Joan of Arc

Bruno Dumont

IndieLisboa 2020 •

Fiction, 2019, 138′

Joan D’Arc is a symbol of occidental spirituality and of a certain social French psyche. In 2017, Dumont directed Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc, a musical based on a play by Charles Péguy. Jeanne is the sequel that recuperates from the first film the 10-year-old Lise Prudhomme for the role of Joan. We are not in historical realism here, but in the modernisation of a myth from an ever-renewing childhood, from a freed female condition.

Bruno Dumont again adapts the texts by Charles Péguy devoted to the historical figure of Jeanne D’Arc. It is 1429, Jeanne is imprisoned and tried. After a dancing and carefree Jeannette, this second part seems more austere and more theatrical but it proves to be more sensitive and majestic. The expression of the body gives way to the expression of the verb. This film is no longer frankly a comedy, like the filmmakers’ works since the series Le P’tit Quinquin. The filmmaker seems to revive the sobriety of the past, and chooses to report on events (a war, a trial, a church) only using a voice, whether it is a comment (characters are like the radio hosts of the action), an interrogation, or a song. These oratorical jousts become fascinating and succeed in replacing the actionby force of evocation. Each word, interpreted with fragility by non-professional actors, has its singular tone and phrasing. Bringing a completely Brechtian distance, this vocal game does not preserve less the mystery of Jeanne and our fascination. The filmmaker then questions our relationship to spirituality. The profane and the sacred mix, in the image of the singer Christophe, an improbable guest of Dumont’s cinema. (Mickael Gaspar)