The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc

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The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
Messenger poster.jpg
French Theatrical release poster
Directed byLuc Besson
Produced byPatrice Ledoux
Written byLuc Besson
Andrew Birkin
StarringMilla Jovovich
John Malkovich
Faye Dunaway
Dustin Hoffman
Music byEric Serra
CinematographyThierry Arbogast
Editing bySylvie Landra
StudioGaumont
Distributed byGaumont
Release dates
  • 18 October 1999 (1999-10-18) (premiere)
  • 27 October 1999 (1999-10-27) (France)
Running time158 minutes[1]
CountryFrance
LanguageEnglish
Budget$85 million[1]
Box office$66,976,317[1]
 
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The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
Messenger poster.jpg
French Theatrical release poster
Directed byLuc Besson
Produced byPatrice Ledoux
Written byLuc Besson
Andrew Birkin
StarringMilla Jovovich
John Malkovich
Faye Dunaway
Dustin Hoffman
Music byEric Serra
CinematographyThierry Arbogast
Editing bySylvie Landra
StudioGaumont
Distributed byGaumont
Release dates
  • 18 October 1999 (1999-10-18) (premiere)
  • 27 October 1999 (1999-10-27) (France)
Running time158 minutes[1]
CountryFrance
LanguageEnglish
Budget$85 million[1]
Box office$66,976,317[1]

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (simply titled Jeanne d'Arc in French) is a 1999 French historical drama film directed by Luc Besson. The screenplay was written by Besson and Andrew Birkin, and the original music score was composed by Éric Serra.

The Messenger portrays the story of St. Joan of Arc, the famous French war heroine of the 15th century and religious martyr, played by Milla Jovovich. The story begins with young Joan witnessing the atrocities of the English against her family, following her through her visions, to her leadership in battle, through doubt (with Dustin Hoffman playing a character credited as "The Conscience"), and finally to her trial and execution.

Coincidentally, a miniseries, Joan of Arc, was made for television at the same time as Besson's film. The films theme song is entitled "Tell Me" and is sung by Jovovich who played the title character

Plot[edit]

Joan, as a little girl, has a violent and supernatural vision. She returns home to find her village burning. Her sister, Catherine tries to protect her by hiding her from the attacking English forces. An Englishman kills Catherine. Joan goes to live with her distant relatives.

Many years later, at Chinon, the Dauphin and soon to be King of France Charles VII receives a message from Joan, requesting an army to lead into battle. Joan explains her visions to Charles, and declares that she is to lead the French Army to victory against the English, and predicts that only then will he become the King of France.

Joan, clad in armour, leads the French army to the besieged city of Orléans, which is under the military command of Jean de Dunois. She gives the English a chance to surrender, which they refuse.

The armies commanders, skeptical of Joan's leadership, initiate the next morning's battle for the stockade at St Loup without her. By the time she arrives on the battlefield, the French soldiers are retreating. Joan ends the retreat and leads her army into another charge, which succeeds in capturing the fort. With the fort taken, they find the Tourelles, a small but impressive stronghold commanded by Sir William Glasdale, that will be much more difficult to take. Joan gives the English another chance to surrender, which they refuse.

Joan leads the French soldiers to the Tourelles, where the prepared English defenders inflict heavy casualties on the French attackers. While climbing a ladder to the fort, Joan gets shot in the chest with an arrow. The seriousness of her wounds causes great concern within the French army. She rises before the troops the next morning, and leads them in a second attack, which proves successful.

The English army regroups on the other side of the river, and the French and English armies move to face each other on an open field. Joan rides alone towards the English and offers them a chance to surrender and return to England. The English accept her offer and retreat.

Informed of Joan's victory, the Duke of Bedford wants Joan of Arc burned. Joan returns to Reims to witness the coronation of Charles VII of France. Her military campaigns continue to the walls of Paris. Her requested reinforcements are not sent to her, and the siege is a failure. Joan tells King Charles VII to give her another army, but he wants her to go home, explaining that he now prefers diplomacy over warfare. Convinced that Joan has become a political nuisance, Charles conspires to get rid of Joan by letting her get captured by enemy forces. She is taken prisoner by the pro-English Burgundians at Compiègne, who sell her to the English.

