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4 November 2015: The Trial of Joan of Arc

The Trial of Joan of Arc
Robert Bresson
1962 | 61 min | B/W | Digital

"Bresson’s shortest feature film is exactly what its title says: it presents the trial and execution of Joan of Arc. The settings here are as limited as in A Man Escaped, confined as they are to the barn in which Joan is held and tried and the stake outside where she is executed. This is the first of Bresson’s two period pieces, and it exhibits his anti-spectacular approach to the past. The focus on the end of Joan’s life echoes that of Dreyer, but Bresson eschews the baroque camera angles and décor of that film, as well as the virtuosic acting on display in the silent film. If his career is seen as a process of winnowing to the essential, perhaps The Trial of Joan of Arc goes the furthest: no narration, no music, only one set, and a brief running time. While Falconetti suffers exquisitely for Dreyer’s camera, Bresson’s Joan remains resolutely stoic, neither heroic nor tragic." – Harvard Film Archive

Part of our Robert Bresson season