This is IMO the best film ever made. I don't know how often I have seen it but every time I watch it I go into a trance. I just got the film on Blu Ray and wanted to check the quality. Well, I got sucked into the film and could not stop. Before I knew it I had watched the whole thing and while I'm writing this it is running again on the screen in front of me.
The face of Maria Falconetti is burned into my soul. She probably never knew that she was acting in (one of) the best film of all time and that she would never ever be forgotten for just this single film role. This might just be the best acting in a film ever. The same actually goes for most of the actors. They are all so authentic.
One of the things I love about this film is the symbolism. Here we have one of Dreyers favorite motives, the wheel, symbolizing time, eternity and life. We see it also quite often used in Vampyr (one of Dreyers best film). And there is more symbolism here, like the lamb (as the lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb or Jesus), the child sucking a mothers breast (God's greace) and so on.
Dreyer always wanted to make a film about Jesus but never got around to do it, even though he had the finance to write the script. To me The Passion of Joan of Arc is a Jesus film. Joan of Arc is one of the best Christ figures in cinema history. There are scenes in this film that are lifted straight from the New Testament, like the scene when the guards mob her, put a crown on her head and call her the daughter of God. And then there is the sacrifice and the victory in death, when the onlookers rise up and protest, believing her to be a saint.
One can also read this film from a feminist or even gay perspective since what seams to threatens the church most is the fact that she wears mans clothes. Cross dressing and a woman doing a mans job and holding a mans position was dangerous in the eye of the church.
There are so many great scenes here. One is a scene where one of the onlookers has modern classes. Dreyer wanted it that way to make Joan a part of all times, her story connected to ours. It is a beautiful touch. I also love the expressionistic building and those beautiful and often scary close ups. But if I had to pick one scene then it would the the torture chamber scene. The editing is just perfect.
I watched the Blu Ray version from The Masters of Cinema series. The image is unbelievably clear. It was a little strange to see the film with Danish inter-titles since I'm so used to watching the Criterion version with French inter-titles. What surprised me the most however was the music. I thought I would not be able to watch this film without the Voices of Light soundtrack (I often play the film just to listen to that heavenly and pitch perfect score). Well, not only could I watch the film with a piano score performed by Japanese silent film composer Mie Yanashita, I actually loved it!
You can also watch the film in 24fps playback speeds with a radical accompaniment by esteemed American avant-garde musician Loren Connors. Well the speed put me off (silent films should only be played in 18 to 20fps) and I found the music rather repetitive and not in harmony with the subject matter. It did not drag me into the film, it dragged me out of it.
If you have not seen this film, which is by most critics considered one of 10 best films ever made then do your self a favor and do so now! You will not regret it and what's more, you just might gain a life companion.