62 The Passion of Joan of Arc

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Martha
Posts: 473
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: all up in thurr

62 The Passion of Joan of Arc

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:21 pm

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Image Image

Spiritual rapture and institutional hypocrisy come to stark, vivid life in one of the most transcendent masterpieces of the silent era. Chronicling the trial of Joan of Arc in the days leading up to her execution, Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer depicts her torment with startling immediacy, employing an array of techniques—including expressionistic lighting, interconnected sets, and painfully intimate close-ups—to immerse viewers in her subjective experience. Anchoring Dreyer's audacious formal experimentation is a legendary performance by Renée Falconetti, whose haunted face channels both the agony and the ecstasy of martyrdom.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New high-definition digital restoration of the film by Gaumont, presented at 24 frames per second
• Alternate presentation of the film at 20 frames per second with original Danish intertitles
• Three scores: Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, a choral and orchestral work performed by vocal group Anonymous 4, soloist Susan Narucki, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Choir; another by Goldfrapp's Will Gregory and Portishead's Adrian Utley; and the third composed and performed by pianist Mie Yanashita
• Audio commentary from 1999 by film scholar Casper Tybjerg
• New interview with Einhorn
• New conversation between Gregory and Utley
• New video essay by Tybjerg exploring the debate over the film's frame rate
• Interview from 1995 with actor Renée Falconetti's daughter and biographer, Hélène Falconetti
• Version history
• Production design archive
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by critic Mark Le Fanu, a 1929 director's statement by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and the full libretto for Voices of Light

Criterionforum.org user rating averages


User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10355
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

#2 Post by zedz » Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:14 am

A fantastic film, beautifully presented with an intelligent selection of contextualising extras. The only downside is my nagging suspicion that if this title had been released a few years later Criterion would have seen fit to include both major versions of the film. The original cut, presented here, is superior in both quality and content, but it was Dreyer's reconstruction that earnt the film its international reputation, and the shot-for-shot comparisons included in the excellent 'version history' on the disc make for fascinating viewing.

User avatar
Jun-Dai
監督
Posts: 624
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 4:34 am
Location: London, UK
Contact:

#3 Post by Jun-Dai » Wed Apr 13, 2005 3:43 am

That would easily be the most interest multiple-version title, more even than the likes of Blade Runner or Brazil.

J M Powell
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:20 am
Location: Providence, RI

#4 Post by J M Powell » Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:19 am

Hey, the last feature listed on the back of the box for this title is "Voices of Light libretto booklet, including the medieval texts used in Einhorn's composition." Can someone who owns this Criterion disc tell me if this is a physical booklet or a feature on the disc itself? The only inserts my copy only had in it were (1) the usual essay/chapters/credits sheet, (2) company cataolg, and (3) a half-sheet ad for Home Vision's VHS Dreyer titles. None of these has anything to do with a libretto; yet I can't seem to find this feature on the disc, either. Am I missing a booklet?

User avatar
ola t
They call us neo-cinephiles
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:51 am
Location: Malmo, Sweden

#5 Post by ola t » Sun Jun 12, 2005 9:23 am

Yes, it's a separate booklet, 28 pages and slightly smaller size than the regular insert.

Panda
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:22 pm
Location: New England

#6 Post by Panda » Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:02 am

My copy of "The Passion of Joan of Arc" also arrived without the libretto booklet. I e-mailed JM and he promptly sent me one.

Panda

J M Powell
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:20 am
Location: Providence, RI

#7 Post by J M Powell » Sun Jun 12, 2005 2:36 pm

Thanks, folks. I've had my copy of this title for over a year and never realized anything was missing! This is a pretty old release, so I hope it's not too late to get a replacement booklet. Emailing JM now.

User avatar
der_Artur
suffers from a sweating spirit
Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:22 pm
Location: stuttgart

#8 Post by der_Artur » Tue Jul 05, 2005 4:53 pm

Well, at least it is too late if you live outside the USA:
Jon Mulvaney wrote:Dear Daniel,

It is now the policy of the company to send replacement packaging to North American addresses only. We may have made exceptions in the past, but we can no longer do so.

Best,
JM

J M Powell
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:20 am
Location: Providence, RI

#9 Post by J M Powell » Wed Jul 06, 2005 8:32 am

Sorry to hear it. My libretto showed up here in my North Carolina mailbox mere days after emailing JM.

I didn't have to provide any sort of proof of owning the disc, so whatever insert you might be missing can probably be obtained by asking a North American friend (or a volunteer from this board) to request the insert and then mail it to you. (I'd guess CC acts a bit less liberally in handing out major inserts like, say, the Short Cuts book or the Herzog book, which have perhaps greater value independent of the DVDs and are also presumably less likely to be missing from a sealed copy of the disc than are items like the Passion libretto or the Anderson maps. Personally I wouldn't scam CC even if I could make a million bucks off it, but I'm sure someone would try.)

