Monday, January 4, 2010

Out Of The Frying Pan And Into...

The Passion Of Joan Of Arc(1932)Directed By Carl Theyodor Dreyer
The only silent film, Ive ever had a real emotional reaction to. All of the characters besides Joan look like ancient statues, while she alone appears to be the only real feeling human in the film. Even without a story attached (there is one), I imagine this film would be clear to anyone; the old men, the young girl, the judgement, the fire, but really the story takes place across Joan's face. Anyone raised in an evangelical environment might recognize the look of awe and terror in Joan's eyes, as she speaks from some distant barely submerged place of conviction and we get the sense, that she not only speaks but thinks in never ceasing prayer (the rest of you can rent "Jesus Camp", for a better sampling). What's particularly amazing about this film is that God, is not represented by any kind of surreal or Biblical image, the notion of "faith" is made flesh in Joan, it's "long-suffering" maximized in every close up. What makes this film so appealing I think to both the religious and secular crowds, is that it is a human film first and foremost, but it's also open to and geared toward a religious reading. But that's all just talk (which this film has little of), the story is in the images, and this is one of the few examples of a book which may be best judged by it's cover, because that picture of Maria Falconetti (who never made another film after this) is the image which everything here revolves around.

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