Joan in Sheffield

Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc, from http://www.sensoria.org.uk

In the Nursery, the esteemed music duo (twins Klive and Nigel Humberstone) who have produced several scores of silent films, will be premiering their latest score, for Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) at the Sensoria festival in Sheffield on 16 April. This is a new festival of film and music, running 12-18 April 2008, though a full programme has not been publishd is yet, so I don’t know if there will be further silent film/music combinations. The venue for The Passion of Joan of Arc will be Sheffield cathedral, and the box office is now open.

The Passion of Joan of Arc is of course one of the landmark films of silent era, indeed of cinema history as a whole. It is one of those superhuman works where you cannot imagine that the mundanities of filmmaking – camera set-ups, lighting, pauses, retakes, breaks for meals – ever took place. Using extensive use of probing, intense close-ups (no make-up was used), the film is like the history of a soul, quite unlike any other movie (what a vulgar term that is) that you will have come across. Information on the film is extensive, but check out Carl Dreyer’s illuminating thoughts on the production process, with its emphasis on staying true to the documents of the period, on the Criterion site. Dreyer, so it is said, wanted the film to be seen in silence.

In the Nursery’s website has information on their previous silent film scores. These have included Electric Edwardians (the Mitchell and Kenyon DVD collection of early actualities), Hindle Wakes, A Page of Madness, Man with a Movie Camera, Asphalt and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. Sound extracts are available as mp3 files. The Passion of Joan of Arc will subsequently screen at Wave Gotik Treffen in Liepzig somewhere between 9-12 May, and at the Barbican in London on 1 June.

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