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La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc

(silent 1928 b 82')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Based on the transcripts of her last trial in 1431, Jeanne is questioned by English judges and priests before being burned at the stake.

In her trial Jeanne d'Arc (Maria Falconetti) swears to tell the truth. She is nineteen years old. She believes she was born to save France and that the English will be expelled from France. The judges laugh and ask if God hates the English. Judges ask her about St. Michael. She says she will dress as a man until her mission is completed. Jeanne expects her soul to be saved as a reward, and a judge accuses her of blasphemy. They ask her what God has promised her.

The English plan to trick her. They take a ring off her hand, but it is given back. They write a letter and tell her it is from King Charles. She cannot read; so they read it to her. They ask her to recite the Lord's prayer. They ask her if she is certain of her salvation and if she is in a state of grace. Joan asks a priest if she can attend mass. He asks if she will wear women's clothes then.

Servants make fun of Jeanne with a crown and scepter. Jeanne goes into a torture chamber with learned doctors who accuse her of being betrayed by Satan. They ask her to abjure and accept the Church, or she will be alone. She says she is alone with God. She refuses to confess, sees the torture instruments, and collapses.

Jeanne is put to bed and bled for fever. She asks to be buried in sacred ground. They bring the sacraments, but she refuses to abjure. Jeanne says they are sent by the Devil. They decide to execute her.

A friar says that her king is a heretic. If she does not sign, he says she will be burned alive. A judge helps her sign her name. For her errors she is to be excommunicated and imprisoned. An English officer says she made fools of them.

Jeanne's hair is cut even shorter. She says she takes back her confession and asks to see the judges. Jeanne says she denied God to save her life and spoke from fear of the stake. They prepare her for death at the stake. She says she is God's child, and martyrdom is her great victory. A priest gives her communion, and she prays.

People gather, and Jeanne walks to the stake. Her hands are tied behind her, and the fire is started. As the wood burns, witnesses watch with tears in their eyes. Jeanne is in agony; she says "Jesus" and dies. An old man says they burned a saint. Jeanne's clothes are in flames. Soldiers drive the protesting people away and retreat into the fortress.

Writer-director Carl Theodor Dreyer used actual historic records and no make-up, giving this religious drama extraordinary realism. A conquering nation used their military power and religious hypocrisy to kill the most powerful 19-year-old girl in the history of the world. Her courage to be true to her inner guidance is inspiring.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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