Movie 16min

Joan of Arc (1909)

Original title: La Vie de Jeanne d'Arc

Director Albert Capellani
Country France
Language French
(Original) La Vie de Jeanne d'Arc
(Alternative) Jeanne d'Arc
(Film d'Art) Pathé Frères
15. Century Angels Based on True Story Biography Black and White Burned on a Stake Catholic Church Communion Drama Historical Drama History Martyrdom Middle Ages Prayer Prison Religious Conviction Saint Short Silent Film St. Joan of Arc Vision War Women

Jeanne, the little Lorraine shepherd, prays every day for the salvation of France. Her faith, mystical thoughts, and enthusiasm to prepare the virgin for the supernatural visions that order her to come to the aid of her king and restore his kingdom to him. On March 6, 1429, Joan of Arc arrived in Chinon, went straight to the king who, to confuse her, mixed himself among the lords of his court only to be found. Soon Joan carrying a standard on which is painted the figure of Christ walks with 12,000 men to the aid of Orleans. The Maid crosses the English army, enters Orleans and forces the enemy to raise the siege, then captures Talbot, the English general. The King was consecrated on July 17, 1429, in Reims. After the coronation, Jeanne march on Paris. She was injured in the attack on the ramparts. The King lifts the siege. Shortly after, having rescued the besieged Compiègne, she was taken prisoner by the Burgundians and sold by them to the English. She is taken to Rouen in chains in a harsh prison and subjected to a long and infamous trial. She was burned alive in the old market square on May 30, 1431. Her remains were thrown into the Seine by order of Winchester.

Albert Capellani's film of Joan of Arc was of a very different nature than the version of Méliès. It came out at the end of May 1909, the anniversary of her death at the stake, to mark the very recent beatification of Joan by Pope Pius. X at St. Peter's Church in Rome on April 18.

The filmmakers emphasized the military prowess of Joan (the siege of Orleans filmed at Fort de Vincennes). To appease the Vatican, guardian angels appear superimposed in her cell in Rouen, where an interrogation takes place. There is no trial in this film! The actress Léontine Massart made her debut in this film, but it was not her breakthrough film.

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Léontine Massart - Jeanne d'Arc
Albert Capellani - Director
Michel Carré - Writer
A good version up to that date

There are a lot of similarities between all the "Joan of Arc" movies from the early silent era, and they all held a pretty good quality for the time being, including this one even if, for 1909, one could hope for more. Here Joan is tending her sheep outside when she kneels to pray and the angels appear. The scenes are long, but they are effective in showing the important parts of the story, all culminating in her being burned at the stake. Joan being in prison is the bulk of the surviving story that I've seen, but the whole was probably more diverse. The evolvement in cinema can almost be seen best in the fire effects when Joan burned at the stake, as we have multiple reference points of that scene. Even if the typical city backdrop is used here, the fire seems and is real - but it all ends before Joan is devoured by them.