The Passion of the Maid of Orléans

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German title The Passion of the Virgin of Orléans (The Passion of Joan of Arc)
Original title La Passion de Joan of Arc
Country of production France
original language French
Publishing year 1928
length 110 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Carl Theodor Dreyer
script Carl Theodor Dreyer, Joseph Delteil
camera Rudolph Maté
cut Carl Theodor Dreyer
Marguerite Beaugé

The Passion of the Maid of Orléans is a historical film from 1928. It deals with the last hours of Joan of Arc , a peasant girl who was executed in 1431. Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer , the title role played Renée Falconetti , which went under the name Maria Falconetti . The film is seen as a milestone in film history. In 2012, it was ranked 9th in the well-known survey of critics by Sight & Sound magazine for the “best film of all time”.


At the beginning the film shows the files of the trial against Johanna as they are handed down in the archives, and with this reference to an allegedly exact reproduction of the events, it claims its own historical authenticity. Then the film starts suddenly with the start of the court hearing.

Johanna claims that her mission came from the Archangel Michael, who appeared to her. The goal is the liberation of France. She refuses to interpret the apparition as a mirage of the devil and to sign a corresponding confession. When she showed the torture tools, she replied that she would later revoke any confessions. Since she faints, she is spared torture.

She is put at the stake for the first time and finally signs the confession (or the judge wipes her hand with her silent approval). So she is pardoned to life imprisonment, which obviously displeases the English captain. Before she was incarcerated, however, she regretted the confession and had the judges called to take it back. Therefore, in the end, Johanna is burned at the stake. English soldiers put down a popular uprising after an old man shouted that a saint would be burned.

During the questioning by the judges at the beginning of the act, one of those present believes Johanna is a saint and throws herself at her feet, whereupon he is removed. Some other clergy sympathize with her and wish for the Great Victory (of France), but it is unclear whether they believe in Joan's divine commission. When Johanna is at the stake for the first time, they encourage her to confess when Johanna herself still wants to remain true to her mission.

Joan is pious and longs for the sacraments; the judges even want to blackmail her with mass and communion so that she may confess. Her suffering is partly modeled on the Passion of Jesus Christ, so she is mocked by rough journeymen and even receives a braided crown.

Sound and music

The film was originally supposed to be shot with sound, but the financial means were lacking. The silent film had, according to the intention of the director, not the original music. Later several pieces of music were written for the film, for example by Ole Schmid (1982), Jo van den Booren (1985), Richard Einhorn (1995, oratorio "Voices of light"), Peter Kiefer (composer) (2000) with a performance in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Luxembourg, Jesper Kyd (2007) and In the Nursery (2008) and during the broadcast of this film as part of a themed evening on ARTE on the subject of Jean d'Arc improvised live to the film on an Erard grand piano by Gottfried Böttger , initiated by NDR. The 2015 Gaumont restoration of the film is accompanied by organ music by Karol Mossakowski (2016).

Reception and later fate of the film

The French version had to be shortened by 15 minutes at the instigation of the church. In contrast, the film was included in the Vatican 's film list in 1995 , which comprises a total of 45 films that are particularly recommended from the perspective of the Holy See. In Great Britain the film was banned because the English soldiers are portrayed very negatively.

The uncensored original version was stored in the Ufa studios in Berlin and burned there in December 1928. Dreyer then created a new version from leftover pieces, which is said to have been quite similar to the original, but this version also fell victim to a fire in 1929. In 1951 a copy of this second version was discovered at Gaumont . In 1981 a Danish version (i.e. with Danish subtitles ) of the first uncensored version of the film was found in a mental hospital near the Norwegian capital Oslo , which was well preserved and could be restored. The first performance of this restored version took place on June 27, 1996 in Mainz (version with German subtitles). The Jeanne d'Arc Suite by the Dutch composer Jo van den Booren was played.


  • Heiner Gassen (Red.): Carl Th. Dreyers Jeanne d'Arc . Institut Français de Munich / CICIM, June 1996, ISBN 3-920727-44-4 . / REVUE CICIM 43/44, ISSN  0938-233X .

Individual evidence

  1. Sight & Sound List at the British Film Institute
  2. Allan Kozinn: MUSIC REVIEW; Composing a Soundtrack as an Equal Partner for Its Film . ( [accessed March 31, 2018]).
  3. CAMPS Sylvain, TRIBOLO Frédéric: Test Blu-ray La passion de Jeanne d'Arc, édition 2017 de la version Cinéma | Retro HD | Remy Pignatiello. Retrieved March 31, 2018 (French).
  4. a b review by Manfred Polak:
  5. ^ Catalog of the German National Library: Carl Th. Dreyers Jeanne d'Arc

Web links