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Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc [Blu-ray] [US Import]

Dustin Hoffman    Blu-ray
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, Korean, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Dec 2008
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001GF8WOO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,751 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Over the years, many film directors have attempted to tell the story of legendary 15th-century heroine Joan of Arc, a simple country girl who claimed she was inspired by God to lead the French troops in a victorious assault on the mighty English army. Luc Besson's 1999 epic might not be the best version of her life, but it's certainly the biggest. The movie cost a reported $60 million. Even if you are terminally unimpressed by the scale of such recent blockbusters as Gladiator, your eyes will pop out at the sheer number of bodies (living and dead) that Besson has assembled for the dynamic battle scenes. The lavish sets and costumes are almost equally gobsmacking, though neither will show to maximum advantage on the small screen. That's a pity because size is the only thing Joan of Arc really has going for it--as a human drama, it falls completely flat.

The historical Joan was eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, and earlier biopics tended to treat her celestial visions as literal fact. It was probably a mistake for Besson and his co-screenwriter Andrew Birkin to take a more psychological approach and present them as figments of her hysterical imagination. It makes it hard to work up the necessary empathy when the spectacle revolves around a confused and neurotic babe who couldn't organise a Tupperware party, let alone a vast military campaign. Milla Jovovich (the star of Besson's previous The Fifth Element and formerly his wife) doesn't help matters with her shrill and amateurish performance. But a couple of the supporting players are passably amusing--John Malkovich camps it up energetically as Charles, the dispossessed French king whom Joan reinstates, while Faye Dunaway wears outlandish headgear and carries on like a science-fiction creation in the role of his scheming mother-in-law. (The less said the better about Dustin Hoffman's pompous turn as Joan's personified conscience.) Besson keeps to the same glossy visual style even when the Maid is burning at the stake, but it isn't enough to prevent this empty shell of a movie from being a colossal yawn. --Peter Matthews


Action master Besson takes on French history in this ambitious look at the legendary saint and martyr. Beginning with a young Joan witnessing her sister's rape and murder at the hands of brutal English soldiers, the film picks up years later when Joan (Jovovich) appears at the court of the French Dauphin (Malkovich), who is making little progress against his enemies. Joan's self-confidence and charisma induce the Dauphin to take a gamble by allowing her to lead troops, resulting in an upset victory at Orleans. However, Joan eventually outlives her usefulness to the French throne and is sold out to the English, who burn her for heresy. All the while, Joan struggles with her faith, exasperating the experienced French generals and having impassioned arguments with her imaginary 'Conscience' (Hoffman).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Probably not what was intended but still fun. 21 Oct 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I have a feeling that this desperately wants to be a great film but, unfortunately, it's not. The difficulty here is explaining why it's not.
Have you ever tried to explain why "Casablanca" is great to someone who hasn't seen it? All the pieces just fell out at the end and there was a great film.
The more I think about various scenes in Joan of Arc, the more I think I must have just watched a great movie but when I actually got to the end of the movie, I was oddly unsatisfied.
Basically, despite any pretensions it has of being "deep", it's just a bit of a romp.
Most of the entertainment comes from the supporting characters. John Malkovich's scenes with his advisers, family and henchmen are worth watching the film for alone.
Naturally the villains are English and we all know what great villains the English make. One particularly nasty bit of work appears to actually be Scottish, which is bizarre considering the historical setting, but like I say, this is fun if you aren’t taking the film seriously.
Joan herself (Jovovich) is every bit as annoying as I'm sure the obsessed woman was in real life.
Was she a saint? Was she a heretic? Was she mad?
I don't know whether or not it was deliberate but Jovovich's performance clearly puts Joan in the "just plain bonkers" category. But again this is part of fun.
Dustin Hoffman plays Jiminy Cricket… er, I mean her conscience but whether or not he actually read the whole script, or indeed if he knows what the film is about, I will leave to your own judgement. Oddly enough the idea of this mega star hamming it up in a borrowed cloak (I assume he didn't bother have a costume fitted) actually adds to the general rompyness of the whole thing.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much maligned but I liked it 17 May 2007
By Jay
Luc Besson has a reputation for spectacular movies such as Taxi, Leon, The Fifth Element, etc. Joan of Arc is no exception. It details the life of Jeanne, the maiden of Lorraine, who in and around the year 1431, helped France defeat England, and win a war that has lasted for almost an entire century. The plot is great, and paced well. The performances that impressed me the most, however, were those of Milla Jovovich and Dustin Hoffman, as Jeanne and her conscience, respectively. They never cease to amaze me. The characters were well-written and credible. I liked the way the film seems to question Jeanne's sanity; whereas most believe that she *was* in fact, sent by God, this film sits down and asks the question, if she really was, or if the signs and miracles weren't all in her head, and caused by everyone wanting to believe it. The very last scenes especially puts doubt in the viewer. It was quite a gutsy move by Besson, to question his own country's hero. I will admit, the film does really make it seem more like she is crazy rather than sent by God, but it doesn't feel like Besson is pushing his view onto us, telling us that that's the way it was; it feels more like he tries to make us question it. The action and the war scenes were very well done, very chaotic and disturbing, very intense and bloody.
All in all, a very enjoyable war-drama, with an authentic story and some well-done battle sequences. I recommend it to fans of the actors, of Luc Besson's other work and of war movies/dramas in general. Just don't expect a full-out war movie; it's two hours and thirty minutes long, and I don't think more than forty-five minutes in total are spent fighting.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting epic 6 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I really enjoyed this film. Contrary to Amazon's review, I felt that Milla gave a riveting performance as Joan, making her a sympathetic, but real, warts and all, character. The portrayal of her God given messages are suited to today's more sceptic audiences. The film never really answers the question were they real or not, which is a positive point, as no one really knows. It's nice not to be offered simple answers. On a personal level it's the interaction between Joan and the generals that interested me most, and which gives the film a human aspect. I know very little about the real Joan of Arc, but this film makes me want to find out more, which is what historic films should do. The battle sequences were honestly brutal - making Gladiator look tame by comparison. Not a film for the faint hearted but fascinating for anyone who wants to watch a complex film that doesn't insult the audience by offering a lame, cliched solution.!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original and spectacular 17 Jun 2012
This film has a rather original - and perhaps not always convincing - take on the character of Joan of Arc, played here by Milla Jovovich as being somewhat shrill, or even hysterical at times. One reviewer wondered whethe she was really a Saint inspired by God (but then why would God necessarily take the French's side?) or whether she was "plain bonkers". Luc Besson, often original - regardless of whether tou likeor not what he does (and a lot of people tend to not like it - seems to have gone for some mix of the two.

