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Film / The Passion of Joan of Arc

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A classic silent film from 1928, by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Generally considered one of the greatest films ever made (to the point of being named the ninth greatest film of all time in the 2012 Sight & Sound Critics' Poll), as well as considered to have one of the greatest filmed performances ever, given by Maria Falconettinote .

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. The film's plotline is highly conventional, being adapted straight from the actual records of Joan of Arc's trial, and essentially serving as a highly condensed version of the real event. The film's real strengths come in the form of Dreyer's excellent direction, Falconetti's performance, and the fact that you'll barely be able to see either of those things though all of your tears.

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Famously, this film survives only due to one single copy which was found in a closet in a Norwegian insane asylum. How strange is that?


This film provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Single Tear: One of the monks cries a single tear when Joan recants her confession, as he knows it will lead to her death. Joan herself sheds Single Tears on multiple occasions.
  • 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.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Joan herself, who wears men's clothes. She is grilled about it.
  • The X of Y: The Passion of Joan of Arc
  • 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."

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