With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc convinced the world that movies could be art. Renée Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances ever recorded on fi... more »lm, as the young maiden who died for God and France. Long thought to have been lost to fire, the original version was miraculously found in perfect condition in 1981-in a Norwegian mental institution. Criterion is proud to present this milestone of silent cinema in a new special edition featuring composer Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, an original opera/oratorio inspired by the film.« less
Worth the purchase price (details and specs below)
FrontPage | Baltimore, MD United States | 09/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Passion of Joan of Arc" was beautiful. I put it on my list of essential DVDs after viewing the last part of it on Turner Classic Movies.Other reviews have said that "Passion" was the best of the films of Joan of Arc, and after viewing this masterpiece directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (cq), it's hard to think that something better could be out there. Five stars across the board for the presentation, quality (sound and video) and for the film itself, which is one that demands the most caring team to make certain that a DVD presentation is of the best quality. This comes from the Criterion Collection, and make no mistake about it, they did what this archive in cinematic achievement demanded. The DVD contains a digitally restored, black and white transfer from an original negative which was discovered in 1981 in a Norwegian mental institution (perhaps the person who hid this gem was not crazy, after all). Originally a silent movie, the film is accompanied by a digital stereo composition performed by Anonymous 4 with soloist Susan Narucki and the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic and Choir. The audio, which is optional to the viewing of "Passion" is GORGEOUS. The music alone is worth the price of admission.Included with the DVD is a "Voices of Light" libretto booklet. Kudos to composer Richard Einhorn. If you're reading this, I'd love your autograph. This work is a "must have" in a serious collector of cinematic (and orchestral) genius, so if you're both, kill both birds with the same stone.For the movie, I was stunned at the cinematic approach to filming "Passion." This is why I am certain that no one has come to within the state border of being close to the depth of passion that pours out of EVERY frame. From the opening scene to the bitter end, this DVD keeps you involved. By the end, you may be in tears, as I was. Lead actress Renee Falconetti (imdb database has her listed as Maria Falconetti) is flawless in her role as Joan of Arc, and it's simply a pity that her nature kept her away from acting. She only made two films (according to the imdb database, "La Comtesse de Somerive"  was her first) and "Passion" was her second. It seemed as though she became Joan from the start, and as she presented her role, she seemed to almost be consumed by the spirit of Joan's demise herself. I wonder if Falconetti was all but traumatized by the structure in which she had to act the part? A website said that she fled her country during World War II for Buenos Aires, where she lived until 1946. For those interested in filmmaking, this movie MUST BE SEEN. Repeat that sentence, which bears repeating. To this day, you will not see the wonderfully filmed and lit scenes, credited by Rudolph Mate, director of photography. The filming doesn't go by the book, because in 1928, no book was even written on filmmaking. Today, I wish more directors and DP's would go more by the books of Dreyer and Mate. Technical details: This is ONLY for the Criterion Collection version: Transfer of an original print, via digital restoration; 82 minutes, B&W (no colorization) at its original screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (which is now TV format ratio); French intertitles and optional English subtitles; optional silent- viewing or the digital stereo 5.1 surround of "Voices of Light," which was written for "Passion"; optional audio commentary by Univ. of Copenhagen Dreyer scholar Casper Tybjerg; audio interview with Falconetti's daughter; details on the film's restoration (with video comparisons); video essay on "Voices of Light"; 3- page dual- sided pamphlet which includes a small passage that Th. Dreyer wrote; 25- page "Voices of Light" libretto booklet; plus a Criterion catalog."
Dreyer and Einhorn - Perfect Together
El Kabong | 01/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's nothing to add to the chorus of high praise this masterpiece has already received, so I won't try. Just one point: the restored version features a new score, VOICES OF LIGHT. I'm not the biggest fan of grafting new music to vintage films - too often it's ill-fitting, adding nothing but a showy distraction to the narrative . Here it's a marriage made in Heaven. Absolutely the most moving and mesmerizing film score I've ever heard, greatly enhancing an already great movie. Viewers in 1928 were probably thunderstruck by Dreyer's vision and imagery, but Einhorn's score gives voice to Joan's inner devotion and faith, transforming this film of sexist persecution and religious hypocrisy into a true passion play of martyrdom. As for historical inaccuracies, remember that this is not a movie about Joan of Arc but about the Trial of Joan of Arc. It's not History but History refracted through slow glass for the purposes of Art."
Mykal Banta | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 08/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, this is certainly a film that can't be argued with. The Amazon reviews of this film have used up about every superlative there is. If ever a film screamed "classic", it has to be this one. I mean, damn, at one point the film was thought destroyed by fire, like Joan herself, only to be discovered in the closet of lunatic asylum - and in pristine condition, no less. Just as though God himself had placed the thing there for safe keeping. I surrender. The film is blessed.
I'll just add this for the perspective buyer that may be a bit intimidated by the bombast of the reviews: please don't assume this film will be like going to a required class. It truly is thrilling. The final scene, when Joan is burned, is one of the most gripping pieces of film-making I've ever scene. It builds and builds with quick edits, the camera suddenly moving like the eye of a terrified child, each image a bit more twisted and seared than the last, until finally you realize you are watching something mankind should not witness - the apocalypse descending on earth. As Kurtz would say, "The horror. The horror."
Worth the price of admission, wouldn't you say? --Mykal Banta "
A stunning piece of film
Belinda Sawyer | Atlanta, GA | 10/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The in-your-face closeups and blunt filmwork take a few minutes to get used to, give it a chance. I had the privilege of seeing the film accompanied by a live performance by Anonymous 4, soloists and chamber orchestra a couple of years ago. I've been hoping someone would marry the two on DVD. This is one of the most amazing feats of filmmaking I've ever seen. Particularly since it was created in 1928 -- the direction, the close ups, the weird camera angles are fabulously innovative even by today's standards. There are actually fewer subtitles than you might expect, so much of the story is told by Falconetti's eyes. The scene between her and the sympathetic priest is particularly moving. And Einhorn's score is surprising too, even if you've heard it before -- the lovely, comforting aria as Joan is being tied to the stake, for example(not the juxtaposition I expected, but wonderfully effective). I remember feeling that, later in that scene (which Dreyer extends to great effect) the strings captured the very texture of the flames. Obviously, I was tremendously impressed by the performance I saw and can't wait to own the DVD."
A Timeless Masterpiece.
Mr. Fellini | El Paso, Texas United States | 07/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" is undeniably one of the greatest of all films. It is a masterpiece not only of the silent era, but of powerful filmmaking as a whole. It proves that great art does not lose its effect or value with age. It stands with works like Luis Buñuel's "Un Chien Andalou" and F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" and Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" as one of the principle and important films of the silent era. Carl Dreyer's brilliant directing creates a claustrophobic intensity as we feel the pressure on Joan as the tribunal of priests decide her fate. Maria Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances on film of all time, if not the best, looking at her here is seeing eyes that will never leave your memory. She completely lets us FEEL this character, this mystic woman who is being judged. The editing and camera work create a visceral experience filled with true emotions. And the addition of the "Voices Of Light" score is brilliant because it adds to the film's hypnotic effect. "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" also feels incredibly real and does actually serve as a breathing, living document. It is a marvelous work of art, filled with moments you will not forget. Any film enthusiast, anyone who truly has a deep appreciation for the cinema should, must see it."