The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Danish heavyweight Carl Dreyer shot this French film using bare, expressionistic sets, the immolated saint’s actual trial transcripts, and a stage actress named Maria Falconetti, who delivered what many have considered to be the most beautiful and affecting film performance of all time. Of course the issue at hand is spiritual integrity—do you surrender your beliefs, or say you do, in exchange for clemency from an evil empire? Who does God’s work, anyway? One of the faithful, Dreyer was intent on communicating the tormenting experience of spirit-body conflict, and The Passion of Joan of Arc, a well-worn art-house cornerstone, still astonishes.

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