May 29, 2013

Young Frenchwoman

Holy God, whose power is made perfect in weakness: we honor you for the calling of Jeanne d’Arc, who, though young, rose up in valor to bear your standard for her country, and endured with grace and fortitude both victory and defeat; and we pray that we, like Jeanne, may bear witness to the truth that is in us to friends and enemies alike, and, encouraged by the companionship of your saints, give ourselves bravely to the struggle for justice in our time; through Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Joan of Arc is a discomforting figure. Inspired or mad? Inspired and mad? Just inspired and politically astute but not enough to work around canon lawyers? However one assesses the mystical side of Joan, we are left with a very human, young, but powerful figure whose actions helped to shape an age.

Of the many portrayals that reflect her short life and tragic end, from Shaw to Anouilh, from Bergman to Falconetti, it is the latter who sticks in my mind and who inspired this icon. The powerful film by Carl Theodor Dreyer has been reissued in a restored version based on what appears to be the last surviving print of the film as the director intended it, discovered in a Norwegian mental institution. (I find it hard to imagine showing the film in this setting as it is powerfully disturbing even to a settled mind. Perhaps one of the doctors was interested in studying Joan?) The Criterion version boasts an optional soundtrack composed by Richard Einhorn and sung by Anonymous 4 ("Voices of Light.")

The icon is an effort to capture Joan's vision of a peaceful and idyllic countryside through the flames that consumed her. I am reminded of a line from late in Shaw's play, "Her heart would not burn..."

God give us faithful, mad folk to shake us from the complacency of satisfaction with less than you desire!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


JCF said...

I confess: I read the entry title (on the Friends-of-Jake blogroll) as "Young Frenchwomen", and thought you might be discussing the big Cannes win of (lesbian art? sex? art? movie) Blue is the Warmest Color. * Holy Jeanne D'Arc, pray for my gutter mind, LOL!

* As Leonardo Ricardo is discussing. See, it's not only me thinking about French lesbian (art? sex? art?) movies! ;-)

JCF said...

On-topic: I actually saw Falconetti's haunting portrayal of the "The Passion of Joan of Arc" almost 20 years ago. Yes, I was haunted alright! :-o

Before I read you based your icon upon her, I immediately thought of Falconetti just looking at it.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Naughty, JCF. I suppose I only have myself to blame, though.

I'd seen clips and stills from the film, but only saw the whole thing through when I got the Criterion DVD. Stunning work all round...

Joan Rasch said...

I am glad to see this post: I had forgotten that this is La Pucelle's day.

Of course, I ought to remember this; when I was baptized (at the advanced age of 30), a member of my parish at the time (who had a lot well-informed interest in saints), presented me with a little childrens' booklet called "Joan, the brave warrior".

I hope you won't mind that I will download your icon to use on my computer desktop.

Cheers from Boston - Joan Rasch

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Joan. I'm happy to know that the image speaks to her namesake...