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1-World Festival of Foreign Films
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We would like to tell you a story.  It is a tale full of drama and intrigue, fire and madness, and the odd twists-of-fate usually confined to prose fiction.  This, though, is a true story... a story with a happy ending....

Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer journeyed to France in the late 1920's to film his interpretation of the last days of Saint Joan of Arc.  The film, in honor of her recent canonization, was a big budget production in which Dreyer was given free artistic reign.  He rejected the original script in favor of the actual transcripts to Saint Joan's trial, he built extravagantly realized sets and shot all of his actors without make-up to lend a purity and realism to his film which, to this day, has never been equaled. 

He also cast for his lead a little known actress (Renče passionjoanph1.jpg (3039 bytes)Falconetti - who had never worked in film before) as the martyr.  His methods of extracting her performance are legendary:  Dreyer forced her to kneel on stones to convey pain; he had her repeat the same action again and again to find the soul of the woman she was portraying; he forced her to shave her head for the final sequence.  For Falconetti it was all too much - she never worked in movies again.

The film opened to universal acclaim.  Falconetti's portrayal of the doomed Joan was hailed as the greatest performance ever recorded on celluloid - an assertion which still holds true to this day.  All seemed well until disaster struck shortly after its 1928 premiere.   The original negative and almost all known prints were destroyed in a warehouse fire.  Dreyer scrambled to reconstruct another version from the outtake footage which had survived the conflagration.  Again, all seemed well until disaster struck once more when this second version was also destroyed by fire.  Dreyer gave up and went to work on his next project while this film was thought to be lost forever.

For years, only corrupted prints of Dreyer's masterpiece (culled from the remaining fragments of the other two versions), were in circulation.  He disowned all of these bootleg prints and went to his grave in 1968 thinking that this work, not just one of the greatest films ever made, but one of the greatest works of art to have ever existed in any medium, would never be seen again in its original form.

But as we have promised you a happy ending, our story will not end here.  Miraculously, in 1981 while cleaning out the contents of a janitor's closet an a mental institution in Oslo, Norway... a complete print of the first cut of Dreyer's masterpiece was found in near perfect condition.  Home Vision Cinema and The Criterion Collection are proud to present the home video premiere of the original version of Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc.

We are honored to have for this special edition of The Passion of Joan of Arc - Richard Einhorn's brilliant orchestral piece Voices of Light.  The film has been touring the country to sell-out crowds with Mr. Einhorn's oratorio as live accompaniment.  Now you can experience the combined majesty and power of these two great works, one visual and one aural, on both VHS and DVD.

Thanks to Home Vision, distributors of "The Passion of Joan of Arc" for the above information.

 

 


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