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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Trial Of Joan Of Arc [1962] [DVD]
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on 3 May 2017
The story of Joan of Arc, or parts of it, has been told perhaps 7/8 times on screen since 1928. but this ranks as one of the best.
Concentrating on her trial and generally using just the actual transcript of that trial, it is extremely powerful, even though it uses non-professional actors (or perhaps because it does use them). It is appropriately spoken in French, with English subtitles.
It is very moving as you learn how Joan was shockingly treated by this interrogation after doing so much for France.
The DVD has many illuminating extras including an interview with the director, Robert Bresson at the time the film was made and an interview with Florence Delay, who played Joan,some forty years later. If the story of Jeanne D'Arc interests you, this is an essential film.
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on 6 October 2011
Robert Bresson's account of the trial of St.Joan , which uses actual recorded text from the time. It is a sombre, austere version full of inner turmoil rather than the harrowing naked emotion shown in Carl Dreyer's masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc.
There are some good extras too (to make up for the short length of the film itsel - just 61 minutes) including interviews with Robert Bresson and the lady who played Joan - Florence Carrez. Also there's an excellent documentary from French Television, discussing the facts and the myths behind Joan of Arc. The picture quality is very good too.
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on 16 April 2017
Excellent item, prompt shipment. Thanks.
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on 5 November 2017
excellent film
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 12 June 2014
Catholicism and imprisonment are two themes that permeate all 13 of Robert Bresson's films and it's no surprise that in 1962 he made The Trial of Joan of Arc (Procès de Jeanne d'Arc). One of some 40 other adaptations of the same story it must be by some distance the most austere, the starkest, the most honest, the most factual and perhaps the most moving of them all. It is always compared with Dreyer's justly famous version The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) mostly to its disadvantage, however I feel both are too different to be compared. They are equally stunning in their own ways. Bresson famously dissed Dreyer's work despising the actors' "grotesque buffooneries", but then he professed to hate everyone's films except his own and his opinion is not to be taken too seriously.

Joan of Arc's story is oft-told, but it's perhaps wise to remind ourselves of the basic facts (sullied as they have been particularly in Hollyweird versions). Joan was born c.1412 and died at the age of 19 on 30th May, 1431. Her crime was heresy (she had claimed to have seen visions of the Almighty), but actually she was sentenced to be burned at the stake for political reasons. She supported Charles VII to recover France from the English invaders during the Hundred Years' War. She had famously taken a prominent role (historians dispute how prominent) in the relief of the Siege of Orlèans in 1430, was captured and handed over to the English who arranged a kangaroo court presided over by the Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon with a panel of England-supporting priests who were certain to pronounce her guilty. 25 years after her death at the stake Pope Callixtus III pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr. She was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is one of 9 patron saints of France. Known as `The Maid of Orlèans', she is now not only a Roman Catholic Saint, but also a heroine of France, a national symbol of freedom. The French Resistance during World War II and Charles de Gaulle's French government in exile used the Cross of Lorraine (the symbol for Joan) in their flag. Robert Bresson fought for the Resistance and was imprisoned for a year by the Nazis - facts that made the making of this film an inevitability.

The first thing to take on board about Bresson's film is the way it is based on the real transcript of Joan's trial. The questions she is asked and the answers she gives are verbatim from the transcript. Secondly, Bresson and his regular cameraman L. H. Burel shoot the film straight as a documentary record of the trial punctuated by brief scenes in her cell. The camera stares unremittingly at Joan (Florence Delay) and her inquisitor Cauchon (Jean-Claude Fourneau) as the questions are fired rapidly and answered in a monotone. Bresson deploys his usual amateur `models' (his last film to use professional actors had been Les dames du Bois de Boulogne [1945]) to render their monosyllabic utterances entirely void of artificial melodrama. We see a dour old man fire his catechism at a poor defenceless 19 year old virgin and our hearts are touched in the most direct manner possible. Thirdly, Bresson makes inspired use of off-screen sound. We hear (but never see) the crowd milling around shouting their accusations at various points. It is significant that the antagonisms are hurled in English while the trial takes place in French. Fourthly, the brief scenes in Joan's cell are used not to relate respite from her ordeal, but rather to pour further humiliation onto the victim. She is spied at voyeuristically through holes in the wall, tied to her bed with chains and vaginally-inspected to determine if she really is a virgin. She is forced to squat on a bare wooden seat as if it were a toilet and is stared at pitilessly by English lords ogling her flesh and baying for her blood. Bresson's cold austere treatment is unrelenting in its effect on both the victim and the audience so that although we have been watching for just 60 minutes, when we are led to the stake and the fire is lit we feel we have been watching for hours. With her death comes a huge sense of release. As Joan expires she looks at the crucifix dangling in front of her on a pole (at her request) and we know that though flesh may perish the spirit lives on.

