The Passion of Joan of Arc

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Photos from The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) – Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1928. The only silent film I ever find myself talking about. To call it unique doesn’t do justice to the extremity of its uniqueness. Using over 1500 cuts and barring his actors from using makeup, Dreyer creates an overwhelming portrait of alienation and persecution. The photography and lighting are similarly stunning. Dreyer hardly uses establishing shots, choosing instead to juxtapose highly evocative close ups through quick, often jarring, cuts. The basis of the narrative is simple, detailing the trial of a misunderstood and falsely accused figure. Dreyer’s visual mastery elevates Passion to heights that few films have ever reached. Still as fascinating, rich, and revolutionary as it was upon its release in 1928.

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