Monday, April 30, 2007

Joan the Maid (1994, Jacques Rivette) [2-part TV version]

Part 1: The Battles- One of many things that Rivette gets exactly right here is how different war was back then. Whereas now weapons are being designed for maximum killing power, a lot of the weapons back in the day were as much defensive as offensive, if not more. As much damage as one could do with a broadsword, one got much more use out of it pushing away opponents and other weapons. If body counts were high back then, it had less to do with deadly injuries as it did with hunger, disease, and infection from those injuries. Oh, and falling.

Part 2: The Prisons- Lots more court intrigue here than I'd remembered, which places Joan's fate in a more complicated context. It's telling that Charles disappears from the film after being crowned- modern audiences might interpret this as turning his back on the people who got him there, but given his position it's understandable, since his new power has caused him to withdraw from the action. Also, why is it that so many movies about saints are shitty, yet Jeanne d'Arc has three great ones about her? Could be that her story has damn near everything a movie like this could hope for- humble beginnings, battle scenes, court intrigue, royal pageantry, and a heroine who is both martyr and a victim of her historical climate.

Both parts: ****.

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