Feature Drama | 1920 | Silent | B/W
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Accusation and condemnation of Joan of Arc, including her burning at the stake.
The face of Joan, her hair cropped, against a white background, tears roll down her cheek, she looks up right and mumbles. A man in a skullcap, at the bottom right of the screen, cropped at the nose, looks down at her "Have you anything else to tell us?" She looks down, shaking her head slowly. Three robed men stand looking down in a white space. Joan shakes her head. The man asking the questions looks down at her impassively. Joan, looking down, sighs heavily, she looks very beautiful. The man in the skullcap watches her. He lifts his head up and moves away. Joan looks up, her eyelids heavy. The men walk away up a set of circular steps. A blonde man, the top of his head only, stares fixedly at Joan. The last robed man turns to look at Joan, he breathes heavily, looking at the blonde man who blinks. He approaches Joan. She looks up at him, hope in her eyes. He is followed by the blonde man. He says - "We have come to prepare you for death." He looks up, as a religious statue. Joan, her eyelids heavy, looks into his eyes. "Is it now…already?" He nods. They continue to stare at one another.
She says "What death?" He looks at her steadily "At the stake!" Her eyes widen slightly, her lashes full of tears. The blonde man touches the others elbow - "I am going to get the sacrament." Joan casts her eyes down. The robed man watches her kindly, saying "Tell me, how can you still believe that you are sent by God?" He smiles up at her. She looks on and says "God knows where he is leading us. We do not understand the road until we have reached the end of the journey." She looks at him sadly. He watches her, frowning slightly. He nods. Joan, her eyes glazed says "Yes, I am His child" He looks up at her and sighs heavily. "And the great victory?" Her full head, shaved. She looks up - "That will be my martyrdom!" He looks down, frowning - "And your deliverance?" She looks down, a tear runs down her nose "…Death." In a white church, a procession makes its way to the alter. A man carries a heavy cross. The monk looks down, towering over Joan. He asks "Do you want me to hear your confession?" She looks up at him, a wild look in her eyes, her mouth open. The procession of monks walk out of the church and down through the cobbled courtyard. The monk leans over Joan who sits, her head bowed. A cross hangs from the wall beside them. Outside, a monk nails a sign to the stake. The monk leans his head over Joan, listening. She looks up sadly as the procession of monks enter her room. Outside, a group of villagers huddle together, they march along. One on stilts yells out "Joan has retracted…they are going to burn her!" A statue of crucified Jesus towers up. The last of the monks enter Joans room. The camera swings a full 180 degrees over the path of a troupe of soldiers who march into the courtyard. More gather outside the gates. A monk stands, he pulls down folds of fabric from his hands which clutch a metal container. Joan looks on, sickly.
He pulls a wafer from the pot. An elderly monk in black rounds the corner to see the scene in Joans room. The monk towers over her, holding out the wafer - "Corpus omini nostri Jesus Christi custodiat animam tuam…" He holds out the wafer. Joan looks on in disbelief. The monk in black watches, his eyes wide. The monk crosses her with the wafer in his hand - "…in vitam aeternam, amen." She looks up and opens her mouth slightly. He places the wafer on her tongue. She blinks her eyes open and, looking up, puts her palms together. She closes her eyes. Pan along the line of choirboys who scowl at her. The monks look on in a preditory manner. She prays, the cross on the wall behind her. The monk in black lowers his head. Outside, figures gather, hanging out of windows to watch. Joan looks up, her face stained with tears. The procession leaves. A man with no legs rolls himself along in a cart. People run, crowding into the courtyard. Joan praying, her eyes closed. The monk to have asked her confession looks down at her. He looks to the right menacingly, then his eyes flit back to her suddenly. A parcel is layed by her side. He says "Put on your robe of repentance." He turns to leave. Villagers race over a bridge. The camera swings up to see soldiers watching them advance from the castle turrets. Joan, in the robe, is led out of her room. A 180 degree pan over the villagers as they run over the cobble stoned courtyard. Joan, leaning on the door frame for support, walks very slowly. Fast 180 degree pan of the path of the villagers. The monk walks beside her. The soldiers one after another, attatch chain barriers. Joans bare feet touching the stone steps. People race to the courtyard, but the soldiers bar their path. A line of soldiers with spears either side of her, Joan steps down. A man shoulders bags of wood. Her eyes staring, she walks unsteadily. Behind rails, the monks look on in contempt. Her eyes bulging, she drinks from a bowl an old woman offers her. A soldier hung with chains and holding a sword settles down into his seat to watch the show. Joan, coming to, looks into the eyes of the old woman, who turns her head away sadly. The camera follows a flock of black birds as they land on the bell tower. Joan, seen from below, her hands crossed on her chest, stops, the stake looms up behind her. She is handed a metal cross which she welomes and holds to her, saying "My sweet saviour, I accept my death with a good heart…" Birds sit on the bell tower. Joan turns around slowly and sits, clutching the cross, saying "…do not make me suffer too long…" Monks pray. Joan tearfully holds the cross. A baby looks up. A man struts, leaning over Joan, his head out of shot. He carries a rope. He takes the cross out of her hands and throws it behind him. He lifts her up gently by her arm. She turns around to face the stake. He lifts her and gestures she roll up her sleeves. He holds a knife between his teeth. She watches down as he ties a rope around her wrist. She looks around her, tearfully. Shot of her hand, the rope slowly drops to the ground and she bends down to pick it up and hand it back to the man.
