Movie 11min

Joan of Arc (1900)

Original title: Jeanne d'Arc

+ 23 images
Director Georges Méliès
Country France
Language French
(Original) Jeanne d'Arc
(Alternative) The Life and Martyrdom of Joan of Arc
15. Century Angels Based on True Story Biography Bishop Black and White Burned on a Stake Catholic Church Drama Hagiography Historical Drama Martyrdom Middle Ages Religious Conviction Roman Catholic Saint Short Silent Film St. Joan of Arc Vision War

Méliès 1900 version of the Joan of Arc story that was rediscovered in 1982 to when it was thought to be lost. What we have is a hand colored print with the first scene missing. The film was Méliès's second big cinematic success, after Cinderella. In this film, Joan enters heaven in the end as a saint suggesting her suitability for sainthood, although she was not beatified until 1909 and finally canonized in 1920. The film strongly emphasizes Joan's status as a national hero of France and a martyr for the French people. The Edison distribution of this move was a duped version, and it was also distributed by Siegmund Lubin and American Mutoscope & Biograph.

In the village of Domrémy, the young Joan is visited by Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, who exhort her to fight for her country. Her father Jacques d'Arc, mother Isabelle Romée, and uncle beg her to stay at home, but she leaves them and travels to Vaucouleurs, where she meets with the governor, Captain Robert de Baudricourt. The dissipated Baudricourt initially scorns Joan's ideals, but her zeal eventually wins him over, and he gives her authority to lead French soldiers. Joan and her army lead a triumphal procession into Orléans, followed by a large crowd. Then, in Reims Cathedral, Charles VII is crowned King of France.

At the Siege of Compiègne, Joan is taken prisoner while her army attempts to storm the castle. In prison, Joan has another dream in which she sees her visions again. Taken to the interrogation, Joan refuses to sign a retraction, and is condemned as a heretic. In the Rouen marketplace, Joan is burned at the stake. The wood carrier at the execution, bringing in fuel for the burning, dies on the spot from the fumes. In a final apotheosis scene, Joan rises to heaven, where she is greeted by God and the saints.

Source: Wikipedia, 2020.10.05

At the age of thirteen, while tending sheep, Joan of Arc is visited by Saints Catherine and Margaret, and then by Saint Michael, who orders her to free France from the English yoke and to lead the Dauphin to the French throne. She returns home in a trance-like state, but won’t cross the threshold. Her uncle tries to persuade her to stay in her native village, but she refuses and runs off. She reaches the fortified city of Vaucouleurs, and persuades the guard to admit her. She finds the garrison commander, Robert de Baudricourt, enjoying a wild party with his friends. Joan tries to convince him of her plan, and though he initially rubbishes the idea (and has to be restrained from throwing her out), but Joan persuades him to give her his sword and entrust his army to her. Orléans is freed from the English oppressor, and Joan leads a huge army through the town. On 17 July 1429, in the cathedral of Rheims, King Charles VII is blessed by Archbishop Regnault. Joan and her army try to break in to the castle of Compiègne. After a pitched battle, Joan is captured by the English. Her followers try to scale the castle, but to no avail. Joan awakes in a cell, where she has another visitation from Saint Michael, this time flanked by Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine. The jailer orders her to accompany him. On 15 March 1431, Joan is put on trial, with the indictment read by Bishop Pierre Cauchon. He orders her to sign a retraction of her claim to have heard voices. She refuses and throws the quill on the floor. In the market square at Rouen, a pyre is constructed, with a sign reading ‘Relapsed Heretic’. Flanked by Cauchon and his allies, Joan is tied to the post and burned. A soldier adds fuel to the fire, and falls to the ground, overwhelmed both by the smoke and by the magnitude of what he has contributed to. But Joan has ascended to heaven.

Source: Star Film Catalogue

12 Tableaux
"A grand spectacular production in twelve scenes as follows:" (Edison catalog)
The Village of Domremy, Birthplace of Joan of Arc
"The Birthplace of Joan of Arc" (Edison catalog). This scene is missing from the film that survived.
The Forest of Domremy
"Scene in the Forest" (Edison catalog)
Joan of Arc's House at Domremy
"Joan of Arc's House" (Edison catalog)
Port of Vancouleurs
Castle of Bandricourt
Triumphal entry into Orleans
Coronation of Charles VII at Rheins
"Coronation of Charles VII" (Edison catalog)
Battle of Compiegne
Joan in Prison
"Joan of Arc in Prison" (Edison catalog)
The Interrogation in Torture Chambre
"The Interrogation" (Edison catalog)
Joan at the Stake - Market lace at Rouan
"The burning at the Stake" (Edison catalog)
"Tableau showing Joan of Arc mounting into space to take up her abode in heaven" (Edison catalog)
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Slow moving 11 minutes

Somehow Méliès made the story about Jeanne d'Arc a slow one to watch, even in the short timeframe. Maybe it was a film with lots of action for the day, but I found the scenes like the Orleans parade a bore although it was advertised as a big deal with over 500 persons in one scene(of course, the same actors was used over and over). There is also a very long battle scene that was more hilariously humorous than action-packed. A few moments do make a difference and that are extraordinary for the time. The first scene for instance, of Jeanne in the fields and an Angel appears is very beautiful. The burning at the stake was also quite exhilarating and memorable. In any way, there were a few previously made films about Joan of Arc, and of them, this is the most complete and show the life of Joan in twelve full scenes, focused on key moments of course. Definitely enjoyable.