The Passion Of Joan Of Arc: Filmmaking Decades Ahead Of Its Time

Damian Sherman
2 min readAug 26, 2022
Maria Falconetti as Joan Of Arc

From a purely filmmaking point of view, The Passion Of Joan Of Arc was years, maybe decades, ahead of its time. Movie directors of its time, Chaplins comedies and Germany’s horror and science fiction, kept their camera far away from the actors and sets. Those actors and sets would then move from one edge of the frame to the other, using every inch, with the camera almost always being locked down. If a change of perspective was needed, they would hard cut to that perspective.

Not here. Director Carl Theodor Dreyer, and his cinematographer Rudolph Maté, are almost always placing the camera inches away from their subject. Meaning that the film lives or dies on the performance of its actors to subtly and minutely convey complex emotions. The entire cast is more than up to the task, but Maria Falconetti (Joan) delivers what is commonly referred to, and understandably so, as one of the first truly masterful performances committed to film.

Falconetti’s raw, naturalistic emotion is palpable in every frame she inhabits, even when she’s not the main focus. It’s a harrowing, desperate, intense performance from the first frame to the very end. This, again, was decades ahead of its time, with intimate, passionate, and explosive performances not being a common sight in films until the early 1960's.

A must see for anyone who appreciates nuanced, authentic, and transformative performances.

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Damian Sherman

I watch too many things. And I write about them. Inquires here bisickle@gmail.com | My podcast The Midnight Film Society on Spotify https://spoti.fi/3vo0C7t