Behind railings, the villagers look on. The man kneels at her feet, tying the rope. He moves behind her back. The monks, having seen enough, walk indoors. The one in black prays ferverantly. The man, knelt behind the stake, ties her wrists carefully, he winds the rope twice around her body. The camera moves up to see the sign nailed above Joans head. She opens her eyes, staring, then closes them. The flock of birds fly overhead. The monks, looking back briefly, go into the monestary. Joan opens her mouth, her head falling back against the stake. The wood below her starts to smoke. Suddenly her eyes stare wide for a second, she then sets her jaw and closes her eyes. The statue of Jesus on the cross is held aloft at her feet. Her eyes stare, she breathes heavily. The birds fly above. The logs burn. She looks around franticly, biting her mouth. The birds fly above. The smoke rising. She squeezes shut her eyes, moving her head left to right. The smoking bundles of wood. Her eyes stare. The bundles burn. Pan across the faces of women looking up at her sadly. The birds fly. A man creases up his face, holding back tears. A woman mumbles a prayor, next to her, women weep. The burning wood. Joans face, obscured by smoke. The wood burns. The villagers, with shawls about their faces, pray and cry, looking up, clutching candles before them. Pan across soldiers and villagers, all have tears in their eyes and knot their brows. The burning wood. Joan, in smoke, rocks her head from side to side, her eyes rolling.
The birds fly overhead. The villagers stand, smoke about them, their candles flutter in the wind. The smoke from the wood rises. Joans head thrown back. She looks across, her eyes wide, to see the statue of Jesus crucified, she holds her head aloft. The bundles of wood burn. A weeping soldier turns, holding a spear, to talk to the people behind him. The other soldiers look at one another. The cross is held up, smoke all about it. Joans head rocks. People look on in disbelief. Joan mumbles, holding her face up. Figures robed in black walk to her feet to kneel. A soldier throws maces down from a window in the castle turret. Another soldier stands below catching them. Pan across lines of women looking on, tears streaming down their faces. The camera rocks as maces are thrown. Joan, her lips dry, looks at the statue of Jesus in the smoke. Her eyes roll into her head and she falls forward, held limply by the ropes. "Jesus…" The people shuffle. Burning wood. A man cries out "You have burned a saint!" The soldiers are dispatched with maces to calm the crowds. The fire rages, Joan leans, limp. The soldiers race forwards, maces held aloft. From above - villagers run. Soldiers beat people to the ground. Joans head burning. The man holding up the cross stands still. The windows of the monestary are smashed. Crowds fight. The man with the cross stands in the chaos, looking up. Joans sillohette, surrounded by flames. Villagers run in panic. Joans body burning. The soldiers swing their weapons. Joans burnt body falls down from the stake. A girl looks up as the sign pinned above Joans head burns. More soildiers are called. The body of a cannon being manouvered. The fire rages. A soldier throws a spear. The chaos from above. A woman and child cry out. Men throw spears from the turrets of the castle. On the draw bridge soldiers beat people out of the castle walls. The fire. From below - soldiers run. As the villagers run from the castle, soldiers lined along their path beat them. The draw bridge is raised. The villagers are left kneeling on the bank in prayor. The empty stake burning, a cross in the distance.
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