Cinephiles in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, won’t want to sleep in this Saturday morning: Carl Theodor Dreyer’s transcendent The Passion of Joan of Arc will show at 9:30 at the a/perture cinema, an early-bird screening copresented by Wake Forest University religious-studies professor Ulrike Weithaus. Bringing to life the fraught final hours of the future saint, the shattering silent masterpiece has at its heart a legendary lead performance by Renée Falconetti, who would never appear in another movie. And on the level of form, Dreyer’s film possesses a purity that extends well beyond its devotion to close-ups of faces, most of which provide a window into Joan’s embattled soul, as a clerical court prepares to send the nineteen-year-old visionary to her execution. As Dreyer wrote in a 1929 director’s statement that’s included in our edition of the film, “In order to give the truth, I dispensed with ‘beautification.’ My actors were not allowed to touch makeup and powder puffs.” He also sought to achieve a heightened psychological realism by shooting the whole thing in sequence: “I let the scene architects build all the sets and make all the other preparations, and from the first to the last scene everything was shot in the right order.”
Two Stark Visions of the American Underbelly Hit the Big Screen
A new restoration of the groundbreaking vérité documentary Streetwise joins its companion piece, Tiny: the Life of Eric Blackwell, at New York’s Metrograph theater this weekend.