La Passion

Door on side of Christ Church in Rochester New York
Door on side of Christ Church in Rochester New York

Christ Church, next to RoCo in downtown Rochester, was packed last night a showing of “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,” a 1927 silent movie that is available on YouTube for free. Marc Hamilton was projecting the Criterion DVD of the movie on the big screen and the faculty of the Eastman School of Music were improvising a soundtrack on the two organs, the Baroque one in the balcony of the rear of the church and the Romantic one off to the left of the alter. They were joined by the Christ Church Schola Cantorum, a sacred music choral ensemble who were also improvising with guidelines provided by the director. This soundtrack was one step beyond pulling out all the stops as is fitting for this masterpiece of a movie.

I’ve seen the movie a few times and am looking forward to seeing it many more. I want to get back to drawing the faces from the movie.

Paul Dodd charcoal drawing entitled "Still From Passion Of St Joan 01" 2012
Paul Dodd charcoal drawing entitled “Still From Passion Of St Joan 01” 2012

Here is my blog post from April 2012, my first experience with this movie:

They really were better actors in the silent days. If you don’t believe me check out 1928 movie “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, “one of the greatest movies of all time” according to the Netflix envelope. The expressions on the actors faces are so over the top I kept wanting to pause the dvd and take a photo. Cindy Sherman could have shaped her whole career with this movie. No movie has ever effected me this way. I couldn’t wait to watch it again in the morning before the sun light steams into the room and wrecks the mood.

Joan is a heroine in France and a saint but in the fifteenth century her claims of divine guidance were met by the church hierarchy with a drawn out trial and death by burning at the stake. This movie portrays the leering old men of the cloth in devastating fashion as they challenge Joan on her manly dress and push for details on her vision of Saint Michael at one point asking “Was he naked?” They wish. And they couldn’t wait to pile into the torture room to exact a toll on nineteen year old Joan.

The poor church did not like the way they were portrayed and the movie was denounced, cut, and burned just like Joan was. So little has changed this movie could have been made today! Perfect fare for a Good Friday evening. I hesitate to mention that the entire movie is available on YouTube because you really should see the higher res Criterion Collection dvd.

1 Comment

One Reply to “La Passion”

  1. i liked mila jovovitch’s Joan of Arc circa 1999, Luc Besson directed (Fifth Element) admittedly I have a crush on Mila, i’d like to ck out the 1929 version but where am i going to get live organ music and a church?

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