The greatest Joan of Arc of the screen
Christoph Berner | Vienna, Austria | 03/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, though having watched Milla Jovovich as the new "Joan of Arc" in Luc Besson`s film a few weeks ago (although it is very good) no other treatment of the story comes as close as this 1916 masterpiece, which stands up as one of the first true epics in cinema history. You may wonder about the melodramatic storyline and the propaganda input into the movie when glorifying Joan of Arc as the saviour of France even 600 years later from the German enemy, but these scenes are more than made up by the typical DeMille treatment, involving grand scale battle scenes, beautiful sets for the time, a great performance by opera diva Geraldine Farrar (very holy) and a rousing organ score which will certainly haunt you even after seeing the movie. A movie that certainly rivaled "Intolerance" for the title of the greatest movie in the 1910`s. And a scene you certainly won`t forget is the moving climax when Joan is burned as a saint ... shot in an unbelievable beautiful done hand-colored scene that shows everyone the almost magical power of the silent screen. Certainly one of Cecil DeMille`s best films, even in this early stage of his career."
Early Cecil B De Mille at his best!
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 06/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1916 production is DeMille's first big spectacle picture and lays the groundwork for his most famous work in later decades, and it already has many of the DeMille hallmarks: grand battle scenes, impressive sets and dramatic performances by the principal players. "Joan the Woman" is a fairly accurate historical account of Joan of Arc, with the addition of a romance between Joan and Englishman Eric Trent to add deeper emotion and drama to which the audience can relate, as well as another intriguing aspect to make the film come to life and have relevance in our time: placing the story of Joan within the story about a World War I soldier faced with a suicidal mission and in need of saintly courage like that of a martyr, Joan of Arc. By far the bulk of the picture is about Joan, beginning with her first vision of an angel and hearing her calling, to her burning at the stake as a witch. Joan is portrayed superbly by the multi-talented opera singer Geraldine Farrar, (who also wrote songs and a few books) and I can't imagine anyone else playing the part of Joan better than she did. While not possessing the usual slim figure we are used to seeing in our heroines, Farrar's stout figure is perfect for the part Joan of Arc took upon herself, namely dressing as a man, a soldier, and leading the French Army to victory. Her gestures and serene face express the holy side of Joan, and I found Wallace Reid, a popular actor of the times, in the role of Eric Trent also a perfect choice. Apart from performances, there are many images that DeMille captures to express a mood or idea, and overall this is a beautiful, artistic film; in my opinion better than most of his later big spectacles. The picture quality on this DVD is wonderfully clear, and near the end we are treated to some special colour effects for the flames that engulf Joan at the stake. For such a grand picture I imagine an orchestral score would do it proper justice, but the organ accompaniment is the actual 1916 score and has all the necessary variety to emphasize the moods and dramas in the film. "Joan the Woman" is no doubt an important milestone in Cecil B DeMille's career, as well as in the development of the film industry; "Joan the Woman" competing with other big epics and directors such as D. W. Griffith and "Intolerance". Apart from having an important place in the silent film era - and in any good silent film collection - "Joan the Woman" would also be significant to anyone interested in history, particularly Joan or Arc."