User avatar
der_Artur
suffers from a sweating spirit
Posts: 165
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 6:22 pm
Location: stuttgart

#10 Post by der_Artur » Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:05 am

J M Powell wrote:...asking a North American friend...
I don't have one.
J M Powell wrote:(or a volunteer from this board)
That's what came to my mind too, and maybe there's some who'd volunteer.

User avatar
HerrSchreck
Posts: 6324
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#11 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Mar 19, 2006 5:17 am

zedz wrote:A fantastic film, beautifully presented with an intelligent selection of contextualizing extras. The only downside is my nagging suspicion that if this title had been released a few years later Criterion would have seen fit to include both major versions of the film. The original cut, presented here, is superior in both quality and content, but it was Dreyer's reconstruction that earned the film its international reputation, and the shot-for-shot comparisons included in the excellent 'version history' on the disc make for fascinating viewing.
Particularly vs. the useless alt-version of KING OF KINGS (only worth it to hear the score... there's nothing else in the 'roadshow version' that's not in the Grauman premiere version), that would be an interesting re-issue to watch... especially since the 'old' (secondary) version is really just a paradise of outtakes.

I pulled this out a few days ago & had a question for any other owners of this disc: is yours a visible dual layer disc? My copy is from the first printing of the title, and I flipped it over the other day and noticed a single coding of the standard [["""""""""""""""""""]] wrapping around the innermost part of the disc (just before the clear ring), which usually signifies a single layer disc (only one wrap of number code also). The back of the case also does not say "optimal image quality; rsdl dual layer edition" either.

There's no doubt my edition is authentic (I've never come anywhere near a CC bootleg & I never will), it was stuffed with the booklet, the libretto, the flamey "In a year of Joan/Carl Dreyer releases.. etc" HVe VHS card (w the "coming soon: VAMPYR!" printed on it) et al. But given the amount of material, the usually above 5.0 mb/sec bitrate for the film, I'd be surprised that this was all crammed onto a single layer disc.

Does everyone's disc (at least those w the first edition printing w the VAMPYR ad) look like a single layer disc on the back?

User avatar
david hare
Posts: 6933
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#12 Post by david hare » Sun Mar 19, 2006 5:41 am

You're right.

The movie is a total 3.698 gigs with soundtracks, plus 10 mg for menus and 726 for extras. It's actually amazing how many very high quality discs are single layer.

User avatar
HerrSchreck
Posts: 6324
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#13 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:10 am

Thanks for checking.

Btw am I the only one who was a little annoyed with them removing the original scandinavian titles & intertitles and replacing them with electronic ones using only the retranslation (or de-translation?) back into the original French?

User avatar
HistoryProf
Posts: 1955
Joined: Mon Mar 13, 2006 3:48 am
Location: KCK

#14 Post by HistoryProf » Fri Nov 09, 2007 4:10 am

This is showing up as discontinued at various etailers...anyone know what's up?

User avatar
peerpee
not perpee
Posts: 2499
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:41 pm

#15 Post by peerpee » Fri Nov 09, 2007 11:41 am

It's probably just in between being reprinted. It's from Gaumont, not Studio Canal, so can't see it going OOP, and it's not OOP at Criterion's own site.

User avatar
malcolm1980
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 4:37 am
Location: Manila, Philippines
Contact:

#16 Post by malcolm1980 » Fri Nov 09, 2007 11:30 pm

So it's not OOP?

I checked DeepDiscount.com. They don't have it anymore.

User avatar
colinr0380
Posts: 8504
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#17 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:04 pm

HerrSchreck in avant garde thread wrote:-- this thin, stickfigurey, girlishly wimpy looking man with his butt sticking out twirling the wheel and threatening Joan just had me on the floor in hysterics. The way they all whisper to one another with the silliest seriousness, their sourpussed jealousy when she answers with poignance and sincerity.. human authority comes out looking thoroughly absurd and irredeemably hopeless by the time these buffoons burn her in one of the most traumatic images in all of western art .
Spoilers (in case you didn't know already that things get pretty hot for our Joan! :wink: ):

I agree. It felt that harumphing pettiness of the judges was an important element in making that final scene so traumatic - made darkly comic by the realisation that even though they are quite disgusting people there is no question that they are in control and their will be done.

That there is no way they could be appealed to by Joan due to their attitudes and views of the world backfires on them spectacularly as she becomes saintlike (to me at least) less through her supposed communion with God but through the way she accepts the gulf between them cannot be bridged for many reasons, but also that she cannot renounce her thoughts and feelings, her very soul, just for a quieter life.

