Joan Of Arc

  • 1948
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Biography, Religious

Bergman is compelling and often spellbinding as Jeanne D'Arc, the 15th century French peasant girl who led her people in battle against an invading British horde, became a national hero and, after her capture, torture, and execution by the British, a Catholic saint. Jeanne is a young girl living in Domremy in the province of Lorraine when she hears voices...read more

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Bergman is compelling and often spellbinding as Jeanne D'Arc, the 15th century French peasant girl who led her people in battle against an invading British horde, became a national hero and, after her capture, torture, and execution by the British, a Catholic saint. Jeanne is a young girl

living in Domremy in the province of Lorraine when she hears voices instructing her to go to the aid of France and drive out the English interlopers. Sponsored by Sir Robert Baudricort (Coulouris) she is sent to the court of the Dauphin Charles VII (Ferrer), whom she intends to crown king, despite

the efforts of the English to the contrary. Charles, a clever and worldly creature, discounts the stories of this saintly maid and quickly devises a scheme to show her up. He has one of his posturing courtiers, Ney, pretend to be the Dauphin, but when Jeanne is introduced to him, she turns away

and picks Charles out of the crowd in court, going to him and identifying him, speaking to him in such earnest and loyal terms that he is moved and believes that she has been sent by heavenly forces. He encourages her to gather an army, giving her funds and his best generals. With standard in

hand, she and her army lift the siege of Orleans and march on to one stunning victory after another. The French people adore the maid as her battle standards are raised in many great triumphs, and the army is inspired by her great spirit and its military leaders startled by her eloquence and

command of tactics. Jeanne's greatest achievement in her eyes, one she claims she was commanded to perform from on high, is seeing Charles crowned king at Rheims. But Charles fears Jeanne's incredible influence and he discards her to make money and land deals to enrich his personal coffers.

Depressed, Jeanne is taken captive by the English and put through an ecclesiastical trial, then tried again in a civil court. Her persecutor is Cauchon (Sullivan), the vile judge who railroads her into a death sentence. The English, making a martyr out of a simple peasant girl, burn Jeanne at the

stake.

Bergman, although surrounded by a great array of superlative supporting players, must carry this very long but lavishly mounted film alone and she almost turns it into a solo masterpiece. She is incredible, exuding a goodness that bespeaks sainthood, and many of her scenes are nothing less than

inspired. Her battle scenes and, particularly, her death scene at the stake with her head shorn and her face registering sheer agony, are absolutely riveting. No one in the modern era of sound film ever approached Bergman's interpretation of the maid from Lorraine, although Alida Valli does give a

smashing cameo performance of St. Joan in MIRACLE OF THE BELLS. Bergman later stated that one of her lifelong goals was to play the part of Joan of Arc and that she and her director, Fleming, put everything into it, yet it failed because it was too big, too long. For years, wherever she went

around the world, she would be met by moviegoers who remembered her as the crop-headed saintly leader. For 15 years, whenever Bergman returned to France, customs officials would greet her with the same line: "Ah, Jeanne d'Arc--welcome home." The script by Anderson and Solt, based on Anderson's hit

play "Joan of Lorraine," is beautifully written, full of solid and often stirring dialog, but Anderson, in an attempt to make his own religious points, often dipped into the hortatory and came up with tedium, particularly in the long, drawn-out trial sequences. Ferrer is excellent as the devious

Dauphin and Emery and Ireland are simply great as military men who follow Bergman through fire and smoke. Fleming's direction is superb, particularly the battle and crowd scenes; he was a master of handling massive mobs of people as he had proved so effectively in THE WIZARD OF OZ and GONE WITH

THE WIND.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Bergman is compelling and often spellbinding as Jeanne D'Arc, the 15th century French peasant girl who led her people in battle against an invading British horde, became a national hero and, after her capture, torture, and execution by the British, a Catho… (more)

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