Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jason watches THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC with the Voices of Light

I can't believe I've lived here in the Bay Area for over 10 years and I've never before been to the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Well, that's been rectified, and that place is freakin' beautiful! 'Nuf said.

As for the movie, of course THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC is a classic. I can't say much that hasn't been said much more intelligently before. I hadn't known before that it was based on actual court records of Joan's trial that were discovered only a few years before Dreyer made the movie. Of course the extensive use of closeups, the stark sets and the contrasts with the dynamic camera movement and editing are remarkable cinematic achievements. I had forgotten the wild riot scene at the end, which was nearly as impressive as the rest of the film.

But what made the performance was the live score--a 22 piece orchestra and 180 voice choir. It was powerful, soulful score, and the perfect balance of voices and orchestra. The voices were primary (the notes said that the idea was since Joan heard voices the score would be based on voices. Sometimes just a few female voices for Joan, and sometimes all voices filling the theatre. The instrumentals complemented the voices perfectly, never overpowering. Just beautiful.

I should note that I am by no means religious (in fact, I identify as atheist), but I can appreciate the power of this film and this score, and I understand and sympathize with those who say this is a powerfully religious experience.

Total Running Time: 110 minutes
My Total Minutes: 217,220

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