Tuesday, 3 May 2011

THE MESSENGER : The Story Of Joan Of Arc (1999) MOVIE REVIEW


In 1412, a young girl called Jeanne is born in Domrémy, France. The times are hard: The Hunderd Years war with England has been going on since 1337, English knights and soldiers roam the country. Jeanne develops into a very religious young woman, she confesses several times a day. At the age of 13, she has her first vision and finds a sword. When coming home with it, she finds the English leveling her home town. Years after that, in 1428, she knows her mission is to be ridding France of the English and so sets out to meet Charles, the Dauphin. In his desperate military situation, he welcomes all help and gives the maiden a chance to prove her divine mission. After the successful liberation of Orléans and Reims, the Dauphin can be crowned traditionally in the cathedral of Reims - and does not need her anymore, since his wishes are satisfied. Jeanne d'Arc gets set up in his trap and is imprisoned by the Burgundians...


Biography | Drama | History | War 
A fresh feeling take on the classic tale, one that focuses on visual style rather than historical information.
Starring: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman, and Pascal Greggory Directed & co-writer: Luc Besson Running Time: 141 minutes Rated R (for graphic violence, rape, and for language)

Some classic stories just can't be updated. Example: "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" re-released in 1996. However, one of the greatest tragedies ever told, the story of Joan of Arc, has just been proven possible to be relateable even with time as its enemy. Luc Besson has created a fresh-feeling new version of Joan called "The Messenger," a historical epic that, for better or worse, concentrates mostly on visual style and realistic war scenes rather than answering questions we don't already know about the characters in focus here.

The historical Joan of Arc was a poor young French woman, who believed that there were spiritual signs that ordered her to be a messenger to aid the King of France to victory on the battle field. According to "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc," Charles VII, married to the bitter Yolande D'Aragon, was very grateful of her assistance at the time, especially when Joan explained that God has sent her to lead French troops to war with the English and be victorious.

The visions seen (or imagined) by Joan are clearly brought to life here, with more effective qualities than ever before in a Joan of Arc picture. They are filmed with many unusual special effects, bizarre camera tricks, and a beautifully crafted atmosphere of imagery. In use with these elements to the credit of the depicted scenes, they do a good job of expressing the spiritual dream-like moments through Joan with an imaginative feeling of majesty and revealing emotion. The style, camera, and direction all contribute to making these sequences of the best material in the production.

The film was shot in the Czech Republic, as well as the country of France. Cinematographer Thierry Arbogast captures the courageous historical time period flawlessly in these locations. The battle scenes may get little off track at times; some sequences are meant more for brutality purposes rather than a strong, focused narrative story.

The actors interpret their characters with a precise energetic edge. Milla Jovovich has the ability to be a believable Joan of Arc, but does push the limit on convincing us. Some of the film's efforts are straining toward the idea that Joan was somewhat mentally retarded-and Jovovich does a great job presenting that. Other familiar faces found in "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" include John Malkovich as King Charles VII, and Faye Dunaway as his spouse, Yolande D'Aragon. Also the legendary Dustin Hoffman inhabits a brief but appropriate role as the Grand Inquisitor, and Pascal Greggory is The Duke of Alençon.

There are scenes in this movie that make the audience stare at the screen in awe, but also scenes that make us ask ourselves questions. Although much of the production is spent on developing Joan's character and motives, the film still doesn't manage to answer some questions being asked by viewers pondering minds. We never learn if the visions Joan experienced were a calling from God, or just a figment of her intellectual imagination. Was Joan really crazy, or only near eccentric? Were the physical objects that Joan felt were signs from a higher spirit actually what she thought they were? An ulterior source could have been Lucifer deceiving the trusting Joan. Or did the French actually triumph in battles because of the spiritual strength accorded by Joan, or was luck the element present? And I personally would have like a little more explanation of the Grand Inquisitor character.

"The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" is a serious dramatic tragedy, and it takes itself as that all of the time. Luc Besson has constructed a movie that is ambitious and inspiring, with no room for the compromising or modest. I recommend the picture weather you're a new comer or a veteran to the Joan of Arc mythology. Even if you already know the story of Joan of Arc like the back of your hand, this telling might just surprise you. 
Directed by
Luc Besson 
Writing credits
Andrew Birkin (written by) and
Luc Besson (written by)


Rab Affleck Rab Affleck ...
Stéphane Algoud Stéphane Algoud ...
Look Out (as Stephane Algoud)
Edwin Apps Edwin Apps ...
David Bailie David Bailie ...
English Judge
David Barber David Barber ...
English Judge
Christian Barbier Christian Barbier ...
Timothy Bateson Timothy Bateson ...
English Judge
David Begg David Begg ...
Nobleman - Rouen's Castle
Christian Bergner Christian Bergner ...
Andrew Birkin Andrew Birkin ...
Dominic Borrelli Dominic Borrelli ...
English Judge
John Boswall John Boswall ...
Old Priest
Matthew Bowyer Matthew Bowyer ...
The Bludgeoned French Soldier
Paul Brooke Paul Brooke ...
Domremy's Priest
Bruce Byron Bruce Byron ...
Joan's Father

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