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
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 »
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 »
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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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 »
A fresh feeling take on the classic tale, one that focuses on visual style rather than historical information. *** out of ****
THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC (1999) ***
Starring: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman, and Pascal Greggory Directed & co-writer: Luc Besson Running Time: 141 minutes Rated R (for graphic violence, rape, and for language)
By Blake French:
Some classic stories just can't be updated. Example: "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" re-released in 1996. However, one of the greatest tragedies ever told, the story of Joan of Arc, has just been proven possible to be relateable even with time as its enemy. Luc Besson has created a fresh-feeling new version of Joan called "The Messenger," a historical epic that, for better or worse, concentrates mostly on visual style and realistic war scenes rather than answering questions we don't already know about the characters in focus here.
The historical Joan of Arc was a poor young French woman, who believed that there were spiritual signs that ordered her to be a messenger to aid the King of France to victory on the battle field. According to "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc," Charles VII, married to the bitter Yolande D'Aragon, was very grateful of her assistance at the time, especially when Joan explained that God has sent her to lead French troops to war with the English and be victorious.
The visions seen (or imagined) by Joan are clearly brought to life here, with more effective qualities than ever before in a Joan of Arc picture. They are filmed with many unusual special effects, bizarre camera tricks, and a beautifully crafted atmosphere of imagery. In use with these elements to the credit of the depicted scenes, they do a good job of expressing the spiritual dream-like moments through Joan with an imaginative feeling of majesty and revealing emotion. The style, camera, and direction all contribute to making these sequences of the best material in the production.
The film was shot in the Czech Republic, as well as the country of France. Cinematographer Thierry Arbogast captures the courageous historical time period flawlessly in these locations. The battle scenes may get little off track at times; some sequences are meant more for brutality purposes rather than a strong, focused narrative story.
The actors interpret their characters with a precise energetic edge. Milla Jovovich has the ability to be a believable Joan of Arc, but does push the limit on convincing us. Some of the film's efforts are straining toward the idea that Joan was somewhat mentally retarded-and Jovovich does a great job presenting that. Other familiar faces found in "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" include John Malkovich as King Charles VII, and Faye Dunaway as his spouse, Yolande D'Aragon. Also the legendary Dustin Hoffman inhabits a brief but appropriate role as the Grand Inquisitor, and Pascal Greggory is The Duke of Alençon.
There are scenes in this movie that make the audience stare at the screen in awe, but also scenes that make us ask ourselves questions. Although much of the production is spent on developing Joan's character and motives, the film still doesn't manage to answer some questions being asked by viewers pondering minds. We never learn if the visions Joan experienced were a calling from God, or just a figment of her intellectual imagination. Was Joan really crazy, or only near eccentric? Were the physical objects that Joan felt were signs from a higher spirit actually what she thought they were? An ulterior source could have been Lucifer deceiving the trusting Joan. Or did the French actually triumph in battles because of the spiritual strength accorded by Joan, or was luck the element present? And I personally would have like a little more explanation of the Grand Inquisitor character.
"The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" is a serious dramatic tragedy, and it takes itself as that all of the time. Luc Besson has constructed a movie that is ambitious and inspiring, with no room for the compromising or modest. I recommend the picture weather you're a new comer or a veteran to the Joan of Arc mythology. Even if you already know the story of Joan of Arc like the back of your hand, this telling might just surprise you.
Brought to you by Columbia Pictures.
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