Gabriel ArthurPetrie's Rating of The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)

Gabriel Arthur's Review of The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)

6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jea...(1928)

"The Passion of Jehanne of Arc" is perhaps the greatest film I've ever watched. It's very close in technique and quality to the finest films ever made (I've seen several of these) but unlike any of those, I have watched or listened to (in the background, the silent film backed by Rickert Einhorne's inspired composition "Vox de Lumine") "The Passion" now some dozen times in the last two days. It is not just a triumph of cinema, it is so good that it is more like a mark of finish, where watching it is like breaking a tape at the end of an endless marathon, being done, and knowing that a struggle of importance is now over and that some spectacle of taste has gone behind.

The emission of faces from the lens seems endless at first, and is striking because it is so uncomfortable to be so close to so many subjects under such conditions, where the situation is both so tense and so pathetic at once. But you get used to being close to these endless faces because it is worthwhile seeing them. I cannot understand what autism or other mental fracture caused this film's contemporary critics to shout down the profound use of close-up shots, but I can comprehend that they probably lacked something in the mind that allows one to deal with the unexpected. Perhaps they should have never been born to become reviewers, because to me such condemnations resemble the person who enjoys the habit of spilling beans because they are better at picking them up than carrying them and as a side they more enjoy counting things than being useful. The over-intracted, puppet-like film critic who is out to suckle the teats of the professors at film school must really revel in a film such as this because it breaks so much convention but without falling from grace. If the film breaks convention and is miserable and not worth watching, it's not worth commenting on and it is not worth breaking your neck over spinning about how awful it was directed. But if the film breaks convention and is powerful and magnetizing such as "The Passion" is, then the ardently trained and quiet-minded film school stalwart has endless fodder to smirch the film with at equal proportion to the energy they have not spent on their own imagination.

It is not enough to call a film like this "ahead of its time" or even more aptly "ahead of the time" (meaning, "ahead of this time".) For a film like this it could even be said, and honestly, that "it should not have been made", and the statement need not even require clarification as to whether life and cinema would be better or worse in the film's absence. Both are directly implied and only a person of sufficient imagination can appreciate that level of criticism, can see the possibilities and understand the rapport. It is with such open-mindedness and such acceptance of both the good and bad in life that a simple observation can influence the lives of many people and yet remain nothing more than its original, simple roots all the while, and that is what this film is exactly.