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A reconstruction of the trial of Joan of Arc (based entirely on the transcripts of the real-life trial), concerning Joan's imprisonment, interrogation and final execution at the hands of the English, filmed in a spare, low-key fashion. Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
Although the story takes place in 1431, Jeanne's hairstyle is strictly a popular mode of the early 1960s. This is not a "goof" but an intention on the director's part to help young people identify with the character. See more »
The director's signature style adds pretty much nothing to the story, the subject of one of the greatest works of cinema, Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc. If you don't like Dreyer's melodramatics and that famous silent is indeed enormously melodramatic then maybe Bresson's toned down version will work for you. But, really, most of the film consists of long, dry scenes of question and answer sessions between Joan and her judges. It only runs just over an hour, but a lot of it feels like a chore. It's not a worthless film, of course. Once in a while Bresson captures a powerful image. I loved the shots of Joan through the peephole, as well as the reverse shots of the Englishmen staring through it. And the final sequence, Joan's ascension to the stake, is as powerful as anything in the Dreyer film (although I usually list The Passion of Joan of Arc among my ten favorite films, I will admit that he missteps during the final sequence with that historically inaccurate riot and the Eisensteinian moments that ensue), and as good as anything else Bresson has made. Also, Florence Delay, who plays Joan, could be mentioned next to Falconetti without embarrassment. She is exceptional.
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