Silence of Joan

The IFI French Film Festival
Friday, 18th November 2011

The Silence of Joan
(Jeanne Captive)

The IFI French Film Festival continued on Friday evening with a screening of The Silence of Joan (Jeanne Captive), Philipe Ramos’ interpretation of Joan of Arc’s final days in captivity. The film was included in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.

Clémence Poesy (who was last seen as Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) takes on the role of Joan imprisoned in the Duke of Burgundy’s castle and about to be sold to the English. After God stops talking to her she takes a vow of silence until the voices in her head return – always something you miss. With our very own Liam Cunningham chipping in with a bilingual performance, The Silence of Joan seeks to go beyond the mythical nature of Joan of Arc in an effort to explore her humanity.

The director attended the screening and took part in a lengthy Q&A following the screening, which afforded the audience an insight into why he wanted to take on a character that has been represented so often in cinema – to such an extent that it has practically become a genre in itself, with about 38 films made concerning Joan of Arc.

Ramos was determined to approach the character in a different way. He explained that he found two periods of Joan of Arc’s life that had never been fully explored in cinema Joan: as a child and her final days in captivity. He was attracted to the latter because for him it was so rich in symbols, which the film explores in four striking moments: Joan’s jump/fall from the castle at the film’s opening; the first time she saw the sea; her martyrdom in jail at the moment when she is forced to don male clothing; and when her ashes are scattered in the Seine. Ultimately for Ramos such moments gave him the opportunity to explore Joan of Arc – not as Holy warrior but as a young woman without her armour.

Later that evening the festival hosted Jean-Pierre Améris’ charming comedy Romantics Anonymous about a woman whose shyness prevents her from acknowledging her gift for chocolate-making and gets in the way of a potential romance.

Steven Galvin

The Silence of Joan screens again on Saturday, 19th November at 15.30

Check out the festival programme here


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