The crown of thorns is a mocking (but also maybe with an unconscious understanding on the part of the jailers) attempt to compare her to Jesus, which plays into Joan's momentary lapse into signing a confession and then having to withdraw it as the pain of selling out cuts far deeper than the more transient firey death that she has seemingly saved herself from.

It makes that final uprising from the crowd incredibly powerful in its intensity, not just upset that a young girl, or even a saint has been murdered but also an expression of long festering discontent that explodes with the realisation that their supposed superiors ruling them have had the gall to destroy what could have been a link to God just to safeguard their own positions. The inevitability and brutality of the way the revolt is put down just emphasises that the judges have expanded their assault on 'hearts and minds' from Joan to the entire populace and that in the real world they have the might to destroy in the short term.

But that final image of the charred stake shows there is something more to life than just the tangible reality of real world authority and that is the freedom to have your own thoughts and feelings - and if you hand control of that over to someone else then you might as well be dead already.

User avatar
HerrSchreck
Posts: 6324
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#18 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:56 pm

First, it's a little sad that the best film in the collection has less than one page devoted to it (I mean the relatively new Martha graham has more!).

But one of the most frightening things about Joan is how incredibly powerful is Dreyer's ability to communicate her guts in the strength of the completely meaningless, utterly absurd psychological assault: the immediacy of her situation-- renounce and live, or stick to your guns and Die The Most Painful Death NOW at the behest of the most idiotic men on the planet who should not be in charge of a septic tank, let alone the life of Citizenry! To be stuck in the middle of a cineundrum so absurdly unfair it MUST be a dream, from which you'll awake.

But she can't. And is faced with the most ruthless immediacy. Like NOW-- someone grabs you off your seat and pulls you away from your computer and drags you outside and ties you around some strange smelling post and BURNS YOU TILL YOU DIE. Very very very very few of the slimmest fraction of one percent could really hold-to in the face of that kind of Choice and "preserve their soul". Most would say "God will understand" as they chicken out, or "This was gods plan, I will proselytize the other prisoners,". Their minds would make the necessary adjustments to cope while maintaining their self-view as pious and true.

I mean, burning... phew. The twitch when the young sympathetic priest announces "the stake" as the manner of her execution, just another of those moments which make Falconetti's performance perhaps the greatest in all film.

As an instruction on the repercussions of "the corrupting influence of power", and how power always seems to put the wrong folks (ambitious, meaning interested in Self to obsession, and by the time of their ascent to ultimate power thru the aggressive competition they've been conditioned to the routine destruction of their peers, thus have no problem with obliterating their charges) in charge, and sees those with the selfless capacity to empathize and those with non-linear thinking routinely crushed and left behind.

User avatar
Steven H
Posts: 1868
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:30 pm
Location: NC

#19 Post by Steven H » Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:00 pm

This movie was discussed into oblivion (if I remember correctly) before the board crashed in 04 and all the posts were lost.

User avatar
Thomas J.
Posts: 96
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Monticello

#20 Post by Thomas J. » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:09 am

HerrSchreck wrote:First, it's a little sad that the best film in the collection has less than one page devoted to it...
"It's a little sad" that this is among your favorite movies, and yet all you can do is go on for multiple paragraphs using vague language to pontificate about something or other. And your argument about the greatness of this movie is what, exactly? You don't sound very inspired by it. The most I can tell from reading this loose generalization is that the real-life event somehow has captivated you, but you don't convey specifically how, and even that wouldn't necessarily address the movie of course.

Are you trying to instigate discussion? :|

(I promise this is the first and last time I act intentionally like a jerk, but you had it coming, and I have a point, too.)
Last edited by Thomas J. on Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
dx23
Posts: 3794
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:52 pm
Location: Puerto Rico

#21 Post by dx23 » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:12 am

malcolm1980 wrote:So it's not OOP?

I checked DeepDiscount.com. They don't have it anymore.
amazon.com has it.
Steven H wrote:This movie was discussed into oblivion (if I remember correctly) before the board crashed in 04 and all the posts were lost.
Yep. It was one of the most discussed Criterions, but everything got lost when the forum crash.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Posts: 29044
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

#22 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:58 am

Thomas J. wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:First, it's a little sad that the best film in the collection has less than one page devoted to it...
"It's a little sad" that this is among your favorite movies, and yet all you can do is go on for multiple paragraphs using vague language to pontificate about something or other. And your argument about the greatness of this movie is what, exactly? You don't sound very inspired by it. The most I can tell from reading this loose generalization is that the real-life event somehow has captivated you, but you don't convey specifically how, and even that wouldn't necessarily address the movie of course.

