Icarus Films will be teaming up with The Kimstim Collection on Oct. 2 for the domestic DVD and Blu-ray launch of French filmmaker Bruno Dumont’s visually expressive adaptation of Charles Péguy’s early 20th Century stage presentations, Jeannette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc.
History records that during the Hundred Years’ War a young girl by the name of Joan of Arc reported spiritual visions that France would be freed from English rule and a new king would rise to accomplish exactly that. Her visions brought her to the court of the future king (Charles VII), she lifted the siege of Orléans, turned the tide of the war, was captured, tried and burnt at the stake at just 19 years of age.
A symbol of France and the subject of many films, including the 1928 silent masterpiece from director Carl Theodor Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc and Victor Fleming’s 1948 film release of Joan of Arc starring Ingrid Bergman (nominated for Best Actress), Dumont, however, takes the story in a somewhat different direction.
Instead of the vision of a horse-mounted young woman in armor leading the French to victories — the symbolic “Joan of Arc” — Dumont instead focuses on the childhood of the future saint and uses two different actresses to portray her visions — Lise Leplat Prudhomme (at age eight) and Jeanne Voisin (as a teenager). Of note, both are excellent … and both are new to film.
If Péguy, who died while fighting for France in World War I while at height of his creative period, could seamlessly combine religion and politics in his plays, poetry and essays, Dumont — with his film presentation here — has taken it to the next level with the introduction of music and dance.
Not just any music, but guitar riffs and interludes that are of this time, not the 15th Century — some might call it heavy metal — and the dance sequences often border on the surreal. Dancing and singing nuns (all choreographed by none other than Philippe Découﬂé) as part of Jeannette’s religious awakening take filmmaker Bruno Dumont’s on-screen vision to unexpected places.
Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc is presented in French with English subtitles.