The Passion of Joan of Arc | Chicago Reader

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Carl Dreyer's last silent, the greatest of all Joan of Arc films. Lost for half a century, the 1928 original was rediscovered in a Norwegian mental asylum in the 80s (other prints had perished in a warehouse fire, and the two versions subsequently circulated consisted of outtakes). Joan is played by stage actress Renee Falconetti, and though hers is one of the key performances in the history of movies, she never made another film. (Antonin Artaud also appears in a memorable cameo.) Dreyer's radical approach to constructing space and the slow intensity of his mobile style make this “difficult” in the sense that, like all the greatest films, it reinvents the world from the ground up. It's also painful in a way that all Dreyer's tragedies are, but it will continue to live long after most commercial movies have vanished from memory.

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