The Passion of Joan of Arc (La passion de Jeanne d'Arc) is widely regarded as Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's finest achievement and one of the greatest films of all time.
Dreyer recreates the trial and execution of St. Joan with near-documentary authenticity, as if one were present at the actual 15th century event and both defendant and accusers were the genuine article.
The director's use of huge, probing closeups--detailing every pockmark and even the saliva at the sides of the mouths--adds a shocking immediacy which makes it hard to believe that this film is nearly seventy years old. As Joan, Maria Falconetti (in her only film) transcends mere praise.
Passion of Joan of Arc is a silent film, but the original transcripts of Joan's trial are brilliantly conveyed by the pantomime of the actors. The film's title is supremely double-edged: Joan's passion is shown to be as erotic as it is spiritual.