• Every ten years since 1952, the world-renowned film magazine Sight & Sound has polled a wide international selection of film critics and directors on what they consider to be the ten greatest works of cinema ever made, and then compiled the results. The top fifty movies in the 2012 critics’ list, unveiled August 1, include twenty-five Criterion titles. In this series, we highlight those classic films.

    It’s difficult to envision a purer, more pared-down work of cinematic art than Carl Theodor Dreyer’s wrenching, intensely focused 1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film is often talked about in terms of its use of the close-up, and indeed, its most memorable visual component is the central, repeated image of Renée Falconetti as the martyred Maid of Orleans, her haunted face so tightly framed, looming so large that we can’t escape her fear, sadness, and horror—or her final spiritual elation. The Passion is perhaps a tribute even more to the power of the cinematic image than to its sainted subject; it reveals that certain elements of human feeling are constant through the centuries. Dreyer wrote, “I did not study the clothes of the time, and things like that. The year of the event seemed as inessential to me as its distance from the present. I wanted to interpret a hymn to the triumph of the soul over life.” Watch a clip from the film below that beautifully evokes that soul, as Joan faces her accusers at the terrible end of her trial.

7 comments

  • By Matthew C. Ruffner
    September 18, 2012
    04:54 PM

    I'm waiting for TPOJOA to come to Blu-Ray, eh! Lookin' forward...thus far it's my fav silent!
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    • By Narrator
      September 18, 2012
      05:14 PM

      And even if it doesn't come soon, there's always the Masters of Cinema Blu-Ray that's coming out in November.
    • By Gord
      September 19, 2012
      07:31 AM

      Like Narrator said...I've pre-ordered Masters of Cinema's The Passion of Joan of Arc steelbook edition. : D And I'm sorry I'm couldn't use a ridiculous acronym for such a profound film. Don't worry Criterion I'll probably get your updated Blu edition as well if only for the Voices of Light score that is so beautiful.
  • By Murmer99
    September 18, 2012
    08:31 PM

    Give us La Notte!
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    • By BlakeEvans
      September 19, 2012
      02:16 AM

      "Persona" and "La Dolce Vita" and throw Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" as well.
  • By Batzomon
    September 19, 2012
    03:50 PM

    Just saw this film, just bought the DVD, just want to say how great that this film is. So I did all those things for the glory of Dreyer.
    Reply
  • By BlakeEvans
    October 01, 2012
    04:03 AM

    I saw "The Virgin Spring" over the weekend, one of the best films ever made - but particularly on the theme of faith. I expect this to be as deep on the subject!
    Reply

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