This movie is on so many lists as a reported best film of all time it was only a matter of time before I got around to watching it. The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) is a French silent film by Carl Theodor Dreyer. This is a unique film as it uses the actual transcript from Joan of Arc’s trial as a basis of its own trial scene and unlike other Joan of Arc movies in this one the focus in solely on the trial and execution. Also adding to its uniqueness is the fact that there is no official score for the movie until Voices of Light was recorded in 1995.
Of course many are drawn to 1948’s Joan of Arc with Ingrid Bergman or one of the modern ones but Dreyer’s film is by far the most amazing to watch, let alone the story of how it came to be and with us today. According to the Criterion DVD the original film negative was destroyed in a fire as was a second print of the film and the film was given some several cuts by both the Archbishop of Paris and the government censors. Thankfully in 1981 an original intact copy was discovered at an Oslo mental institute in a janitor’s closet. This copy was given to the Norwegian Film Institute and is the version we can watch today.
Many people are drawn to the film by the production, many pointing to Carl Th. Dreyer as the genius film maker, other by the performance of Maria Falconetti. This was only her second and final film, as she preferred acting on stage, but it is considered the best silent movie performance ever. Both of which have been described as being the finest in cinematic history. The film has made all kinds of list it is routinely found on the Sight & Sound list. It is number 1 on the TIFF Eessential list from 2010 as the most influential film of all times. It has even included on the Vatican’s list of 45 great films which was release in 1995.
It is a unique movie to watch with some very cool camera angles it is a must see for all film buffs. If you just want the whole Joan of Arc story you are better suited with a different film.