Anyone acquainted with the writings of the conservative Catholic mystic Paul Claudel will be best placed to fathom what his oratorio, scored by Honegger, is all about. The composer's references to medieval religious music and French folk song might possibly be apt, but this is still a tedious affair. The least of all the Joan of Arc pictures, it is perhaps best understood as a gift (of sorts) from a director to his wife/leading lady: prestigious, 'important' and finally rather private. Rossellini had already staged the oratorio in Milan and elsewhere, but evidently rethought it for the screen, at least to the extent of using glass shots and superimpositions; the colour is soft and soothing.
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