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The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
"Joan of Arc" (original title)

R  |   |  Adventure, Biography, Drama  |  12 November 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 54,196 users   Metascore: 54/100
Reviews: 385 user | 111 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors.


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5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stéphane Algoud ...
Look Out (as Stephane Algoud)
English Judge
David Barber ...
English Judge
Christian Barbier ...
Timothy Bateson ...
English Judge
David Begg ...
Nobleman - Rouen's Castle
Christian Bergner ...
Andrew Birkin ...
English Judge
John Boswall ...
Old Priest
Matthew Bowyer ...
The Bludgeoned French Soldier
Domremy's Priest
Bruce Byron ...


In 1412, a young girl called Jeanne is born in Domrémy, France. The times are hard: The Hunderd Years war with England has been going on since 1337, English knights and soldiers roam the country. Jeanne develops into a very religious young woman, she confesses several times a day. At the age of 13, she has her first vision and finds a sword. When coming home with it, she finds the English leveling her home town. Years after that, in 1428, she knows her mission is to be ridding France of the English and so sets out to meet Charles, the Dauphin. In his desperate military situation, he welcomes all help and gives the maiden a chance to prove her divine mission. After the successful liberation of Orléans and Reims, the Dauphin can be crowned traditionally in the cathedral of Reims - and does not need her anymore, since his wishes are satisfied. Jeanne d'Arc gets set up in his trap and is imprisoned by the Burgundians. In a trial against her under English law, she can't be forced to tell ... Written by Julian Reischl <julianreischl@mac.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong graphic battles, a rape and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


FRF 390,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,360,968 (USA) (12 November 1999)


£94,012 (UK) (10 March 2000)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Kathryn Bigelow filed suit in California against Luc Besson for plagiarizing historical research that she had done when she was involved in the project. Besson settled with her amicably out of court. See more »


The English captain clearly does not bring his armour when he escapes the Touirelles by jumping into the river. He was wearing the same armour earlier in the film, as he does on the battle field later on, after the battle of the Touirelles. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: 1420. Henry V, King of England, and Charles VI, King of France, sign the Treaty of Troyes. The treaty states that the kingdom of France will belong to England upon the king's death. But the two kings die a few months apart. Henry VI is the new king of England and of France, but he is only a few months old. Charles VII, the Dauphin of France, has no intention to abandon his kingdom to a child nor even to his tutor, the Duke of Bedford. A bloody war begins and the English, along with...
See more »


Referenced in Estrenos Críticos: Los Tres Mosqueteros (2011) See more »


My Heart Calling
Lyrics and Music by Eric Serra and Noa
Produced by Eric Serra
Performed by Noa
With the Special Authorization of Interscope/Geffen
See more »

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User Reviews

France's Tragic Teenage Warrior Messiah
19 August 2008 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

I found Luc Besson's take on the story of Joan of Arc thoroughly compelling. Like all of Besson's films, The Messenger is highly stylized, nicely cast, and visually powerful. The film is also forgivably anachronistic in terms of language while developing a strong period feel through sets and costume.

Joan was, of course, the deeply religious teenage girl who lead Prince Charles' army to improbable victory over the invading English at Orleans and helped re-consolidate French sovereignty. Joan considered herself God's appointed messenger, and France apparently saw her as an avenging angel. Today, she is commonly regarded as a schizophrenic. She was canonized in the 1950s, 500 years after her death. Regardless of whether God or insanity was the source of her strength, power, will and incredible courage - there is little ambiguity about her role in the salvation of France nor the fate that awaited her afterward.

In general, the acting is quite good. Jovovich's much-maligned performance is actually very good and exactly appropriate for what Besson was trying to do with the film. Comparing Joan of Arc to her other Messianic role as Leelu in the Fifth Element is, frankly, ridiculous. I believe that the problems people find in Jovovich's performance are problems those same people bring to the film. Malkovich and Dunaway are phenomenal. Tcheky Karyo and Vincent Cassell provide excellent support.

Besson strays from what we think we know about the details of Joan's story, but only to present the truth of the big-picture more accurately. His film steadfastly refuses to answer the questions many people will bring to it:

* Was Joan schizophrenic? * Was she a catholic messiah or divinely inspired prophet?

Why is Besson so careful about accurately presenting the ambiguity of the story? I think he wanted to make a moving film, but not a film which would unsubtly challenge its audience's beliefs. If you do not believe, you will tend to explain Dustin Hoffman's character as a manifestation of Joan's psychological problems. If you do believe, you may want to think of him as Satan, am angel, perhaps both. Thus, Besson, who is a deeply spiritual person, makes a powerful statement about faith through his metanarrative while maintaining an appropriately unevangelical position. He took similar paths in his more uplifting films The Fifth Element and Angel-A.

Highly recommended for Besson and Jovovich fans. Not a biography - avoid this if you must have the "plain" facts! Mildly recommended as a piece of historical fiction.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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