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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
K I am the kind of person who refuses to buy a movie unless I can find it in the $5 bin at Wal Mart. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Chad
This is an emotionally moving film that left me sitting stunned as I pondered how powerful it is. I just sat there awestruck. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Captain Spanky
Maria IS Joan of Arc.. riveting.. and shows convincingly the
mystery of sanctity
I loved this silent film. At first, it surprised me that it had no original soundtrack. This is because the director, Carl Theodore Dreyer didn't believe in soundtrack. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Elvin Ortiz
This is acting. Possibly one of the greatest performances in the history of film. I never get tired of watching this timeless classic.Published 7 months ago by TheGoodDrLaura
I lived in Berkeley 1961-69, where I was lucky enough to be educated in world cinema at 2 or 3 local theatres; hard to find such theatres anywhere today, at least in northern... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Theodore Richard Salisbury
This is a very moving video that I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in Joan of Arc!Published 9 months ago by David H. Fisher Jr.