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Customer Review

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part I(Battles) and Part 2 (Prisons)., 1 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Jeanne La Pucelle - Part 1: The Battles [DVD] (DVD)
Jeanne La Pucelle,Part 1-The Battles,Part 2 (The Prisons) is a major attempt to strip away the hype of other interpretations,the rhetoric of religion,the miracles of mythology,to present her as a down-to-earth teenage farmgirl,who hears voices of saints from God telling her to save France from the English and to see the dauphin crowned as King of France.Bonnaire can be stern with her men,pull them up when they blaspheme or are ill disciplined. She can be giggly when her hair is cut and like an immature girl when she is hit by an arrow,crying and vulnerable.There are no close-ups,which is a feature of Rivette's cinema.The film captures well the ebb and flow of sympathy of the soldiers around her,the way they almost hero worship her and become courageous when she is present,flyng a banner,rallying the troops.Rivette respects Dreyers and Bresson's versions presenting a companion piece.This has the realism of medieval reportage rather than costume drama.

Rivette shows a mastery of period detail and dramatic pacing,somehow avoiding cliche s or pitfalls.Bonnaire's performance is compelling and credible.She makes you believe this illiterate peasant teenager could penetrate the sycophantic supporters around the dauphin and make him believe that divine voices would inspire her to victory over the occupying English and that she could be discarded by supporters so easily and persecuted so viciously by her ecclesiastical and military foes.In Bonnaire's portrayal Jeanne has quietness,dignity,but is self assured to lead men into battle.She suggests doubt in private moments about what direction to take.The 1st part is primarily concerned with battles of words rather than battles with armies to convince various men,a captain to provide an escort,the dauphin to trust her,holy men to accept that she is good,armies' leaders to follow her advice.Rivette shows a bleak world without adornment,Joan is worldly,peasant-faced.

She is confronted by worldly barriers,physical problems.Rivette grounds the film in a world of simple routines, budgets,provisions.Earthy human details,sexuality,are not passed over,debunking the myth,what her men think of her, then are ashamed of afterwards.Rivette does everything with sly humour to prick solemnity,emphasising the silly,the profane and the ordinary,rather than the mystical. We see this well in La Hire(Boucher)with hisprofanity and private prayers to God like he's another guy.We are not banged over the head by the spiritual,but it isquietly there.The landscapes are beautiful,foggy,hazy,with muted colours,gently undulating.The bare,desolate walls of sacked castles,stripped by the English.There is a great variety of settings, movement and pace to match. There's a natural grace to the imagery, a concentration on the details and small moments around the big events,the trial and her martyrdom. Rivette uses all his subtlety and nuance to reveal Joan's humanity, and as he always is good with actresses, gets Bonnaire's best ever performance.Marvellous.See this with Dreyer's version for best results.
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