Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

IMDb plot summary: A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.
Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Starring Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, and André Berley.

I found this... unsettling. Between the extreme close-ups and Joan's enormous frenzied eyes, I felt like I was being forced to stare from just a few inches away at someone going through a mental breakdown. (I frequently shrank my video screen down to a smaller size because I found it to be emotionally... overwhelming on full screen.) I don't know how Dreyer *intended* to portray Joan, but I found no strength in her, just anguish at being forced to choose between the Church and her own personal vision of God. She kept reminding me of Gelsomina from La Strada, caught in a world she didn't quite understand and not sure how to get out. It was truly unpleasant to watch that character tortured and mocked and not be able to get away from it (both me and her, although I kept shrinking the screen or pausing it to take a break). So... maybe technically this was a good movie, but I found it a profoundly uncomfortable and disturbing experience, and I can say without a doubt that I could never watch this again. The low star rating and Flickchart ranking reflect my personal experience and reaction to the movie, rather than an objective measure of its quality. 0.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1772 out of 2029, below Deliverance and above Youth Without Youth.

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