The Passion Of Joan Of Arc

Must-See Cinema! A silent classic which has never been surpassed!

So extraordinary and otherworldly is this film’s power, you could believe you were watching the actual trial of Joan of Arc. The fact that it was based on the original transcripts of the trial could be a factor, but Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer was not much concerned with historical accuracy (Joan had been canonized in 1920, seven years before this film was made). “The year of the event seemed as inessential to me as its distance from the present. I wanted to interpret a hymn to the triumph of the soul over life,” he later wrote.

Original poster for the silent classic The Psssion Of Joan Of ArcIn fact, it’s a bracingly modern treatment of a historical subject. The camera glides along in smooth tracking shots, peers up from strange angles, and homes in so close on Joan’s inquisitors, you can make out every wart and pockmark on their scowling faces. But the real key to the film’s power is no secret.

Maria Falconetti’s portrayal of Joan is somehow in a class of its own, outside the realms of acting. Just her agonized expression is enough to move viewers to tears – no words or actions are needed. It is still often regarded as the single greatest performance in the history of cinema.

– Steve Rose, The Guardian

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