Monday, February 21, 2005

UnSilent Film 3: The Passion of Joan of Arc

SynthCleveland will present the 1928 Carl Theodor Dreyer classic silent film "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc," featuring a new live soundtrack on Wednesday, March 9 at 8pm, at Rain Nightclub, 4142 Lorain Ave. in Cleveland.

This is the third in a series of "UnSilent" films -- silent movies with an improvised live score -- performed by SynthCleveland members the scinema, Steven K. Smith, tofu, dust_head, fluxmonkey and thieves like me.

Spinning before and after the film will be special guest DJ Feima from WCSB.

In describing his work, Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer said that film should present "truth filtered through an artist's mind, truth liberated from unnecessary detail." Starring Renee Maria Falconetti (in her only film), Dreyer's unconventional camera angles are uncompromising as he seeks the truth in Falconetti’s haunted eyes and relentless close-ups of the characters faces. The effect is so striking that Jean Cocteau remarked that it looked like "an historical document from an era in which the cinema didn't exist".

The screenplay was based on the transcripts of Joan's trial. The legend of a simple country maid from Orleans, dressed as a boy, leading the French troops in their defeat of the British occupation forces. After being captured and brought before a church court, her belief that she had been inspired by heavenly visions led to charges of heresy and led to her being burned at the stake in 1431. Dreyer combined 29 cross-examinations, combined with torture, into one inquisition.

"It may be the finest performance ever recorded on film," wrote Pauline Kael, but it almost didn't survive at all. The original negative was destroyed in a fire and the film was thought lost until a print was accidently found in a closet in a Norwegian mental institution in 1981 and restored in 1985.

Rain Nightclub is located at 4142 Lorain Avenue (216-651-4100).