Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Movie Review: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
148 mins.
November 12, 1999
Rated: R

This movie takes us from the time Joan is a little girl until shortly after her death. We are privy to her visions and really get the feel of her passion and devotion to the cause. We are really seeing the world as Joan would see it – you get caught up in her revelations. All of the pieces of Joan’s story are here – the visions, the battles, the heresy trial, the burning at the stake. Not being familiar with the intimate details of her story there were some new events brought to my attention here.

Overall I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would – based on the reviews that I had read. People felt that it was poorly acted – I thought that Mila Jovovich did a good job of portraying a truly passionate woman following what she believed to be the word of God. The movie doesn’t make a determination one way or the other (as to if she was crazy or actually being spoken to by God) but it does go into some self questioning at the end (by a comically funny Dustin Hoffman as her Conscience type person). The movie presents both possibilities. I think this was done to make her more human and less saintly – someone that a wider audience would connect with and someone who still wrestles with her conscience. Others complained that people during this time period would never speak the way they did (or use foul language) – I say, I’m glad they are speaking modern language or I would probably lose interest. And it terms of foul language there is a handful of colorful words and I’m sure that they used similar language back then too!

In terms of cinematography – there are some great wide shots of the people and landscape and I thought the scenery was well done. It was nominated for awards in Best Cinematography and won a Cesar (French equivalent to Academy Awards) for Best Costume Design.

The only thing that I wish had been improved in this film would be the ending – it felt a little rushed. This is a long film and maybe a few minutes could have been sacrificed from the battle scenes to leave time for a longer ending – since it really is the climax – without making the film longer.

I know that the concept of Joan of Arc can still spark controversy among people today – however if you look at the movie on its own, it’s relatively decent – I very much enjoyed it. If you are someone who is interested in the life of Joan of Arc I would recommend this movie – despite its detractors. If you are someone who is passionate about her story one way or the other – I might caution you against watching it.

I want to point out that although this movie is rated R I didn’t find it to be as bad as many other movies with that rating. Most of it is due to the war scenes – which can be brutal but are certainly not the worst I have seen. There is also one scene involving a rape – however you don’t directly see it happening – it is more alluded to and you are on the other side of the wall with a peephole view. For more on the rating check out this page.

Also, while this is a Foreign film – it is presented in English – I was thrilled that I did not need to turn on subtitles!

Check out this trailer:

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Interesting! Joan of Arc seems to be popping up all over in my life lately...I'll have to check this out.

  2. Faith - she has been showing up in a lot of places lately!

  3. I've always been a fan of Milla Jovovich and I remember watching this movie years ago. Her acting feels so effortless and I can completely believe any character that she plays.

  4. I've always been fascinated by Joan of Arc so I saw this film in theaters when it first came out. I really liked it. It may not have been the best movie ever made about a historical figure (I give that honor to Braveheart), but it was definitely good and Milla was great as Joan.

  5. I pretty like anything Mila does. Everything is always a bit different. Never saw this in it's entirety, but would like to now,. Thanks chica :)

  6. Natalie - I haven't seen her in any other movies that I know of, but I thought she pulled off Joan well.

    Michelle - No it wasn't the best historical ever - and I haven't seen Braveheart so I can't even venture to compare - but I did find it enjoyable. I agree.

    Jenny - No problem! I will have to check out some of her other films.


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