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

Joan of Arc (original title)
Trailer
2:28 | Trailer
A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors.

Director:

Luc Besson
5 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rab Affleck ... Comrade
Stéphane Algoud Stéphane Algoud ... Look Out (as Stephane Algoud)
Edwin Apps ... Bishop
David Bailie ... English Judge
David Barber David Barber ... English Judge
Christian Barbier Christian Barbier ... Captain
Timothy Bateson ... English Judge
David Begg ... Nobleman - Rouen's Castle
Christian Bergner Christian Bergner ... Captain
Andrew Birkin ... Talbot
Dominic Borrelli Dominic Borrelli ... English Judge
John Boswall ... Old Priest
Matthew Bowyer ... The Bludgeoned French Soldier
Paul Brooke ... Domremy's Priest
Bruce Byron Bruce Byron ... Joan's Father
Learn more

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Storyline

1429. While the war between France and England (the Hundred Years War) appeared settled in 1420, in England's favour, the death of King Henry V of England reignites it. England occupies large areas of France and appears set to take the whole of it. Into this moment of crisis rides legendary Joan of Arc, a teenage girl who claims to be lead by divine visions. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the characters in the film, including Joan's Captains, were real historical people. Giles de Rais (Vincent Cassel) was a real person who, after the war, and Joan's death, retired to his lands. Many years later, he was arrested for the murder of more than one hundred young boys and was executed. Some historians believe that his crimes became the basis for the French fairy tale "Bluebeard", about a rich man who murders his wives and hides their bodies in his grand house. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the film when Joan is lying by the river to the right of the screen you can see someone's pants and then a camera. 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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Alternate Versions

The European release was 10 minutes longer than the US theatrical version, which omits, among others, the scene where Joan's virginity is tested before the court of King Charles VII. The longer version has been released in the USA on DVD. See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: The Worst Films of 1999 (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
France's Tragic Teenage Warrior Messiah
19 August 2008 | by mstomasoSee 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.


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Details

Country:

France | Czech Republic | USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

12 November 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc See more »

Filming Locations:

Bruntal, Czech Republic See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$85,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,360,968, 14 November 1999

Gross USA:

$14,276,317

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$66,976,317
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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