Are you trying to instigate discussion? :|

(I promise this is the first and last time I act intentionally like a jerk, but you had it coming, and I have a point, too.)
Thomas J: He's Bringing Attitude on the Internet BACK!

User avatar
HerrSchreck
Posts: 6324
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#23 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:50 am

Thomas J. wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:First, it's a little sad that the best film in the collection has less than one page devoted to it...
"It's a little sad" that this is among your favorite movies, and yet all you can do is go on for multiple paragraphs using vague language to pontificate about something or other. And your argument about the greatness of this movie is what, exactly? You don't sound very inspired by it. The most I can tell from reading this loose generalization is that the real-life event somehow has captivated you, but you don't convey specifically how, and even that wouldn't necessarily address the movie of course.

Are you trying to instigate discussion? :|

(I promise this is the first and last time I act intentionally like a jerk, but you had it coming, and I have a point, too.)
"Are you trying to instigate discussion?" (The irony and 1000% batting average of forum non-productivity has caused me to nominate this citizen for a new forum award in his name, kind of like an equiv of the Thahlberg Award, as I've never seen a newbie get himself into this much of a gordonian knot so fast and so enthusiastically.. speaking of, where the hell his Gordon McMurphy?)

Tom you seem to so fanatically crave and relish abuse here on the internet, I'd imagine you in the physical world pay rent to live perpetually cooing & giggling under the head of a sledgehammer. So in the service of your obsession I'll really provide you the suffering you so urgently require by CUTTING MY POST SHORT... because preempted sadism is a masochists nightmare!!

User avatar
Sloper
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

#24 Post by Sloper » Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:34 am

The most I can tell from reading this loose generalization is that the real-life event somehow has captivated you, but you don't convey specifically how, and even that wouldn't necessarily address the movie of course.
Thomas J kind of has a point - I too would find it hard to explain, on a technical level, why this is a great film. For a long time I only watched this with Einhorn's score accompanying it, and only 'appreciated' it on a technical level...and therefore didn't appreciate it very much. It seemed like Eisenstein with less action, and I felt rather ashamed that it left me totally cold.

Then I grew some balls and watched it as Dreyer intended - with the sound off - and suddenly the whole thing came to life. Suddenly it wasn't a film anymore, nor even a documentary, but real life, and it left me feeling emotionally drained at the end. It was like seeing the film for the first time, and I realised why it was better than the best of Eisenstein - because I was not, at any point, thinking about how wonderful the camerawork or the editing were, I was simply feeling the emotions that camerawork and editing were eliciting from me.

It's telling, in this respect, that Dreyer spent so much money on the sets for the film, then hardly showed anything of them. This is a film that, as Schreck says, literally brings you face to face with martyrdom, and it succeeds or fails according to whether you can empathise with Joan's plight and understand her dilemma. If you want a more intellectual analysis of the film, I'm sure you can find plenty of books on the subject - but all you really need to 'get' this film is an understanding of what it means to have faith; that is, faith so strong you would suffer a terrible death in defence of it.

A Man for All Seasons works in a similar way, I think: a very simple film, dramatising a very profound moral dilemma in an unpretentious, and therefore supremely effective, manner. Also a film which I find hard to talk about except in pontifications and generalisations.

Incidentally, I'd be interested to hear other people's preferences about Joan of Arc's soundtrack. It seems to me that Einhorn's music, pretty though it is, destroys the film's spare, documentary-style (forgive the cliches) approach, and turns it into a sentimental religious melodrama. It's like watching the film with someone loudly telling you how it makes them feel the whole way through - not an unedifying experience in this case, perhaps, but it swamps Dreyer.

So which do you favour: Voices of Light, or the sound of your own quickening heartbeat?

User avatar
sevenarts
Posts: 519
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 7:22 pm
Contact:

#25 Post by sevenarts » Fri Jan 11, 2008 10:12 am

I can't watch this with the "Voices of Light" score. I tried, but had to turn it off pretty quickly. It's exactly as you describe it, the music is telling you how to feel whereas the film itself allows you to simply feel on your own. I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to pair such bombastic music with such a spare, delicate film, but it really ruins the experience.

I would agree that the appeal of this film is somewhat hard to describe. It's not one of my favorites, as it apparently is for Schreck, but there is something undeniably powerful about the way Dreyer hones in on the quivering, vulnerable human element at the core of this legendary tale. The blank sets and sparse all-white aesthetic push the emphasis entirely onto Joan, and Dreyer's insistent closeups further narrow the focus. It's a deeply moving film.

Post Reply