Joan the Maid: The Battles and The Prisons

Director: Jacques Rivette
Year Released: 1994
Rating: 3.0

Respectful, earnest depiction of the life of Joan of Arc (Sandrine Bonnaire) by master filmmaker Rivette, starting with her initial plea to the Dauphin to take the English to task and ending with her execution. Even though it runs four hours and in two parts, it's never less than captivating: the director tends to prefer letting things unfold in due time, never rushing, but he's historically been mindful of the audience's attention spans while staying faithful to his characters and plots. Joan of Arc's 'mystical visions' are only spoken of and never depicted, and Bonnaire's careful to appear simultaneously confident and aloof, as if lost in a daydream of God's Higher Plan. Dreyer's film about Joan is more about mysticism, spirituality and suffering - this is more history and detail. Only issue: Rivette directing a battle scene is about as fumbling and awkward as, say, Bergman directing a screwball comedy.