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 notable French war heroine and religious martyr of the 15th century, played by Milla Jovovich. The story begins with young Joan witnessing the atrocities of the English against her family, and portrays her having visions that inspire her to lead the French in battle against the occupying English forces. Her success in routing the English allows Charles VII to take the throne. Eventually Joan is tried and executed for heresy.

A miniseries, Joan of Arc, happened to be released for television at the same time that Besson's film had release in theaters.

Plot[edit]

As a little girl, Joan 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, part of a longstanding rivalry with France. After an Englishman kills Catherine, Joan is taken in by distant relatives.

Many years later at Chinon, the Dauphin and soon to be King of France, Charles VII, receives a message from Joan. She asks for him to provide an army for her to lead into battle against the occupying English. He gives her an audience, where she describes her visions, and says that she is to lead the French Army to victory against the English. Desperate, he believes her prophecy that she can ensure Charles will become the King of France.

Clad in armour, Joan 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 without her to take over the stockade at St. Loup. 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. They proceed to the Tourelles, a small but secure stronghold commanded by Sir William Glasdale, which will be much more difficult to take. Joan gives the English another chance to surrender, which they refuse.

Joan leads the French soldiers to attack the Tourelles, and the English defenders inflict heavy casualties on them. Joan is struck in the chest with an arrow. The severity of her wound causes great concern within the French army, whose men she has inspired. The next morning she rides before the troops and leads them in a second attack.

As the English army regroups, the French army moves to face them across an open field. Joan rides alone toward the English and offers them a final 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 defeated. Joan returns to Rheims to witness the coronation of Charles VII of France. Her military campaigns continue to the walls of Paris. As she does not receive requested reinforcements, the siege is a failure. Joan tells King Charles VII to give her another army, but he refuses, saying he now prefers diplomacy over warfare. Believing she threatens his position, 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, based on her claim of visions and signs from God, she is tried in an ecclesiastical court proceeding. The trial is forced by the English occupational government. They ask her to take an oath of loyalty, which she refuses. The English wish to quickly condemn and execute Joan, as English soldiers are afraid to fight while she remains alive. The Bishop expresses his fear of wrongfully executing someone who might have received visions from God.

About to be burned for heresy, Joan is distraught as a Christian that she will be executed without having her confession heard. Bishop Cauchon tells her she must recant her visions before he can hear her confession. Joan signs the recantation. The relieved Bishop shows the paper to the English, saying that Joan can no longer be burned as a heretic.

The English devise another way to trap her. English soldiers go into Joan's cell, rip her clothes, and give her men's clothing to wear. They say that she conjured a spell to make the new clothing appear, which suggests that she is a witch. (The church executed known witches.) Although suspecting the English are lying, the Bishop abandons Joan to her fate, and she 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
22."Trial"  3:37
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]