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Author Topic: Dreyer's Joan of Arc  (Read 2017 times)
Nobody
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« on: October 03, 2005, 02:45:43 PM »

Just saw Carl Th. Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time....Wow, I am stunned. I always felt that Leone was the undisputed champion of close-ups. Now I'm not so sure... Also, Dreyer was just as good as Leone with picking interesting faces. If you haven't seen this, check it out soon.  The 1985 score by Richard Einhorn is also fantastic, if anyone knows anything about availability, let me know. For me, Dreyer is the greatest new discovery since I discovered Kim Ki Duk a couple of years ago. I'm borrowing Dreyer's Michael as well. I'll post some thoughts on that as well in a couple of days.

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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2005, 04:07:19 PM »

I remember feeling stunned too after I saw Dreyer's Joan of Arc. I watched it in a film class, and it was one of those times when you could feel its emotional effects in the atmosphere after we'd finished it.

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2005, 05:30:47 PM »

Dreyer was a master. No mistake. His giant close ups of the faces in THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, often against simple white backgrounds are astounding, and show silent cinema at the very pinnacle of its achievments.

He and his cinematographer Rudolph Maté are taking the camera in entierly new places, some of them never again re-visited, even by todays grab bag, post-modern movie makers.

The strategies Dreyer used on the film's star Maria Falconetti were quite extreme, verging on the sadistic. In almost all her close ups (which constitute an enormous portion of the film), she was surrounded by white screens, with just a small hole for the camera, with Dreyer yelling and screaming at her, telling her what to do.

In that "bleeding" sequence, that is Falconetti actually having a knife stuck in her arm, and that is her blood. Its not a special effect, its a real effect. Can you imagine the pampered stars of Hollywood today doing anything remotely like this to achieve the kind of authenticity of spiritual terror and hunger Falconetti expresses in this picture?

So extreme is her commitment here, and since this is her last film, I used to joke that they actually burned her to death at the end.

Dreyer was certainly great at choosing his faces for this production. I remember reading that Fellini employed a man who's sole job was to travel around Italy looking for people with "interesting" faces, to populate his stories, and Eisenstein once said "Faces are cinema's greatest asset."

As for Dreyer's other films, I've only ever seen two. VAMPYR, an early sound horror film is as adacious cinematically as JOAN, with breathtaking shifts of point of view, and spacial perceptions (Rudolph Maté, again.). All the sound was dubbed on afterwards, so the camera knows no limits, roving around in more and more inventive ways, unlike almost all other early sound films, which tend to be utterly static). It is very hard to see a good print of it though. Most of the copys out there are abysmal fragments, and the lead actor (who was the film's main investor) is terrible.

I've also seen GERTRUDE, which, sadly, is painfully boring, static and ernest. Made in 1964, Dreyer is well past the hight of his powers.

On a final note, JOAN is meant to be watched it total silence, without any music. Sadly I've only had that experience once in a cinema. If I go again, I'll take ear plugs!

« Last Edit: October 03, 2005, 05:32:20 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2005, 05:02:47 AM »

As a Dane, I have always wondered about Dreyer. Apparantly France and USA embraced him as a genius a long time before we did ourselves.

I haven't seen his films for a long time, like ten years, and I only seem to remember a few fragments from Day of Wrath and Joanne of Arc. His films are collecting dust in the vaults of the Film Museum in Copenhagen. No one has released his film on DVD in Denmark, but Criterion has - all of them but one, I think - a box can be purchased on cd-wow.com relatively cheap - 39£ I think, free delivery. The films were once avaliable there, at least.

Now I can only find them at:

http://www.criterionco.com/asp/boxed_set.asp?id=124

at pretty mean prices.

All I really know of Dreyer is that Lars Von Trier always mentions him, in the same way as Tarantino always mentions Leone: a main influence.

I read somewhere that his silent films are most "in line" with his style. Anyway in Day of Wrath.. the way they speak sound like it´s a joke, but then again they do that in many old Danish movies.

And they never show them on Danish TV despite all the talking, and they don't release the films on DVD. But if one is a film-buff around these parts, expertise in Carl Th. Dreyer is mandatory.... I guess I don't qualify...

But hyped he is, "the first internationally acclaimed Danish director" and s**t like that... but he is like a name without content because most people, like myself, only have very vague ideas about the films.



http://www.carldreyer.com/

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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2005, 07:30:14 AM »

you guys make a great case for seeing this, I never planned to even though I heard it was great, but it's on the to see list now, although of Joan of arc movies it's definitly second being as how I'm a bit of a Victor Fleming fan(in spite of being a gone with the wind hater) and his joan of arc(at least the extended version dvd) is praised just as much(even if by much less people) as dreyer's

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