France (MIFF 1954 )
Director: Carl Dreyer

The most striking quality of Carl Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is its uniqueness in that no film before or since has been made with such complete singleness of purpose, and few directors have been given such complete freedom of personal creation. Joan of Arc is the closest, most intimately observed psychological study of character that has ever been attempted on the screen.

It was shot almost exclusively in close -: up, and concerned, as it is, with relatively simple events of Joan's trial, creates its extraordinarily powerful effect entirely through the observation of gesture.

Falconetti, who made no other significant appearance in film, is said to believe Dreyer's interpretation of Joan so intensely, that one becomes oblivious to her as an actress. The story of St. Joan is concentrated in time to her last 24 hours, and in place from the castle at Rouen to the stake.

The film possesses its twentieth century parallels for it is an ideological trial in which Joan, for reasons of state, must be led to condemn herself for the sake of power politics.

The film made on the dawn of the invention of sound, makes a silent cry throughout its length fro this new medium.

Paul Rotha has written of the film: “From the opening to the closing shot it held, swayed, staggered, overwhelmed and toe at the spectator. It somehow contrived to get underneath and at the back of one's receptivity.”

Select Festival

Search the film archive