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The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

Joan of Arc (original title)
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A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors.

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5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

12 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

FRF 390,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$14,131,298 (USA) (17 December 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(unrated)

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filming lasted 9 months. See more »

Goofs

The coronation scene is a lovely period spectacle, certainly... but were we to nitpick, we could indeed...Let's see now, where do I start?

1) The shape of the bishops' mitres is too narrow and tall for the 15th Century France, and are more proper for 16th century Italy.

2) Why is the Dauphin still dressed in his ermine during the actual anointing part of the service? All the coronation ceremonies of the time (which still survive in the Roman servicebooks) specify that the monarch-to-be-crowned is vested in a white alb which covers the coronation outfit.

3) The bishop attending continue to wear their mitres during the anointing itself. Incorrect, as the ritual prescribes that the bishops remove their mitres for this section.

4) The bishop performing the anointing wears his gloves. Incorrect, because.... (look at next point)

5) Why on earth does the bishop officiating at the coronation hold the ampulla (phial) of oil and shake it about? The correct procedure is for the bishop to remove his gloves, dip the front fleshy part of his right thumb in the Blessed Oil (Oil of the Catechumens, for those of you into details) and anoint (rub in the form of a cross) both the palms of the monarch's hands, on the chest, between the shoulders, and on the crown of the head. He most certainly does not slosh it about like Holy Water. The coronation also has been severely shortened, understandable since this is a film, but one wishes it didn't simply present the ceremony as a splash and crowning.

Last point (as if those above weren't already enough) - the bishop officiating at the coronation has a Rosary in his left hand throughout. That's not supposed to be there, as it is not among the items a Bishop is to wear during any service. It's an item for private devotion. A shame, as the costumes and details of the churchy stuff for the most part wonderfully accurate. See more »

Quotes

[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...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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
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User Reviews

 
Starts Off Extremely Well
2 October 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

If you are wondering about Luc Besson's vaguely heretical "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc", try to imagine a cross between "Excalibur" and "Heaven's Gate". It looks great but the basic story gets lost in the histrionics and excess.

There really was a very religious young girl who was considered a savior to France during The Hundred Years War. Although things may have eventually sorted themselves out the same way without her. Three years after her birth, the new tactics of the English archers were responsible for arguably the most one-sided battle in military history at Agincourt. The result was credited to Henry V's piety and he got a great passage in Shakespeare. The French aristocracy was almost wiped out by the battle and the English became solidly entrenched in France. Fourteen years later a new generation of French nobility was beginning to assert itself and it was the English and their French allies who were having leadership problems.

Both countries were Catholic at the time and both claimed that God was on their side, a bit like the football player who thanks God for the victory over another team that apparently God did not favor.

Although there are records of both of Joan's trials (her Condemnation Trial and her Rehabilitation Trial) both proceedings had their own political agenda and should be taken with a grain of salt. Besson's film seems to follow the generally accepted version of the story but takes obvious liberties with Joan's mental condition and visions. There is no way to prove or disprove any of this so it is probably as plausible as any other speculation.

What hurts "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" is that Besson's best scenes are at the very beginning and set too high a standard for the remainder of the film. Jane Valentine is wonderful as the young Joan and Besson shows that his directing skills with young actors was not confined to Natalie Portman's performance in "Leon". This early stuff features some of the most interesting scene juxtaposition that you are likely to see in any film. IMHO it gets off to a better start than any film in cinema history. And the sequence where the young Joan is standing on a hill watching as the English burn her village is as visually stunning as anything ever filmed.

But once Milla Jovovich's grown-up Joan takes over most viewers will find it difficult to stay focused on the story. It's not miscasting, Jovovich is noted for aggressive and daring performances (see "The Dummy") rather than subtlety and nuance, making her a good fit for the take Besson wanted on Joan's personality. The problem is that while a viewer could identify with the young Joan, the older Joan is just repellent. Her story should be inspirational and tragic. Instead it is a bunch of comic book battle scenes and comical melodrama.

But it is worth watching for the production design and the beginning sequences.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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