The Passion of Joan of Arc (French: La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc) is a 1928 silent French film based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc. The film was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Joan. It is widely regarded as a landmark of cinema, which is often listed as one of the finest in cinema history. The film summarizes the time that Joan of Arc was a captive in England, depicting her trial and execution.
Marisa Cornford (professional composer and pianist based in Bourne End) has scored the film. It will be played live by Marisa, keyboard, and her husband, Dan Cornford, viola. Marisa and Dan will give an introductory talk before the screening.
Danish film director Dreyer was invited to make a film in France by the Société Générale des Films and chose to make a film about Joan of Arc due to her renewed popularity in France. Dreyer spent over a year researching Joan of Arc and the transcripts of her trial before writing the script. Dreyer cast stage actress Falconetti as Joan in her only major film role. Falconetti's performance and devotion to the role during filming have become legendary among film scholars. The film was shot on one huge concrete set modelled on medieval architecture in order to realistically portray the Rouen prison. The film is known for its cinematography and use of close-ups. Dreyer also didn't allow the actors to wear make-up and used lighting designs that made the actors look more grotesque.
Dreyer's final version of the film was cut down due to pressure from the Archbishop of Paris and from government censors. For several decades it was released and viewed in various re-edited versions that had attempted to restore Dreyer's final cut. In 1981 a film print of Dreyer's final cut of the film was finally discovered in a mental institution in Oslo, Norway and re-released.
Despite the objections and cutting of the film by clerical and government authorities, it was a major critical success when first released and has consistently been considered one of the greatest films ever made.