The Passion of Joan of Arc

I finally saw this a few nights ago. One of the most extraordinary films I have ever seen. Pauline Kael said Falconetti's performance "might have been the finest performance ever recorded on screen" while Roger Ebert said "You cannot know the history of silent film unless you know the face of Renee Maria Falconetti."

I think they are both right but I am just a guy in the audience!

"The original version was lost for decades after a fire destroyed the master negative and only variations of Dreyer's second version were available. In a1981, an employee of the Dikemark Hospital mental institution in Oslo found several film canisters in a janitor's closet that were labeled as being The Passion of Joan of Arc. The canisters were sent to the Norwegian Film Institute where they were first stored for three years until finally being examined. It was then discovered that they were Dreyer's original cut prior to government or church censorship. There were never any records of the film being shipped to Oslo, but film historians believe that the then director of the institution may have requested a special copy since he was also a published historian."

Poor Falconetti actually was mentally ill. She died by her own hand, after having been institutionalized on a number of occasions.


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