0043: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Rating: 3/10

This is a film that was once thought to be lost. As a fun fact, the director decided no actor should wear any makeup so their facial expressions could be a part of the story. As far as I know, this is the first time a fictional film was made that did this, and was totally unheard of in the silent era. Speaking of which, this movie was also completely silent.

This movie is ahead of its time. It uses close-ups (to a somewhat annoying degree) and lighting effects that make it look almost like a film made just yesterday for cable. Who knows how hard it was to accomplish these space-age techniques. Though the camerawork was super impressive, there was no soundtrack at all. Though the Jazz Singer was released in 1927, “talkies” hadn’t quite taken off yet. It took some time for the technology to get overseas and they probably couldn’t even play most talkies in theaters until much later as technology caught up. This movie was made in France, by the way, did I mention that? Well, anyway, it should have had a musical score. I’m sure maybe there weren’t any surviving copies but I think there should have been an alternate track or something with a rewritten score. It would have really added to the film. I know, it’s silent so it’s not as important, but for this blog I have seen a lot of silent films that had really impressive scores, and only add to the film they’re used in, even when they aren’t very good. I guess I just want it for my own enjoyment, still if you watch this you should have some background music on. Or find a copy where it was added. That’s just what I think though.

Being that this is mostly based on fact from the actual transcripts of Joan of Arc at the trial before they burned her at the stake, it doesn’t really cover all the cool stuff with that battle she won single handedly and is mostly, as far as I can tell, about the fact that priests thought women should wear dresses, it’s a super misogynistic piece of history and really didn’t need to be even an hour and a half long. So many scenes are just showing extreme closeups to show emotion, and I’m pretty sure it’s missing some intertitles, either that or the director just wanted to show the story in its entirety and if its supposed to take 7 minutes in real life, then by got it better take 7 minutes of screentime! Really, by the end of the movie I’m just waiting for them to light her on fire already. It’s too bad she’s the ONLY WOMAN IN THE MOVIE! Being that it’s the 20s they probably didn’t know any better.

Also, the last half hour is all about her being put to death, even after watching the whole trial for the first two-thirds, we get to watch her as she suffers and then burns to death. Fun!

Why you should watch it before you die: If you really like Joan of Arc’s story you might fight this interesting.

SCORING:

+3: It was okay in parts

+1: Good cinematography

+1: Good acting

+1: Good lighting

-1: Why are there so many closeups?

-1: The last third of the movie is basically “the Passion of the Christ” with all the torturing and dragging out of Joan being killed, wait is the Passion a sequel to this? Prequel?

-1: Missed opportunity on not including any of the battle or her talking to the archangel Michael or anything, really…

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