its artistic achievement rivaled by its turbulent history. The focal point of controversy when released in 1928, the original film was lost for a half-century until an intact copy of Dreyer's original version was recovered in the early '80s.

Seeing Joan of Arc today remains a cinematic revelation, its approach to storytelling, set design, editing, and especially cinematography (by Rudolph Maté, who also shot Dreyer's visionary Vampyr) radical then, and still strikingly modern many decades later. Influenced by both German expressionist film and the French avant-garde, Dreyer's huge set was designed with asymmetrical doors, windows, and arches, through which Maté's camera moves along equally off-centered, even vertiginous, but fluid trajectories. Although the story is epic in its implications, the film is composed primarily of extreme close-ups, especially of Joan and her principal interrogator, Bishop Cauchon, and medium shots of small groups, often shot from low angles. Dreyer and Maté shot their cast in bright light, without makeup, giving each wrinkle, blemish, or tuft of hair sculptural detail.

For all its visual invention, however, Dreyer's film is most devastating in its central performance by Falconetti (née Renee Falconetti), a French stage actress who made her only screen appearance here--one critic Pauline Kael has suggested "may be the finest performance ever recorded on film." Through Falconetti, Joan's spiritual devotion, simple dignity, and suffering become utterly real; even without a dialogue track and only sparse inter-titles, the film achieves a fevered eloquence.

This meticulous restoration also includes composer Richard Einhorn's beautiful oratorio, Voices of Light, inspired by Dreyer's film and set to texts by women mystics from medieval and early-Renaissance Europe. A luminous work on its own, Einhorn's oratorio matches both the dramatic arcs and tremulous emotions of Dreyer's film, while its juxtaposition of choral and solo voices (with early-music vocal quartet Anonymous 4 evoking Joan herself) echoes the martyr's confrontation with the court. --Sam Sutherland --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film
This movie is one of the most well known classics of Europe. The 2nd original print, long thought to be lost to fire, was miraculously found in the closet of a mental hospital in Norway in 1981. The 1st original was burned though.
The recent film, "Passion of the Christ" was not the only "passion" film to generate controversy. This film was thought to be anti-England due to its protrayal of their treatment to Joan of Arc. The French were also upset that a non-French and non-Catholic man directed the film. The film's dialoge (by intertitles as it is a silent film) is based on actual transcripts of Joan's trial which have managed to survive also. The film is said to be very moving for some people just like Gibson's "Passion of the Christ." Not being Catholic, I am not sure of what many of the elements of either film may refer to.
The DVD has numerous special features as always.
Audio commentary by Dryer scholar Casper Tybjerg of Copenhagen University (he has a thick Danish accent that is very nice)
Optional soundtrack for Richard Einhorn's "Voices of Light" (a musical piece inspired by the film)alsong with an essay about the music and a libretto booklet.
Production design archive
History of the many different cuts and alternat versions of the film
Audio-only interview with the star's daughter, Hélène Falconetti.
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"The Passion of Joan of Arc" is a silent film in black and white, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968). It is not exactly the kind of movie I usually rent, but it is excellent, and I certainly don't regret having watched it.

The plot is based on the preserved transcripts of Joan of Arc's 1431 trial, in which she was accused of being under the influence of the devil, and condemned to die. Even though this film doesn't have colors, and despite the fact you cannot hear what the characters say, it is very easy to be enthralled by the way in which Dreyer tells this story. It is a real event, and he reenacts it for us.

This film is heartwrenching, but also powerful, and extremely well-made. In my opinion, "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is a classic you simply must see, even if you don't generally watch silent movies. After all, if you join a genius like Dreyer and someone with the talent and expressive face of the actress that plays Joan (Maria Falconetti), why do they need words for?

Belen Alcat
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About 5-10 years ago, I asked my mother (then 70 yrs old or so) what the best movie she'd ever seen was. She said Carl Dryer's Joan of Arc, which then had not yet been re-released. When I told a film lover this, he said "oh, that was EASY." Intrigued I went to see the movie at Avery Fisher Hall at the new release with Einhorn's score. Well, I was speechless. It was nothing I expected it to be. And, as it happens, not what Carl Dryer expected either! He had to create it from rejected footage when the original version was destroyed in a fire. Proof of his genius, now one can't even imagine another version. With all of these close-ups that were originally rejected, could we still today be so amazed by it? Even up close, Maria Falconetti's performance is the most humble I have ever seen in my life. The script is just a court proceeding, which I believe was from the original court transcripts. Seeing the film, witnessing the ridiculous trial, and experiencing Maria Falconetti's soul, I went away feeling sad for the human race.
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Format: DVD
MY CURRENT RATINGS:
10/10 Movie: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer 1928)
Once thought lost to the world, the film was pieced together in the 1980s from a Danish copy found miraculously in a mental hospital closet.
The introduction on the Criterion DVD tells us this. By film's end, you realize just what a blessing it is that this most beautifully crafted work of art, history and faith was not lost to us all.
I began my first viewing without the later-created score. Something told me to go ahead and add the inspired sounds, as they were approved and revered enough to accompany this most definitive copy of the piece.
From the second she comes on screen, Jeanne (Maria Falconetti) appears Divinely informed, set apart from her persecutors. The brilliance of Falconetti's performance cannot be overstated. Her eyes share a myriad of emotions in each frame, more than a thousand encyclopedias could convey.
I often say there are too many words in films today. I look to classics to find my respite. Silent films are the best vessels for such a cinefile.
The story of St. Joan of Arc is familiar to most today. We've seen everything from picture books to MTV videos imitating the final, passionate days of Her existence. She is somewhat a cult icon for young feminists, though I doubt this was Her purpose.
Whether you take Jeanne's passion as a believer, or a sympathetic, or a skeptic impressed by her self confidence in what she knew as truth, it is impossible to not love a woman so steadfast. One cannot imagine the horror behind those now famous eyes conveying Jeanne's final days here.
I admit being moved to tears on many occasions during this first viewing.
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