This two-part version of the great story has the space to take matters beyond the theological debate, and the agnostic, ascetic sensibility and to explore the socio-political currents which shaped an enduring popular legend. Jacques Rivette's sedulous, distanced approach is a matter of cumulative impact. The period reconstruction is undemonstrative, the screenplay (by Christine Laurent and Pascal Bonitzer) allows events to gain weight over time, and judicious bursts of Jordi Savall's soundtrack convey moments of release. All this demands a film-maker of immense confidence, but it might be arid were it not for the physical presence and spiritual ambiguity of Bonnaire's performance. Unlike Dreyer's Falconetti, she's no fiery angel, but a strong, courageous, essentially human individual. Rivette refuses to underline the truth or otherwise of her holy visions; instead, he's more interested in showing the power of an idea in moulding events, and the disposability of that idea when its usefulness in Realpolitik is at an end. He's with his heroine in showing the shock created by her explosion of gender demarcation, and in detailing the institutionalised repression of thought by a monolithic church. All this may sound the dourest of history lessons, but Rivette's mastery of the long form makes for a compelling experience; involving, thought-provoking and, as Jeanne mounts the stake, profoundly moving.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Christine Laurent, Pascal Bonitzer|
Patrick Le Mauff