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The Passion of Joan of Arc [VHS]

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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, Original recording remastered, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Homevision
  • VHS Release Date: June 13, 2000
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00001REAJ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,189 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Dreyer's account of Joan of Arc-- legendary heroine and universal symbol of faith and bravery--centers on her trial and execution. Derived from actual transcripts of her trial, Dreyer's story defies all conventions of filmmaking through his use of close-

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

Customer Reviews

If ever a film screamed "classic", it has to be this one.
M. Dog
To see her voluntarily give up the one thing she held most dear in her life, to follow God's will.... so intensely powerful and moving, how this was portrayed.
Passion was one of more than a dozen silent films made about Joan of Arc.
Christopher J. Jarmick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 153 people found the following review helpful By FrontPage on September 5, 2003
Format: DVD
"Passion of Joan of Arc" was beautiful. I put it on my list of essential DVDs after viewing the last part of it on Turner Classic Movies.
Other reviews have said that "Passion" was the best of the films of Joan of Arc, and after viewing this masterpiece directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (cq), it's hard to think that something better could be out there.
Five stars across the board for the presentation, quality (sound and video) and for the film itself, which is one that demands the most caring team to make certain that a DVD presentation is of the best quality. This comes from the Criterion Collection, and make no mistake about it, they did what this archive in cinematic achievement demanded.
The DVD contains a digitally restored, black and white transfer from an original negative which was discovered in 1981 in a Norwegian mental institution (perhaps the person who hid this gem was not crazy, after all). Originally a silent movie, the film is accompanied by a digital stereo composition performed by Anonymous 4 with soloist Susan Narucki and the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic and Choir. The audio, which is optional to the viewing of "Passion" is GORGEOUS. The music alone is worth the price of admission.
Included with the DVD is a "Voices of Light" libretto booklet. Kudos to composer Richard Einhorn. If you're reading this, I'd love your autograph. This work is a "must have" in a serious collector of cinematic (and orchestral) genius, so if you're both, kill both birds with the same stone.
For the movie, I was stunned at the cinematic approach to filming "Passion." This is why I am certain that no one has come to within the state border of being close to the depth of passion that pours out of EVERY frame.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By El Kabong on January 15, 2000
Format: DVD
There's nothing to add to the chorus of high praise this masterpiece has already received, so I won't try. Just one point: the restored version features a new score, VOICES OF LIGHT. I'm not the biggest fan of grafting new music to vintage films - too often it's ill-fitting, adding nothing but a showy distraction to the narrative . Here it's a marriage made in Heaven. Absolutely the most moving and mesmerizing film score I've ever heard, greatly enhancing an already great movie. Viewers in 1928 were probably thunderstruck by Dreyer's vision and imagery, but Einhorn's score gives voice to Joan's inner devotion and faith, transforming this film of sexist persecution and religious hypocrisy into a true passion play of martyrdom. As for historical inaccuracies, remember that this is not a movie about Joan of Arc but about the Trial of Joan of Arc. It's not History but History refracted through slow glass for the purposes of Art.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By M. Dog VINE VOICE on August 19, 2004
Format: DVD
Well, this is certainly a film that can't be argued with. The Amazon reviews of this film have used up about every superlative there is. If ever a film screamed "classic", it has to be this one. I mean, damn, at one point the film was thought destroyed by fire, like Joan herself, only to be discovered in the closet of lunatic asylum - and in pristine condition, no less. Just as though God himself had placed the thing there for safe keeping. I surrender. The film is blessed.

I'll just add this for the perspective buyer that may be a bit intimidated by the bombast of the reviews: please don't assume this film will be like going to a required class. It truly is thrilling. The final scene, when Joan is burned, is one of the most gripping pieces of film-making I've ever scene. It builds and builds with quick edits, the camera suddenly moving like the eye of a terrified child, each image a bit more twisted and seared than the last, until finally you realize you are watching something mankind should not witness - the apocalypse descending on earth. As Kurtz would say, "The horror. The horror."

Worth the price of admission, wouldn't you say? --Mykal Banta
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on July 23, 2001
Format: DVD
"The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" is undeniably one of the greatest of all films. It is a masterpiece not only of the silent era, but of powerful filmmaking as a whole. It proves that great art does not lose its effect or value with age. It stands with works like Luis Buñuel's "Un Chien Andalou" and F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" and Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" as one of the principle and important films of the silent era. Carl Dreyer's brilliant directing creates a claustrophobic intensity as we feel the pressure on Joan as the tribunal of priests decide her fate. Maria Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances on film of all time, if not the best, looking at her here is seeing eyes that will never leave your memory. She completely lets us FEEL this character, this mystic woman who is being judged. The editing and camera work create a visceral experience filled with true emotions. And the addition of the "Voices Of Light" score is brilliant because it adds to the film's hypnotic effect. "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" also feels incredibly real and does actually serve as a breathing, living document. It is a marvelous work of art, filled with moments you will not forget. Any film enthusiast, anyone who truly has a deep appreciation for the cinema should, must see it.
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