Daily Archives: February 14, 1997

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Though I haven’t heard Richard Einhorn’s new oratorio Voices of Light — which was a brisk seller on Billboard‘s classical charts early last year, written to accompany Carl Dreyer’s last silent film — I have seen the original version of Dreyer’s masterpiece, rediscovered in a Norwegian mental asylum during the 80s after having been lost for half a century. (The other prints were lost in a warehouse fire, and the two circulating versions since then have both consisted of outtakes.) Considering that this film’s beautiful original score resembled an oratorio at certain moments, I suspect that this rare opportunity to see the greatest of all Joan of Arc films in optimum conditions shouldn’t be passed up. (Anonymous 4 performs Joan’s voice in both alto and soprano, and Lucinda Carver conducts the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra and the Zephyr Chorus.) Joan is played by Comedie-Francaise member Renee Falconetti, and though hers is one of the key performances in the history of movies, she never made another film. (Antonin Artaud also appears in a memorable cameo.) Dreyer’s radical approach to constructing space and the slow intensity of his mobile style make this a difficult film in the sense that, like all the greatest films, it reinvents the world from the ground up; it’s also painful in a way that all of Dreyer’s tragedies are.… Read more »