When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, a commoner begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist.
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
When the English first see the army arrive on the far side of the river at Orleans just after Joan's first victory, you can see car tracks in the dirt of the shore. See more »
Joan of Arc:
This morning God gave us a great victory, but it is nothing compared to what he is ready to give us now. I know you are all tired and hungry, but I swear to you that even if these English were hanging from the clouds by their fingertips we would pull them down before nightfall. Now let all those who love me... follow me! Follow me!
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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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