;The use of extreme facial closeups to convey inner emotion in the Passion of Joan of Arc.

The director of The Passion of Joan of Arc uses extreme closeups of characters in the film to truly convey their inner emotion throughout the film. Initially the viewer can be skeptical of this technique and it does seem very hard to convey correctly, but the actress that portrays Joan of Arc in the film does a wonderful job of capturing all necessary emotion through her face. It is seen that in the image below, Joan of Arc is at the beginning of her questioning and is beginning to see how her treatment will continue while in the hands of the English. Her face in the light, shows her youth and innocence that comes with her age. The light also reflects in Joan’s eyes very well, and shows her tears that she holds back while being interrogated.

(Time Stamp:6:32)

It was very interesting to watch this film, because modern films are more reliant on alternate techniques in which to portray the emotion of a scene, as this film took a very simple and straight forward approach. Seeing as it is a silent film, Joan has to do an excellent job of capturing the moment, and this is very well balanced by the blank wall in the back, so that the viewer is forced to focus on the expression on Joan’s face and nothing else. In this scene the actress that plays Joan does an excellent job of showing fear, once again her eyes shine a reflection of the scene among her and he face trembles in fear as to what may happen to her.

(Time Stamp: 28:02)

I also noticed that in many of the scenes while the director is showing any group of people or a person other than Joan, he usually pans across a distance to capture the emotion of the whole group. When Joan is shot, she is usually focused upon and the camera is kept still. This might be so that the viewer has to completely focus on Joan’s emotion, but when surveying the crowd he wants to capture the emotion of the crowd. When the director does show the viewer the setting of the scene he shows certain objects of focus, upon a mostly blank canvas or background. It is a very interesting way in which to draw the view of the audience towards certain points. In this scene a cross is seen atop a church and the background is very blank. The focal point is obviously the cross, which is in question in this scene.

(Time Stamp: 1:22:23)

Finally I thought this scene captured the climax of the movie very well. In this scene Joan is being burned at the cross, and her face is in pure terror and shock. She cries and looks towards the sky as if still in question over gods existence and her divine intervention. Once again a very dreary and blank background drawn cloudy by smoke. The actress who plays Joan does a wonderful job throughout the movie of acting primarily through facial expression and the director does a great job of capturing it. The director draws a parallel between Joan and Jesus in this scene and throughout the movie, a noticeable difference is that Joan still seems in question of her faith.


(Time Stamp:5:32)



1 Comment

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One response to “;The use of extreme facial closeups to convey inner emotion in the Passion of Joan of Arc.

  1. annacantwell

    Like many other viewers, I’m sure, I was skeptical of the director’s seemingly constant use of facial close-ups. Studying in psychology, however, this is a wise tactic. Before learning any other skills, babies can imitate the facial expressions of those around them. From infancy, humans naturally look to faces first in photos and in social situations. We use faces as a survival technique, by reading others’ emotions and adapting appropriately. Although it seemed a bit excessive in The Passion of Joan of Arc, I think the power of facial expressions, combined with the actress’ skill and the director’s cinematography, made for an influential film.

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