Wednesday, September 3, 2008

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc

Shot in France in 1927 by Danish director Carl Theodore Dreyer, this to me is one of the most beautiful films. I stumbled upon it probably 5 years ago, and after watching Milla Jovovich in The Messenger: Joan of Arc (1999) on HBO recently, I had to go back to my favorite version.

I promise that if you are at all a visual person, a spiritual person, or an empathetic soul, you will be moved if you watch this on an ample-sized screen. The cinematography and intense expressiveness of actress Maria Falconetti makes you forget that it is silent.
With such powerful emotion and telling eyes, words do not matter. You have to admire the direction of this film and the talent of the actors especially when you consider this work of film art is 80 years old. I think it is stunning.

It was censored before its release in 1928, and then the original was destroyed by fire. Until a Dutch copy was found in a mental institution in 1981, the only copies that had been seen for 50+ years were "mutilated." Criterion has a great restored DVD which also features a version accompanied by beautiful music.
Try watching the clip from YouTube while also listening to Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares to You." I have to think maybe Sinead or the director of her video were inspired by this film.

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