I’ve been on a Saul Bass kick for a while, falling love with his incredible opening sequences and stunning posters. One of the posters I liked the best was one from an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan by Otto Preminger. Based of this I thought that films about Joan of Arc would be a good theme for the week.

Wednesday Double Feature - Joan of Arc - Saint JoanSo anyway, as I said, Saint Joan is an adaptation of the Shaw play of the same name, from a screenplay by Graham Greene. I’d read the play years ago. I don’t remember much of it beyond the anachronistic behavior of the characters and the play ending with the dead Joan appearing to King Charles VII in his bedroom.

In this version the film begins at this point with flashbacks to the beginning of Joan’s career and then moving forward to her trial and execution.

This was pretty good, taking full advantage of Shaw’s witty dialogue and Premiger creating an interesting theatrical quality throughout the film. Any problems I have with it mostly come from Shaw. I’m not completely sure what Shaw was going for here. Many of his plays try to make a satirical point. Here I’m mostly certain he was doing the material straight. Of course from my perspective I’d need a degree on the subject to recognize any of Shaw’s dog whistles.

Wednesday Double Feature - Joan of Arc - Th Passion of Joan of ArcThe next film on my list was  Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. This is a pretty straight adaptation of a transcript of Joan’s trial as the judges try to trick her into saying things that will discredit her claims. The film is   a study of one’s woman’s faith and personal strength and the inevitable tragedy when all of this fails.

This really isn’t really a film for every one. It has an extremely expressionistic style and consists almost entirely of closeups. I mostly enjoyed it as a study of some wonderful faces and expressions.