The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc is a French film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer in 1927 and screened for the first time in Copenhagen on. This is a silent film but was initially conceived as a talking film, which Dreyer had to give up for reasons related to the technical equipment of the studio. Hence the disconcerting aspect of this film, which already adopts the codes of speaking while remaining a silent film.


“If Dreyer is the equal of the greatest by language, he is superior to the greatest by his purpose. And if it is vain and probably impossible to choose the second masterpiece of cinema, it is also impossible to hesitate with regard to the first. The Passion of Joan of Arc is the most beautiful film in the world. ” Chris Marker 1

Dreyer chooses here to focus not on the wars waged by Joan of Arc , or even on her execution, but on the trial that was to succeed. In this very narrow frame, he puts in opposition what is read on the face of the maid of Orleans with the grimaces of his accusers and executioners, opposition which is further accentuated by the realism that the director shows to expose his chronicle of this event. It is not therefore a question here of giving an account of a grandiose destiny, but of showing what might be the strength of faith in the face of the pressure of institutions.

Jeanne’s passion obviously echoes the Passion of Christ . Like Christ, who has had to face the misunderstanding, hatred and outrages of the Pharisees , she has to face the incomprehension, humiliation and hatred of the Church. But in showing a suffering and persecuted woman, Dreyer also refers to both the figure of the Virgin and the first martyrsof the Church. Jeanne is in a state of grace and wishes to remain there: like many of Dreyer’s characters, she has made the leap into the unspeakable and can only be understood by those who have themselves made such a conversion. The final scene of Jeanne’s death appears as an apotheosis.

We will note the very noticed appearance of Antonin Artaud in the role of Jean Massieu.

Technical sheet

  • Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer , assisted by Paul La Cour
  • Scenario: Carl Theodor Dreyer and Joseph Delteil
  • Pictures: Rudolph Maté
  • Sets: Hermann Warm (who was the decorator on Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet ) and Jean Hugo
  • Costumes: Valentine Hugo and Jean Hugo
  • Production: Société Générale des Films ( France )
  • Country of origin: France / Denmark
  • Format: 35mm – Black and White 1.33: 1 mute – 1.37: 1 sonicized version an optical track
  • Duration: 114 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  Denmark :(first in Copenhagen )
    •  France :
    •  United States :( New York )


  • Renée Falconetti : Joan of Arc
  • Eugene Silvain : Bishop Pierre Cauchon
  • André Berley : Jean d’Estivet , the Prosecutor
  • Maurice Schutz : Canon Nicolas Loyseleur
  • Jean d’Yd : Guillaume Evrard
  • Louis Ravet : Jean Beaupère
  • Gilbert Dalleu : Jean Lemaître , the vice-inquisitor
  • Michel Simon : a judge
  • Paul Fromet : a judge
  • Armand Lurville : a judge
  • Raymond Narlay : a judge
  • Antonin Artaud : Jean Massieu, the bailiff, Dean of Rouen
  • Camille Bardou : Lord Warwick, English captain of the place de Rouen


The restoration of the original version is almost a miracle, since the first negative had undergone cuts required by censorship and was lost in a fire. Dreyer had succeeded in reconstructing a second version from the remaining falls, which however they also disappeared in another fire. There were then only dubious copies, and it was not until 1981 that a duplicate of the first negative, uncensored, from which the French Cinematheque reconstituted in 1985 was found in a psychiatric asylum in Oslo. the film and the intertitles in a version probably very close to that set by the filmmaker for the premiere of 1928.

Projections in France of the restored film with orchestra

Reims [ change | change the code ]

The first showing of the restored film with French subtitles and live music took place in 1985 in Reims on a giant screen installed in the open air on the cathedral square with an organ accompaniment improvised by Jacques Charpentier [ref. necessary] (See no. of the Avant-Scène du cinéma cited in the bibliography).

Nanterre [ change | change the code ]

In January 1988, the film was presented at the Théâtre des Amandiers de Nanterre accompanied by an original score by Arnaud Petit [ref. necessary] .


The , to celebrate its ten years of existence, the association Andantino coorganizes with the Rencontres Cinématographiques de Cannes (RCC), an original evening, at the Palais des Festivals , mixing cinema and music around the film, supported by the regional orchestra of Cannes -Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur , directed by Philippe Bender , interpreting the music of Jo van den Booren 2 composed especially for this film. This is the first time that the film is screened in the capital of cinema, which is more in the presence of the author of music 3 , 4 , 5 .

Other sound additions

  • In 2015, Donald Greig of the Orlando Consort , a British band of early music , designed a soundtrack of music from the time of Joan of Arc, which the band played live during screenings of the film. The music selected for this accompaniment comes mainly from French composers and little known to the modern public outside the world of early music, with the exception of the Song of Azincourt , relatively known for its use in the film Henry V and including an English adaptation exists. The words echo the film include the Ditié of Joan of Arc of Christine de Pisan , an elegiac poem written during the life of Joan of Arc 6 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ ” The Passion of Joan of Arc ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed March 18, 2018 )
  2. ↑ Jo van den Booren on Dutch wiki
  3. ↑ “Anniversary of Andantino – 10 years”, in Art Côte d’Azur , November 23, 2010, Anniversary of ANDANTINO – 10 YEARS  [ archive ]
  4. ↑ Laurie Huet, Johanna Pocobene, “Joan of Arc and his orchestra” in the small log Film Meetings Cannes , December 8, 2010
  5. ↑ Aurore Busser, “Cine-concert: Jeanne and music … passionately! In Nice-Matin , December 10, 2010
  6. ↑ Greig, Donald, ” Joan of Arc ”  [ archive ] , , (accessed August 7, 2015 )

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