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11 Jan 2023

Joan of Arc (1928 & 1948)

Featuring Dr Laura O'Brien

How do we remember the people of the past? And what does it mean to enact that remembering through the medium of film? Joan of Arc (b. 1412-d. 1431) has been depicted on film more than most historical figures. The broad outlines of her life certainly provide the basis for good drama, as she went from peasant girl to successful military leader to heretic, burned at the stake, all in under 5 years. A complicated figure in her own time, Joan's story became all the more enthralling when she was eventually given sainthood by the very Church that martyred her. Still, the various ways she has been remembered on screen may be almost as interesting as The Maid herself, for what it can tell us about ourselves and about the act of commemoration in popular culture. 

Join us, as we compare two wildly different Joan of Arc films, La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) and Joan of Arc (1948), and two wildly different Joans, with our wonderful guest, Dr Laura O'Brien. 


la Pucelle -

The Maiden. This is the name Joan (or, Jeanne) used to refer to herself. After her death, she eventually became known as la Pucelle d'Orleans (the Maid of Orleans).

Hundred Years War (1337-1453) -

A conflict between the monarchs of England and France over feudal rights in Gascony that escalated into a fight for the French crown. Lasting 116 years (with intermittent fighting), the French eventually won and gained control of all of France except Calais.

Inquisitor -

An officer of the Inquisition, a court set up by the Catholic Church, originally in the 13th century, to determine whether individuals were heretics. 

Heretic -

Someone who advances a theological position contrary to established orthodoxy on a matter which could affect the salvation of themselves or any affected 3rd party.

Episode Credits:

Many thanks to Dr Laura O'Brien for her time and expertise.

Laura is Assistant Professor in Modern European History at Northumbria University, Newcastle. She is a cultural historian of France and Europe, and her work is particularly focused on visual culture and performance, including how history is adapted and depicted via cinema and theatre. Her research interests also include the cultural history of religion in France, print culture, and the history of Paris. You can find Laura on Twitter @lrbobrien.


Thanks also to Laura for suggesting the most interesting film-pairing we've heard thus far: a box of Larmes de Jeanne d'arc (Tears of Joan of Arc). These chocolate sweets, in the shape of a tear-drop, are made in Rouen, by Jean-Marie Auzou Chocolatier.

A photograph of two chocolate poxes against a bright blue silk background. Both boxes say, Les Larmes de Jeanne-d'Arc, Jean-Marie Auzou, ROUEN. In front of the boxes is a little pile of the chocolate sweets. They are alomd-shaped and look like a milk-chocolate covered in a white powdered coating.



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