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THE TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC

France, 1962 (MIFF 1979, Missed Masterpieces)

Director: Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson's account of the Joan of Arc story, although austere and elliptical as are all his films, remains very close to the written records of the trial held in 1431.

The film begins twenty-five years after Joan's death, with her mother filing a petition in the Notre Dame church, declaring the trial unjust. Then, Bresson presents a series of nine interrogations that Joan went through on trial for witchcraft. Bishop Cauchon and Warwick interview her both in public and in the privacy of her cell.

She is questioned about her alleged involvement in witchcraft and about the voices from God that she claims to hear. Throughout, she is unswerving in her faith: 'I ask only to be sent back to God from whom I came'. Particular emphasis is placed on her virginity, and her decision to wear men's clothing. In her cell. Joan is spied on through a crack in the wall by Cauchon and Warwick. Brother Isambart counsels her. She is tortured in an attempt to elicit a confession from her. The Bishop tries to persuade her to wear women's clothing.

Publicly in the market place, Joan succumbs for a moment to weakness and recants her faith, but soon reverts to her original stand. The court condemns her and orders that she be burned at the stake.

See also...

PICKPOCKET

China, 2004
Festival guest Jia Zhang-ke arrived onto the international cinema scene with Pickpocket (1997), influenced most evidently by the work of Robert Bresson. Made well outside the state system, the film w… More »

Frozen Land

Finland, 2004
Aku Louhimies' tough and fearless [Frozen Land] was inspired by Leo Tolstoy's short story [Faux Billet], in which mischance is passed from one person to another. It thus finds a peer in Robert Bresso… More »

DEVIL PROBABLY, THE

France, 1977
"By far the most punk movie ever made." - Richard Hell, punk legend ... Banned in France for its daring portrayal of alienated youth - and called a masterpiece by the likes of Francois Truffaut - The… More »

A GENTLE CREATURE

France, 1969
The husband of a young girl who has just killed herself relates in a formal, almost detached manner, the strange story of their meeting, marriage and life together. It reveals the situation of a rela… More »

FOUR NIGHTS OF A DREAMER

France, 1971
After having made The Gentle Creature, in Four Nights of a Dreamer, Bresson once again turns to Dostoevsky &ndash: the script being based on "White Nights", and centering on what Bresson calls Dostoe… More »

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