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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: #7,566 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.

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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Format: VHS Tape
The Passion of Joan of Arc is beyond what words can describe, and with the addition of Einhorn's Voices of Light.... *speechless* My paltry attempt to describe the effect this has had on me follows:
This is truly a masterpiece. The first half was truly incredible for me to experience, and from my first glance I was riveted and *could not take my eyes off the screen*. The camera angles and shots were astounding and marvelously done; Falconetti gives a masterful performance (her tremendously expressive eyes may be too intense for most people to handle though). The portrayal of the inquisitors was very harsh, but that is what they were like back then. As a Catholic, I am very proud of how this was portrayed - as _truth_, never mind what most Catholics think, never mind how they would rather sweep this under the rug and pretend the higher-ups could never be like this. I see the Holy Mother Church behaving in the same way these days, towards its women - we are wanting to do more and are not being allowed to by the "good old boys club." Maybe this is the reason Jehanne has surfaced again at this time, to show how little humanity has progressed in being/becoming fully human, both back in her time and even now?
I bought the CD the other month and was immediately entranced by the music. I have a degree in music education, and only one thing I heard in my undergraduate years (Poulenc's opera, The Dialogues of the Carmelites) even comes close to the musicality of this work, to moving me in the same way that this has. That even pales to Einhorn's masterpiece, in my opinion. It is SO totally different, viewing this movie when you know the music so well, and you know the intent and meaning behind the lyrics chosen...
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By A Customer on July 3 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The Passion of Joan of Arc is a rare film that captures your attention the moment Maria Falconetti's expressive face appears. The portrayal of Joan of Arc by Falconetti is magnetic on screen. There is something mystifying in Falconetti's performance that is absolutely uncommon on film. Perhaps, the most poignant scene in the film occurs when Joan is in her cell and upon the floor is a shadow reflection of the bars from her window. Within Joan's perception the bars begin to form the image of the cross, and in that moment of revelation Joan's expression changes from sadness to an expression of hope.
Yet, Faclonetti's performance is not the only captivating aspect of the film. There is much to be said about the cinematography, art direction, and camera angles throughout the film. Dreyer's distinctive attention to detail pervades from beginning to end. From the turn of a page in the first moments of the film, to the close-ups of the tribune of priests, and monks. Dreyer sets the stage for the film with precision. All the while, the melodious sounds of Voices of Light add more dynamic to the film. Overall, The Passion of Joan of Arc is a testament to the versatility of silent films at its best: moving, expressive, and masterful.
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Format: DVD
The in-your-face closeups and blunt filmwork take a few minutes to get used to, give it a chance. I had the privilege of seeing the film accompanied by a live performance by Anonymous 4, soloists and chamber orchestra a couple of years ago. I've been hoping someone would marry the two on DVD. This is one of the most amazing feats of filmmaking I've ever seen. Particularly since it was created in 1928 -- the direction, the close ups, the weird camera angles are fabulously innovative even by today's standards. There are actually fewer subtitles than you might expect, so much of the story is told by Falconetti's eyes. The scene between her and the sympathetic priest is particularly moving. And Einhorn's score is surprising too, even if you've heard it before -- the lovely, comforting aria as Joan is being tied to the stake, for example(not the juxtaposition I expected, but wonderfully effective). I remember feeling that, later in that scene (which Dreyer extends to great effect) the strings captured the very texture of the flames. Obviously, I was tremendously impressed by the performance I saw and can't wait to own the DVD.
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