The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Another library loan (this one mostly played OK), cos I thought it was time I gave France’s favourite little religious fanatic another chance; I haven’t watched this in nearly a decade, and this is probably the first time I’ve come close to liking it. I didn’t like it when I first saw it on SBS circa 1996, but assumed that was cos their print had no soundtrack (even though I had liked other silent films I’d seen without scores). Then I saw the Criterion edition with the Richard Einhorn score and still didn’t like it. And I could never shake the suspicion that it really should’ve been a talkie (like Dreyer supposedly wanted to make it); I’ve never seen any other silent film where I missed the presence of audible dialogue. Tonight, though, I don’t think I missed it as much, and the score on the local DVD from Shock was kind of irritating so I dispensed with it to concentrate on the visuals… don’t think I ever noticed just how mobile the camera is in the film before. I still find it a difficult experience, and must admit to finding la Falconetti off-putting as Jeanne for reasons I can’t explain. And I suspect I appreciate the achievement without feeling close to it. Still, I come away admiring the film much more than I once did, so I’ll settle for that.

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