movie: la passion de jeanne d'arc


Maria Falconetti in La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, 1928

In La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Carl Dreyer directed one of the great performances of the cinema and in the process created one of its greatest icons. Maria (Renée) Falconetti is remarkable. On stage from the age of eighteen, she starred in her only film, at the age of thirty-five, playing a nineteen year old virgin. The strength of Falconetti’s performance is such that her name is listed in most standard encyclopedias of the cinema and her performance has inspired artists as diverse as Patti Smith (“You got Balls” ) and Jean-Luc Godard (from Vivre sa vie [1962] through to Histoire(s) du Cinéma [1988-97]). 

None of the actors wears any makeup, which was unheard of in the silent era. Dreyer thought this lent strength to the characters’ faces.