Charged with the crime of heresy, stemming from her dubious claim of receiving visions and signs from God, she appears in an ecclesiastical court proceeding that is being forced upon the Christian church by the English occupational government. She refuses to take an oath, declaring it runs contrary to her beliefs. The English wish to quickly condemn and execute Joan as English soldiers are afraid to fight while she remains alive. The Bishop expresses his concern about the possibility of wrongfully executing someone who might have truly received visions from God.

About to be burned for heresy, Joan is distraught that she will executed without having confession. Bishop Cauchon plays upon her fear, telling her she must sign a recantation of her visions before he can hear her confession. Joan signs the recantation. The relieved Bishop shows the recantation to the English and tells them that Joan can no longer be burned as a heretic.

The frustrated English devise another way to have Joan executed by the church instead of by them. English soldiers go into Joan's cell room, rip her clothes and give her men's clothing to wear. They state she conjured a spell to make the new clothing appear, which suggests that she is a witch who must be burned. Although suspecting the English are lying, the Bishop nonetheless abandons Joan to her fate. Joan is burned alive in the marketplace of Rouen.

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
Soundtrack album by Éric Serra
Released2 November 1999
GenreFilm score
LabelSony Music Entertainment
Éric Serra chronology
The Fifth Element
(1997)
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
(1999)
L'Art (délicat) de la séduction
(2001)

The soundtrack for the film was composed by Éric Serra, and was released as an album on Sony Music Entertainment. Allmusic gave the album 3 out of 5 starts, stating it "combines orchestral, rock, and electronic elements for a sweeping, cinematic experience."[2]

All music composed by Éric Serra and performed by Serra featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and Metro Voices, except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."Talk to Him"  2:31
2."A Sword in a Field"  0:49
3."Joan and the Wolves"  1:17
4."Burying Our Children"  1:31
5."No Amen"  1:54
6."At One With You"  1:11
7."Chinon"  1:06
8."Yolande"  1:39
9."The Messenger of God"  2:45
10."Find Him"  1:21
11."Secrets of a Strange Wind"  4:53
12."To the King of England"  1:34
13."Sent By God"  0:59
14."Procession to Orleans"  1:32
15."Recrossing the River"  2:16
16."The Tourelles"  4:12
17."La Hire's Lucky Charm"  1:51
18."To Arms"  5:59
19."Armaturam Dei" (Track is Public Domain)3:19
20."The Miracle of Orleans" (Public Domain)2:00
21."Rex Coronatur"  2:50
23."Anger and Confession"  2:05
24."Answer Me" (Public Domain)1:15
25."The Repentance"  2:51
26."Angelus in Medio Igneous" (Public Domain)2:16
27."My Heart Calling" (Performed by Éric Serra featuring Moa, Noa)4:23

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc received mixed to negative reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 30% based on reviews from 73 critics, with the consensus: "The heavy-handed narrative collapses under its own weight."[3] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 54 based on 33 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4]

While director Luc Besson's and director of photography Thierry Arbogast's cinematography itself was mostly praised, the performance by Milla Jovovich, the level of violence, modern language used in dialogues, and historical accuracy were the most common topics discussed negatively. Jovovich's Yahoo! Movies profile states her performance "received respectable reviews from impressed critics who were unable to fathom that the girl with the commanding screen presence came from the emotionally vacuous modeling world."[5]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $14,276,317 in the USA, plus $52,700,000 outside the USA, for a combined gross of $66,976,317.[1]

Awards[edit]

The Messenger won two awards, at the 25th César Awards. One for Costume Design and one for Best Sound. It was further nominated for six more Césars for Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Film, Best Music Written for a Film, and Best Production Design.[6]

The film further won two Lumiere Awards for Best Director and Best Film, was nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design at the 1999 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, and won the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing.[7]

Milla Jovovich's performance was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc". Allmusic. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc". Metacritic. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Milla Jovovich- Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ "25th cesar awards (french academy) (2000) - films from 1999". Filmaffinity. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Jeanne d'Arc (1999)". eofftv.com. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ "1999 Nominees Press Release". Golden Raspberry Award. July 12, 2000. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]