This Artificial Eye DVD is excellent. The visuals are crystal-clear, enhanced for widescreen and with excellent b/w resolution. The sound is Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 and is probably as good as it can be. It's a short film and there are some 27 minutes of extras which are good - interviews with Bresson, Florence Delay, Andre Malraux and George Duby/Laure Adler; a French TV documentary on the background of Joan. A powerful film very well-presented, it is essential Robert Bresson.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 October 2014
Choice-wise, perhaps the most 'obvious’ of all Robert Bresson’s films, this succinct (barely over an hour), stark depiction of the final hours of the French saint finds the master in typical minimalist mood, with Léonce-Henri Burel’s cinematography bordering on the more conventional, but with the director (again typically) coaxing a series of mesmerising acting turns from his 'first-time’ cast, most notably that of Florrence Delay’s vulnerable, but spiritually indomitable, title character. The themes of personal and spiritual redemption, incarceration and coercion are, of course, familiar territory for Bresson and here – with the film’s claustrophobic, single-track narrative, together with its restrained, but resigned, inevitability – they are, arguably, explored to greater emotional effect than anywhere else in the film-maker’s oeuvre.

Given the film’s narrative veracity – Bresson adapted his screenplay directly from the recorded notes of the trial – it is impossible to divorce the goings-on from their historical context, as an impressive Jean-Claude Fourneau as the presiding (almost sympathetic) 'judge’, Bishop Cauchon, continues to have his ears burnt by the 'conniving English’ (to cries of 'she must be burnt’), but Joan’s (and Delay’s) unshakeable spiritual belief ('God must be served first’) and humanity have the cumulative effect of transcending the individual human story that is at the centre of Bresson’s film and instead providing a universal parable of good vs. evil. And, although Bresson tells his story in the simplest narrative terms, he accentuates the surreptitious malevolence of the English 'baddies’ (and their French collaborators) by the brilliant cinematic device of plotting faces whispering behind a 'spy-hole’, as they attempt to coerce Joan into 'committing heresy’ (whether this be via her spiritual communications or her sexual 'proclivities’).

Similarly, although the film is building slowly towards its inevitable denouement, Bresson includes a couple of other brilliant cinematic touches, as Joan’s march to the scaffold (in her 'restricting’ cloak) takes the form of a shuffle – in contrast to the film’s opening close-up on her mother’s feet before she delivers her testament to her daughter – and then, as Joan mounts the scaffold, the shot of a dog (followed by fluttering doves) looking on in 'stupefaction’ at man’s potential inhumanity to man – a theme of 'nature’ vs humanity the film-maker would explore further in Au Hasard Balthazar.
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on 12 March 2012
I've seen quite a few films about Joan of Arc. Some I enjoyed, some were too far into the realm of Hollywood. This film was one of the most powerful I've ever seen. Using just the transcript of the actual trial, it conveys emotion and drama whilst being 100% realistic. I felt like I was witnessing the trial as it was. Often I get bored with films, but this drew me in and had me engrossed.

If you're looking for a classic hollywood action, with a brave girl charging into battle, forget this film. But, if you have the interest and patience to become absorbed in this film, you won't regret it. In my opinion Robert Bresson's best film.
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on 13 April 2017
Noble effort.
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on 21 August 2006
This is the real gritty version of the wonderful life of Joan Of Arc. The film is based around her trial and even uses the exact responses she gave during her trial. It is a film designed to put you in the shoes of Joan Of Arc and it does this very well indeed.

This film is superb and is a wonderful tribute to the final chapter of the life of Joan Of Arc. I too like the ingrid berman version too, but this version is real, raw, uncomplicated and tragic.

I have no doubt in saying that this film will both amaze and move you.

I asked myself how a 19 year old uneducated peasant found the grace, fortitude, wisdom and faith to endure such an ordeal.

This is a gem of a film. Enjoy
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on 8 February 2014
This 1962 film by Robert Bresson is an absolute classic especially if you watch it in the original French. The added extras are also very good - particularly the speech by Andre Malraux. At the end of the day its a film and Florence Carrez, who plays Joan, is a very good actress who is doing her best to portray Joan's last days.After watching this DVD I was starting to dream a little? Eight hundred years later we can never know what the real Joan was like, we can not turn back the clock and feel what it was like to be Joan in 1431, and even if we could what would we really say to her anyway ? Yet I felt a little closer to.....knowing Joan.....a little closer to....knowing Joan.....
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