Sunday, January 12, 2014

Joan of Arc (1948) Redux

Joan of Arc: This is the hour. Now is the time. In God's name, strike! Strike boldly!
I have finally been able to see the remastered edition of the 1948 film Joan of Arc starring Ingrid Bergman and Jose Ferrer, with all the deleted scenes restored, so that it is altogether another movie. What a masterpiece! It is two and a half hours long, whereas the abridged version that we are all used to seeing is only one hundred minutes. Joan's father is shown in the new edition, as are her brothers. There is more about the relatives and friends who helped her along the way. The court at Chinon is given extra time, as is the coronation of Charles VII. The political squabbles which shaped Joan's fate are expanded upon as are the matters concerning the Catholic faith. The most glorious scene is when Joan receives her Viaticum. The trial and execution are lengthened as well. It seems they edited out the scenes with heavy spirituality; thus the restored version has much more substance. St. Joan's spiritual life is explored in a way which displays remarkable insight for a film crafted by not particularly religious people. But then, the screenplay is taken directly from the records of Joan's two trials, making for an authentic portrayal, as the real Joan is allowed to speak. Ingrid Bergman was not a believer but as an accomplished actress she was able to project the radiant faith of Joan. In fact, Ingrid had great devotion to the saint and herself helped to finance the film. Directed by Victor Fleming and based upon the play by Maxwell Anderson, the movie captures the season of miracles which was Joan's life. It is a magnificent, life-changing production, very relevant for our time.

The new edition, which we watched on a Netflix DVD, in having more depth also has more darkness. For anyone who has seriously tried to live the spiritual life, or who has been faced with interior trials heaped upon exterior sufferings, this film is a must-see. It is one of the most heart-wrenching depictions of the dark night of the soul, as Joan, through the betrayal of her king and the enmity of her foes, descends into a pit of utter misery and abandonment. Her tormentors are other baptized Roman Catholics. I have felt the heaviness of her torment when watching the other version but much more so in the new edition. It is the kind of experience that helps put one's trials in perspective, sorting out the trite from the significant, as the soul realizes again that what matters most is the will of God.

Joan of Arc: But if I had a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers, I could not go back. I must go forward now.(Much more about Joan's family life is in the remastered version.)
Joan of Arc: You see there is no strength in me, and no strength in my hands. There is no strength in any of our hands great enough to win against the English. Our strength is in our faith. And if our faith is eaten away by little things that God hates, then, though there be a million of us, we should be beaten back and die.

Joan of Arc: I have no hatred for the English. I spoke bold and loud so that you would follow me. I thought victory would be beautiful, but it is an ugly, bloody thing.
La Hire: Why, there never was a more beautiful victory than this!

Joan of Arc: My King, have you taken money from the English?

Joan of Arc: I think I have courage to die, but not to die thus in small sick ways. (This scene at the Cathedral of St. Denis, where Joan leaves her armor at the altar, is restored to its fullness.)
 This dark scene in which one of the guards tries to molest Joan was taken out of the edited version completely.

Joan of Arc: Oh sweet God, you have been with me always. Be with me now, through the darkness.(The execution scene as well as Joan's trial is much longer in the remastered edition.)


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