Sunday, February 19, 2006

Speaking of Saints

I just watched the most amazing film: The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Dreyer. It's bitter cold tonight, single digits, and we heat only with wood. The house has been cold all day. Allen went to bed just after midnight. At around one a.m., I wrapped myself in a blanket and had a cup of homemade cherry wine in my hand. I clicked "play," not really expecting to be transported by the experience. I just had a mild curiosity, that's all. I haven't been feeling well the last few days, and I thought it'd be a good way to spend some time. My eyes were tired from reading and I felt plain tired all over.

I'd bought the film several weeks ago and was saving it for just the right time. I knew almost nothing about it, but on the strength of the reviews and my interest in mythology and saints, I took a chance.

If I could have only one word to describe it, I would use: "Arresting." The film was made in 1928. It's a silent film. My version has music from "Voices of Light." The music draws from the writing of women mystics, including Joan herself.

The film shows a true female hero who passes through her ordeal in such a human way, showing her terror, her faith, her temptation, and her final act of defiant love. The camera work is expressive, and the imagery potent. Masterful! I am in complete awe as I write this entry right now.

I know this is a film I will watch again and again. Please, if you've never seen it, buy it, rent it, borrow it, or steal it. Get the DVD version, from the Criterion Collection.

If you're a poet, story-teller, or novelist, you will be deeply inspired by this film. The experience of watching it is like being witness to a grand myth unfolding before your eyes. (Not myth as in lie, but myth as in a timeless heroic story).


Vicky said...

I shall look for it. Those old films that relied only on the visual, supported by music, can be so much more expressive than today's that are so filled with words that we cannot create our own language to absorb them.

This is a wonderful recommendation, Theresa.

ggw07 said...

Yes- Dreyer's "Passion of Joan of Arc" is a masterpiece. If you liked this, try "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" (1927) Directed by
F.W. Murnau.

ggw07 said...

You might also want to check out Dreyer's "Vredens dag" or "Day of Wrath" (1943).


ckays1967 said...

Dear Bank Officer:

I am here to apply for a loan. I need it to further my education about these mysteries of life that some lady keeps pointing out to me.

Without this loan I shall be forced to begin selling my husband's services on the streets, which would be a pity. Not to mention illegal in my state.

Thank you for your consideration in these weighty matters.

Christina K. Brown
Poet and sometime Accountant

PS: I spent $98 at Barnes and Noble today after church...I went and worshiped at both my favorite houses today...

Ironically enough I spent almost the same amount of money at both places.

Judith HeartSong said...

I saw a modern version of the story in film years ago... cannot remember which version, that was so powerful.

TJ said...

So hard to even imagine living in a time when heresy was officially a punishable offense. How scared they must have been to burn 19 year old girl at the stake not once but three times for her beliefs. I will look for this, I hold a special place of Joan of Arc in my heart.

Erin said...

I'll have to check this out. Thanks for the recommendation!

emmapeelDallas said...


Thanks for writing about this film. I'm going to look for it, and I look forward to watching it.


ckays1967 said...

Did you know I can't find any Agees at B & N????

That's not right.

Not right, I tell ya.

Theresa Williams said...

Christina, it is getting harder and harder to find good fiction in bookstores because they are mostly chain bookstores. B & N has started putting out books under their own name label, so they stock their store with plenty of those. Then they stock the bestsellers and the vintage favorites, along with the gift books. But they don't stock a lot of the literary fiction. That's why I get most of my books from Amazon now, after reading about them in magazines like the New Yorker, Poets & Writers, etc. The market is saturated with the blockbuster mentality. The quiet books of literary merit are out there, but you have to work a little harder to find them. It's a shame, but that's the kind of world we live in. You're right: no Agee at B & N is NOT RIGHT! Death in the Family won the Pulitzer Prize!

emmapeelDallas said...

You are so right, Theresa. Lots of best sellers, but less and less literary fiction. There's no James Salter at B&N either, and he's an amazing writer.


Theresa Williams said...

James Salter IS an amazing writer, Judi, I agree. Yet so few people even know he exists. It's maddening for me, to see so many authors languishing in the shadows, knowing people would be elevated by reading their work.

ckays1967 said...

I did buy a great book Called Poetry for the Spirit at B&N for $12.98....

600 poems by 250 poets from Homer to Whitman.

Oh it is awesome and divine, saintly. For me the reading of poetry is like worshipping, it carries my soul upward and connects me to places that others have tarried.

dreaminglily said...

I've never seen that one but now I'll have to find it.

I did see "Joan of Arc" that was made a few years back... I got about thirty minutes into the movie and couldn't take it anymore. It was too much for me to handle.

Oddly enough after that I went the day after "The Passion" opened in theaters. I even own that one. Still haven't gotten it in me to watch again but I know I will sometime.


V said...

Theresa, I`ll be back; this is my 2nd visit. You know I`ve been busy!

Guess what? I stopped at my son`s today. Petted the dog, then looked at the list of "on demand" movies on comcast.

"The Fisher King"!!! It was wonderful! Thanks for mentioning it. The most moving movie I`ve seen in years.


ckays1967 said...

It's time then for new ideas...

Judith HeartSong said...

just checking on you Dear Lady.

ggw07 said...

Found the amazing film, "The Fisher King" have you? The director,Terry Gilliam, is brilliant- yet still struggling- Try: "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "The Brothers Grimm," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,"
"Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail," "Twelve Monkeys" and the upcoming "Tideland."

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