The Passion of Joan of Arc

Carl Dreyer's 1928 film looks more and more avant-garde as the years go by. His depiction of the trial and execution of Joan of Arc was drawn largely from the actual records of the trial and historical evidence that had come to light only in 1924. As drama, political trials speak for themselves, representing the ethos of an age. The case of Joan was a natural for Dreyer, the film a key work in his ongoing theme of woman, quietly and steadfastly raging against a paternalistic order. In its austerity-the stark sets, the actors' faces without makeup captured in extreme close-up-it is one of the most terrifyingly and unrelentingly emotional works ever filmed. Rudolph Maté's camera finds in the players-Falconetti in her first and last film role, as well as Antonin Artaud and Michel Simon-a historical landscape as individual as a human face.

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