Some Kind of Martyr

Was Joan of Arc trans?

Does it matter?

1928’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, brought to us by the fabulous Carl Th., seems to think so. In other tellings of the same story it doesn’t seem to be as much about her as an agent of God–perhaps because in other films it’s easy to get caught up in the fact that Joan is played by megababes. Ingrid Bergman, Geraldine Farrar (see C.B. DeMille’s Joan the Woman. On second thought, don’t.) They give an actress a semi-butch haircut and assume it does the job. But not only is Maria Falconetti’s Joan androgynous beautiful, she is androgynous-spiritual–it is made a plot point. The film itself is a study in disorientation. We are told the story almost exclusively in close-up, with no sense of the space in which all this is taking place, and even less of a sense of the context of the tribunal, the actual thing for which Joan is fighting. As a result, it appears to be a film about someone who is judged on the basis of who they are, rather than how politically dangerous they are to authority. Which works, because it’s the Christ narrative, and Carl Th. makes this quite plain. 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~ by levantor on January 24, 2010.

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