Cecil B. DeMille spent the first two-and-a-half years of his directing career overseeing westerns, romances, comedies, crime dramas and a couple of flicks set in Montenegro but Joan of Arc was the subject of his first true epic.
The delightfully eccentric script from Jeanie Macpherson sets the tone for this quirky picture and Geraldine Farrar nails the title role with her signature down-to-earth charm. Not as famous as Carl Dreyer’s take on Joan but well worth seeking out.
How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.
Um, well, this is Joan of Arc so the burning at the stake is kind of mandatory but getting there is all the fun.
If it were a dessert it would be: French Toast Cupcakes. Because I am sick and need help.
Read my full-length review here.
Availability: Out of print in the USA for years, Joan the Woman has been reissued on DVD by Flicker Alley. Yay!
Two of my interests intersect: Saint Joan and films.
Marina Warner http://www.marinawarner.com/home.html addresses “Joan the Woman” in her thorough biography. “Joan of Arc”:
“‘Joan the Woman’ (1916) was De Mille’s reply to the conspicuous extravagance and titanic scale of D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance.” It began with a shot of an Allied soldier in the trenches in France and dissolved into the battlefields of the fifteenth century.De Mille deployed two thousand cowboys as cavalry and soldiers in the ferocious sequence about the battle of Orleans. Much of the fighting takes place with vivid realism in a moat, with waterlogged soldiers in plate armour floundering about and drowning. Geraldine Farrar is far too mature-looking and far too stout to make a convincing Joan of Arc for us now, but the choice shows that the image of Joan as a cropped youth had not yet become universal. De Mille was free to choose an actress who seems to us now out of character simply because she was big box office.”
(Please don’t shoot the piano player)
The most thorough and likely most accurate version I’ve seen, by the way is the rather long two part Jacques Rivette one. Possibly one of his more prosaic film.
Of course, the problem with this is that Griffith released Intolerance in August-September of 1916. For her theory to be true, we must believe that DeMille saw the film, negotiated the huge budget, rushed into production in order to release Joan the Woman on Christmas day 1916. The problem is that “Joan” entered production in June of 1916, two months before the sneak preview of Intolerance.
Considering that the author cannot even be bothered to look up the release and production dates of motion pictures (from two of the biggest names in silent cinema, yet!) I think we can safely discount her opinions on Miss Farrar without a tinge of guilt.
Whoops! Nevertheless “Joan the Woman” has been on my wish list for some time, I will order it soon.
No worries 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!
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