Joan of Arc holds a fairly unique position as a historical female. Not only is she still revered after hundreds of years, her reputation has only grown since her death. Although, like many of her sisters, that didn’t prevent her being burned at the stake. The ‘Maid of Orléans’s story has been captured on film many times, most notably by Carl Theodor Dreyer, but never in such an outlandish way as Bruno Dumont did in the all singing and dancing Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. He follows it up with (Jeanne) Joan of Arc, which is a very different prospect.
It’s 1429 and The Hundred Year War, between France and England, draws towards its eventual end. The young Jeanne (Lise Leplat Prudhomme), believing she has been chosen by God, leads the army of Charles VII, the King of France in waiting. After breaking the siege of Orléans, the army advances towards Paris; only to be stood down as a truce is signed. Joan is subsequently captured by supporters of the Duke of Burgundy and placed on trial by a pro-English bishop.
Whatever you think of Joan of Arc, it’s unlikely you’ll have seen a film quite like it. Dumont once again opts for an amateur cast and the dialogue is delivered in a mix of 12 Angry Men and Life of Brian. It’s a peculiar experience which oscillates between the fascinating and the inane. Prudhomme once against shines as the titular martyr and it will pique the interest of historians out there but we’re essentially left with one question – why?
Joan of Arc is released on digital by New Wave Films on 19 June.