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Archive for December 31st, 2009

by Allan Fish

(France 1929 125m) not on DVD

Aka. The Marvellous Life of Joan of Arc

A state of grace

p  Marco de Gastyne  d  Marco de Gastyne  w  Jean-José Frappa  ph  Gaston Brun  historical consultant  Camille Vergniol

Simone Gènevois (Jeanne d’Arc), Choura Milena (Isabeau de Paule), Philippe Heriat (Gilles de Rais), Jean Toulout (Le Tremoille), Jean Debucourt (Charles VII), Daniel Mendaille (Lord Talbot), Georges Paulait (Loyseleur), Gaston Modot (Glasdall), Fernand Mailly (Capitaine la Hire), Pierre Douvan (Bishop Cauchon), François Viguier (Brother Pasquerel), Jean Manoir (Jean de Metz), Louis Allibert (Rémy Loiseau),

The first glimpse I had of Marco de Gastyne’s magnum opus was, as for so many, courtesy of Brownlow and Gill’s Cinema Europe, where the onus was on neglecting it in favour of Dreyer’s more famous simultaneously shot Jeanne.  Everyone knows Dreyer’s Jeanne is untouchable, a thing as revered by cineastes as the real Jeanne is to the memory of every Frenchman.  Yet de Gastyne’s film, its star, and even Gastyne himself have been airbrushed from the canvas of late French silent film. 

            It follows the story to the letter, of the teenager from Domrémy called upon by God – or Saints Catherine and Marguerite, depending on your take on it – to lead the French in setting the rightful heir back on the French throne and driving the English devils back across la Manche.  It’s solemn from the very first caption, directly quoting that bastion of French historians, Jules Michelet; “let us always remember that our country was born from the heart of a woman, from her tenderness and tears, and from the blood she spilt for us.” (more…)

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