Friday, November 5, 2010

The Passion of Joan of Arc

The first movie on the Image's list that I decided to tackle was The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). It is a silent film directed by Carl Dreyer. The first thing that I noticed about the movie is that there seems to be a good reason that people don't watch 1920s silent films anymore. Its hard to watch a movie in complete silence. It actually takes effort to stay focused and follow the action of the movie. In the absence of sound, the viewer must glean all emotion from the sense of sight. I immediately had a new appreciation for music and the power it has to move an audiences emotional connection and reaction to a film. To convey the intense emotion that this film is famous for, Dreyer used stunning photography. Long, almost awkward, shots are held on the main actresses face, so that the viewer can examine and begin to experience every painful gesture of her saintly countenance. By the time she is being burned at the stake, I found that the silent film is the perfect medium to tell the story of Saint Joan. It allows the viewer to experience just a hint of the patience and resolve required of a martyr.

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