16. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1927)
As far as bald chicks go, Maria Falonetti(who plays Joan) ranks a close second to Sinead O’Connor in my books. You see I think Sinead is pretty fucking great. She’s smart, talented, political, outspoken, can sing the shit out of things, and she’s self-assured in a way I think few people ever are. I think it’s great when a person can go through the heat and controversy she went through and come out the other side, with their heart and mind still in tact.
Her first album is really good, and “Throw Down Your Arms” is tremendous(Sinead does reggae!), but the album that introduced me to Sinead was her biggest hit: “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got“. I think it’s one of those rare instances where something legitimately great makes it huge in the mainstream, kind of like Swirl 360 or K-Ci & Jo-Jo. It’s one those albums to that you can find in dollar bin at Cash Converters. The dollar bin is mostly overflowing with No Mercy, Right Said Fred, and C&C Music Factory CDs, but occasionally as in Sinead’s case you can find an album that made it really big that’s actually good: examples of which include Hole‘s “Live Through This“, or Arrested Development‘s “3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of…“. It takes patience though and a strong stomach combined with ability to make quick judgments and categorize albums into the category of guilty pleasure(Mark Morrison‘s Return of the Mack), or gives me sense of nostalgia(for me it’s the first Our Lady Peace album), or legitimately good(I once found The Verve‘s “Urban Hymns“), and finally just plain terrible(most of the Can-Con bands that were played ad nauseam on Muchmusic such as Ricky J. and Shawn Desman). The whole scene is actually kind depressing as you ask one of two questions: “someone actually bought this?”, and “8 people actually bought this?”. Soul Decision? Deep Blue Something? Love Inc? I mean seriously. To be fair I was once 13 and not immune to the popular culture. I did own a Jeff Foxworthy tape once, but I later repented for my sins. My only hope is that the rest of society has repented for theirs.
On the subject of Sinead O’Connor, I think a parallel can be drawn between Sinead and Joan(at least as she is depicted in the film). Sinead’s greatest battle was started when she tore up the picture of the pope on SNL(pretty ballin’ in my opinion), an act of defiance against the Catholic Church and in particular their response(or lack of one) to the growing allegations of child abuse by Catholic clergymen. Sinead was vilified for her stand, which many misinterpreted as anti-God(it could be strongly argued that her very belief in God is what caused her to take such a stand). The setting of The Passion is her trial for heresy, and is based on the actual court records. The conflict is essentially built out of Joan’s deep-seeded belief that she was in direct communication with God, which the Church found abhorrent. Throughout the film she is constantly asked to renounce her belief in God, in favor of believing in church doctrine. The connection I see between Joan and Sinead is that both were/are faithful believers in God, but this belief didn’t manifest itself in a safe way. It lead them to do radical things that conflicted with the expectations of the Church.
I find the conflict between Church and God to be very compelling. It’s interesting to me that 600 years after Joan of Arc, people can still be persecuted and labeled heretics for suggesting ideas about the world which conflict with the Church’s(or any religious entity) viewpoint. People is the same old shit.
On filmaffinity.com I gave this film 8/10, because I found the story very interesting, and the conflict presented in way I strongly identify with. Plus Maria Falconetti gives a tremendous performance which is probably the main point of interest.