Renée Jeanne Falconetti

Renée Jeanne Falconetti in La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928).

Here is a still from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc.

Renée Jeanne Falconetti (July 21, 1892 – December 12, 1946) was 35 years old when she played the role of 19-year-old Joan of Arc in La Passion.  Her portrayal is widely considered one of the most astonishing performances ever committed to film, and it would remain her final cinematic role.

The original version of the film was lost for decades after a fire destroyed the master negative and only variations of Dreyer’s second version were available.  In 1981 an employee of the Kikemark Sykehus mental institution in Oslo found several film canisters in a janitor’s closet that were labeled as being The Passion of Joan of Arc.  The canisters were sent to the Norwegian Film Institute where they were first stored for three years until finally being examined.  It was then discovered that the prints were of Dreyer’s original cut of the film before government or church censorship had taken place.  There were never any records of the film being shipped to Oslo, but film historians believe that the then director of the institution may have requested a special copy since he was also a published historian.

In 1994, composer Richard Einhorn wrote an oratorio based on the film, entitled “Voices of Light.”  The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Mediæval female mystics.  I highly recommend it.

Published by Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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