Special Easter Show

3/28/1964 - 3/29/1964

Location: Cinema Theatre
1122 N. Western Ave. Los Angeles


The Passion of Joan of Arc. This is, for us, the greatest film ever made. The script is based on the trial records; Carl Dreyer has taken this testimony and made it appear to be spoken for the first time. As five grueling interrogations follow one another, Dreyer turns the camera on the faces of Joan and her persecutors, and in giant close-ups, he reveals his interpretation of their emotions. In this enlargement, Joan and the inquisitors are shockingly fleshy- isolated with their sweat, warts, spittle, tears, and (as no one in the film used make=up) with contours, features and skins that are individual. To prepare for the part, Falconetti (she was 50 and a well known stage comedienne) spent a year in a convent. There is no question that Dreyer subjected her to absolutely pitiless rehearsals, and no actress has ever labored under a scrutiny so intense: for most of the film, the camera hung like a giant eye only a few feet from her face. Dreyer used white backgrounds- nothing distracts the viewer from the physiognomy of the actress. The merest incomprehension of her role, the slightest false note, would have been amplified a hundred-fold. And Falconetti's extraordinary acting was done for a medium that requires innumerable interruptions for camera set-ups, and caused one great stage actor to exclaim in despair that film acting was like practicing coitus interruptus- whenever you got really excited, you had to stop... After completing THE PASSION, Falconetti returned to the stage and never made another film. People seeing it for the first time may feel, as we did, anger and a sense of claustrophobia: what right had any director to subject an audience to such an ordeal?! With subsequent viewings this sense of outrage fades- for the film does not. The more often one sees it, the more expressive the actors' mute gestures become; one learns to interpret them, as one learns a new language - by entering more fully into its context. And yet, as with only the highest works of art, the more deeply you penetrate into THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, the clearer it becomes that the work is inexhaustible. The supporting roles are also beyond the ravages of time: Sylvain is a chilling Cauchon; as Massieu, young Antonin Artaud is the image of passionate idealism. 1928The Fight Game, by Bill Powers. Boxers in training; machines in operation. A comparison of motions, movements, and more. 'One of the best films on boxing ever made.' (Jonas Mekas)[Source: Movies 'Round Midnight Program Notes, 1964]