Chicago Sun-Times - 02/16/1997
"...Dreyer cuts the film into a series of startling images....An unsettling experience -- so intimate we fear we will discover more secrets than we desire..."
USA Today - 10/29/1999
"...Carl Dreyer's hallmark of world cinema is re-created history. An no movie has done it better..."
Total Film - 08/01/2003
"...An affecting, indelible masterpiece..."
Description by OLDIES.com:
With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc convinced the world that movies could be art. Renee Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film, 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.
Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer's dramatization of the trial and martyrdom of Joan of Arc remains one of the most striking and original films ever made. Shot entirely in close-ups and utilizing techniques years ahead of his contemporaries, Dreyer's deft cinematography and direction captures the intense emotional and spiritual turmoil of the young martyr--immortalized by the French actress Maria Falconetti in her sole screen performance. The original version, thought lost forever, was discovered in the janitor's closet of a Norwegian mental institution in 1981.
Dreyer's retelling of the trial and martyrdom of Joan of Arc remains one of the most immediate--and startlingly intimate--works of cinema ever produced. Based upon a meticulous study of the transcripts from Joan's trial for heresy in 1431, Dreyer's approach eschewed the grand-scale typical of the epic silent productions of his contemporaries in favor of a stark, angular cinematography filmed almost entirely in close-ups. The result is a stunning, emotional film, carried by French actress Falconetti's inspired, haunting performance, which remains unparalleled to this day.
Although Joseph Delteil's novel was the film's supposed source, and though he was credited as a co-scriptwriter, much of the film's dialogue was taken from the historical records of Joan of Arc's trial.
This was Falconetti's only screen role. She appeared on the stage in Paris.
The film was censored by the Catholic Church when it was released in France. In the years 1940-44, Nazi Germany also prohibited screening of the film in all of its occupied countries.
Produced by the Societe Generale des Films; distributed by M. J. Gourland.