Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Proces De Jeanne d'Arc
France 1962
Directed by
Robert Bresson
61 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Trial Of Joan Of Arc

Although Robert Bresson is regarded as one of cinema’s masters. I’ve never been convinced, believing instead that he expressed a certain self-regarding quality that characterizes “high” art and that this entrenched him in the bosom of his self-styled peers.  Or perhaps one should say that, like any stylist he has his devotees and leave it there.  In this, his fifth film he worked entirely with non-professional actors, a practice he was to follow for the rest of his career. This, however, is less from a desire for realism than a wish to eliminate challenges to realizing his abstracted, hieratic vision.

Jeanne D' Arc (Florence Carrez) was a 19-year-old peasant girl from Domrémy, who maintained that she had visions from God that told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War between France and England and who was eventually tried for heresy in 1431 by a French court of English stooges and burnt at the stake.  

No doubt the subject matter resonated with the French, many of whom would still have had vivid memories of the Vichy Government under the Nazis, whilst of course, Jeanne is probably the best-loved of all French saints. So Bresson was already well on the way to approval and indeed, the film won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival of 1962.

Based on the actual minutes of the trial and eyewitness accounts of  Jeanne’s execution Bresson confines himself to literally translating these texts into visual form. As a result the film conveys well the cruel injustices of times, but whether one can swallow Bresson’s pictorial representation of Jeanne as the voiceless subject of these texts will depend on one's fondness for his reductive stylizations. 




Want something different?

random vintage best worst