The Passion of Joan of Arc (Full Screen) (The Criterion Collection)
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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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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...Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Exquisite film and exquisite music. If you thought silent movies are all simplistic stories with half-baked melodramatic acting, this film will change your mind and broaden your... Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2014 by Deena
This is the actual trial text of St Joan of Arc put to silent film performance in the late 1920's. Falconetti, as Joan of Arc, is Remarkable. Read morePublished on June 13 2014 by Arthur Schmidt
This is a silent movie that has had music added to it in the past couple of decades. Even as a silent movie it is the best movie I have ever seen. Read morePublished on April 13 2013 by Richard Cripsin
Spellbinding performance by Maria Falconetti!!! Very powerful film - beautifully directed and staged. New music soundtrack adds to the overall presentation. Read morePublished on March 10 2010 by T. Gamble
"The Passion of Joan of Arc" is a silent film in black and white, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889-1968). Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2007 by B. Alcat
I may not be religious, but I can tell a masterpiece of filmmaking when I see one. This movie is certainly that! Read morePublished on Sept. 1 2004 by Esn024
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. Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by jumpy1
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... Read more
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