This tends to somewhat summarize LUc Besson, his style, and this film in particular. It is spectacular all the way, from the battle scenes - as gory and "realistic" as you might expect - to Jeanne's "voices", pictured as if in some kind of fantasy or even a horror film. You like it very much or you dislike it just as intensily, or, you like perhaps some of it - the battle scenes are rather good, although they may perhaps feel a bit "overdone" -(and "over gory" in particlar), but then this is about personal preferences and since none of us were actually there, it's rather difficult to objectively appreciate whether scene A or scene B is "realistic" or not.

Now, to what extent is this film historically accurate? Here also, reviewers have tended to go to extremes. In fact, the film is generally more accurate than the average film we are used to watching, whether Troy, Brave Heart, Gladiator, Robin Hood (both the older version with Kevin Costner and the one with Russell Crowe), Kingdom of Heaven. However, everything is definitly NOT historical. The Director has taken a number of liberties, as Directors always tend to do.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good copy and good movie.
Published 18 days ago by paz
1.0 out of 5 stars not a intresting film
Joan of ark is a well know piece of history although I don't know what the real story is , although it as great acting and historic view thr religious sense is very dull. Read more
Published 9 months ago by juliedilworth
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good.
It was grate. High quality version of this film. Even the fact there was no lector version of a labguage I was looking for had any significant influance on my satisfaction with the... Read more
Published 15 months ago by MR MA BORON
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
I know the movie well and it is worth to have it in your library. The ending is some what odd with Dustin Hofmann as god but worth watching.
Published 20 months ago by GSW
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to confuse the messenger with the message
I liked this film. The end maybe the real beginning for Joan - just a pity she didn't get there earlier: all the heroism shown to be tainted with vanity and yet the Dauphin was on... Read more
Published 23 months ago by .
In 1429 the Hundred Years War is not going well for France. English soldiers are freely roaming French soil and the Duke of Burgundy (MICHAEL JENN) has allianced himself with the... Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2012 by Napoleon
2.0 out of 5 stars Tons of eye-candy but not much else
Positive: Spectacular, well-choreographed battle scenes; Milla Jovovitch puts in a decent enough performance and looks the part; blu-ray image quality is highly impressive; Dolby... Read more
Published on 12 Mar 2012 by Cartimand
Published on 9 Feb 2012 by Pirujo
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot better than 'Braveheart' a visual spectacle, with a realistically professional looking enemy. Although, like 'Braveheart' also historically highly flawed. Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2012 by P. F. Darlington
2.0 out of 5 stars A Visually Impressive Unworthy Romp
Whatever may be the truth behind the mystery of the real Joan of Ark, this film fails to carry any conviction. Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2011 by R. C. Ross
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