in about 100 words or less
France 110m, B&W, Silent
Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer; Cast: Renée Jeanne Falconetti, Eugène Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz
The Passion of Joan of Arc is the most original and arguably the best film ever made in the history of silent cinema. Filmed largely in documentary style, Dreyer depicts in exquisite yet excruciating detail, the trial, execution, and the historical impact of Joan of Arc’s final hours at the hands of the English court. The use of close-up photography highlights the superb and practically unparalleled performance of Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Joan – whose facial expressions move effortlessly between sorrow, jubilation and madness. The film’s unique cinematography, combined with its continuous emotional build-up, provide a hypnotic viewing experience which is only extinguished by the flames which eventually consume its principal character (Klaus Ming February 2010).