Film: The Passion of Joan of Arc

A classic silent film from 1928, by Carl Theodore Dreyer. Generally claimed to have one of the greatest filmed performances ever, given by Maria Falconetti. Her prior work was in light stage comedies and she never made another film.

Joan of Arc is put on trial by the English. They attempt to get her to back down from her claims of holy visions. She refuses, and is eventually burned at the stake.

You can find it on YouTube, but if you can, shell out the cash for the DVD or seek it out on cable. The current version is only 82 minutes, but be sure to mark out two full hours on your PDA; odds are you'll need some quiet time after.

This film provides examples of:

  • Acquitted Too Late: In real life, Joan was found innocent...25 years after she was convicted and burned alive.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Joan is very pretty in a innocent sort of way, while her tormentors are often downright repulsive.
  • Being Good Sucks: Boy, does it ever.
  • Book Dumb: Joan can't read and needs help signing her "confession".
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Joan pleads for her body to be buried on consecrated ground. In real life, her ashes were thrown in a river.
  • Burn the Witch!!: Joan's ultimate fate.
  • Break the Cutie: Penultimate example.
  • Corrupt Church: The Bishop of Beauvais. Averted by several of the Priests, who try to help her.
  • Disturbed Doves: Joan watches the birds fly off from the church roof as she is being burned.
  • Dutch Angle
  • Face Death with Dignity: Joan's attitude towards being burned.
  • Fainting: Joan faints when shown the brutal torture instruments intended to extract her confession.
  • Fragile Flower: Joan herself.
  • Famous Last Words: Joan cries out "Jesus" when a monk holds a crucifix in her view as she is being burned.
  • Freakier Than Fiction: This film was saved from complete oblivion by a spare copy kept in a closet in a Norwegian insane asylum. How strange is that?
  • From Bad to Worse: Joan's situation.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In this case, good monk/bad monk, used in her interrogation.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Joan has shiny, beatific Gray Eyes throughout the entire film.
  • Good Is Impotent: Joan is powerless to prevent her fate throughout the film.
  • The Hero Dies
  • Horned Hairdo: One of the judges squeezes his hair into two points.
  • I Die Free: Joan's death.
  • Kangaroo Court: Joan's trial.
  • Kill the Cutie: Joan's death.
  • Last Place You Look: The original negative was destroyed in a fire, and Dreyer died in 1968 thinking it was lost forever. Fast forward to 1981, when a nearly pristine copy was discovered in a closet in a Norwegian insane asylum of all places. What's more, it was delicate nitrate stock in a sealed can; if whoever discovered it had opened it up when they found it instead of calling in experts, it likely would have literally gone up in smoke then and there.
  • The Late Middle Ages
  • Lima Syndrome: Not enough to save Joan's life though.
  • Locked In The Dungeon: Joan's imprisonment.
  • Jeanne d'Archétype: Joan of Arc is the Ur Example, but this film, by itself, does not show the trope. Instead, it's more like a Deconstruction Played for Drama — after breaking the laws of man in the name of God, the brilliant and brave visionary girl is captured by the enemy, nearly broken by interrogation, and finally, brutally executed.
  • Messianic Archetype: The movie is ''The Passion of Joan of Arc'' for a reason. Many scenes in the film echo The Bible, from questioning by religous authorities to the English soldiers dressing Joan in a "thorny crown."
  • Mission from God: What Joan believes herself to be on.
  • Not So Stoic: Even one of the guards weeps to see Joan burned.
  • One Film Actor: Lead actress Maria Falconetti came from the stage first to act in La Comtesse de Somerive and then deliver one of cinema's most celebrated performances, then quit the film industry.
  • Public Execution
  • Prayer Pose: Joan, upon receiving communion.
  • Security Cling: Not quite a cling, but Joan tries to hold the hand of a priest while suffering a fever. He pulls it away.
  • Shamed by a Mob: The people witnessing Joan's execution weep in sympathy, and a riot breaks out when one shouts "You have burned a saint!"
  • Shown Their Work: The dialogue is all the actual court records of what Joan of Arc is known to have said at her trial. She's amazing.
  • Single Tear: One of the monks cries a single tear when Joan recants her confession, as he knows it will lead to her death.
  • Spiteful Spit: One of the church officials spits on Joan during her trial.
  • Tears of Fear: Nearly constant on part of Joan during the movie.
  • Tears of Remorse: Joan, after signing her confession, which she then recants.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Joan's hair is cropped to stubble on-camera. It counts as a real-life example too, as Falconetti apparently begged Dreyer not to have to do it.
  • Villain Respect: By the end, it is clear that some of the clergy are rather impressed with her courage and are feeling at least some sympathy for her.
  • Waif Prophet: Joan herself.
  • Wall Slump: Joan slumps when she's being burned.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Joan herself, who wears men's clothes. She is grilled about it.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: It's not stated in the dialogue — it's all in Joan's face when the priest asks her who taught her how to say her prayers, and she answers, "My mother."

Alternative Title(s):

The Passion Of Joan Of Arc