One of the greatest of black art pictures. The conjurer appears before the audience, with his head in its proper place. He then removes his head, and throwing it in the air, it appears on ... See full summary »
The background of this picture represents a scene along the beautiful river Seine in Paris. A gentleman enters, and taking a blackboard from the side of the picture, he draws on it a sketch... See full summary »
A traveler puts up at an inn. He hangs his overcoat and hat upon a peg in his room, but he finds, instantly, that his clothes are on his back again. He takes off his coat a second time, but... See full summary »
"In the opening of this film is seen the astronomer intently poring over his books. Suddenly, in a cloud of smoke, Satan appears and surprises the astronomer. At the command of the Fairy ... See full summary »
This is an elaborate production for its time, with 11 tableaux, 250 meters and a runtime of 10 minutes. Additionally, the print available on the Flicker Alley set is wonderfully hand-colored. There's also a nice vision scene-within-a-scene, which is a rather common, but appreciated, occurrence in early films. On the other hand, this early story film especially seems to be bogged down by Méliès's typical theatrical style, perhaps because it's a historical reenactment film rather than some amusing fantasy or fairytale. I don't find it as entertaining as his later films such as "Bluebeard" (1901), "A Trip to the Moon" (1902) and "The Kingdom of the Fairies" (1903), which more greatly overcome their stagy and primitive qualities. For instance, the revolving parade scene and the lame battle are goofed even for 1900. In addition, Méliès plays too many different roles in this one, which could have been confusing without the lecture provided.
Nevertheless, it would take a couple years before other film pioneers, including Edwin S. Porter, Robert W. Paul and Ferdinand Zecca, to name a few, began to make narrative films to compare to this one. "Joan of Arc" came on the heels of Méliès's earlier and first super-production "Cinderella" (1899), which, like this film, connected its tableaux by dissolves. "Joan of Arc" is somewhat more polished than "Cinderella" was, as, likewise, Méliès's later féeries (fairy films) are more refined and sophisticated than this film.
Also of note, Joan of Arc has always been a popular screen subject. The first filmed version I know of was by the Edison Company in 1895. The Lumiére Company made a shot-scene reenactment of the trial, titled "Execution of Joan of Arc" (Exécution de Jeanne d'Arc), just a year before Méliès's film. The Lumiére film, which has been available on home video, isn't worthwhile except for perhaps that it, too, survives in a hand-colored print. When I saw it, and when considering its title and that they only had a single shot-scene, I wondered why they wouldn't use the hand coloring to exploit the attraction of a burning at the stake. Méliès didn't miss opportunities like that.
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