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Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc(1948)

Remind Me

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In December of 1428, sixteen-year-old Joan D'Arc, the daughter of a French farmer, prays intently in a church, listening carefully to the "holy voices" in her head. Later, at her home in Domremy, in the province of Lorraine, Joan listens to her embittered father Jacques and uncle, Durand Laxart, discussing the English takeover of France and the traitorous collusion of the Burgundians. Joan then learns that her younger brother Pierre has been plagued by a recurring dream in which he sees her leaving home at the head of an army. Feeling that Pierre's dream is a divine sign, Joan decides to follow the instructions of her holy voices and heads for Vaucouleurs to meet with Sir Robert de Baudricourt, the governor. When Joan asks the governor to take her to see the Dauphin, Charles, because God has sent her to "save France," Baudricourt dismisses her with a laugh. As Baudricourt is leaving Vaucouleurs, however, Joan warns him that a disastrous battle between the French and the English is about to take place in nearby Orleans. Later, while Joan waits for the governor's return, a soldier tells her about a prophesy that has been circulating throughout the countryside, which states that a maid from Lorraine is destined to save France. As soon as Baudricourt returns to Vaucouleurs, he reveals that Joan's prediction regarding Orleans proved accurate and orders a priest to examine her. After the priest declares Joan pious and pure, Baudricourt sends her to see the Dauphin in Chinon. Escorted by Jean de Metz, a knight, and Betrand de Poulengy, a squire, Joan makes her way to the Dauphin's court. There, the weak-willed Dauphin, who is content to trade French land for English gold, attempts to fool Joan by placing his crown on the court poet's head and hiding himself among the ladies. Although she has never seen Charles, Joan immediately senses the ruse and picks the real Dauphin out of the crowd. Unnerved, the Dauphin tells Joan that he is unworthy of the crown, but she insists that it is God's will that he become king. As proof of her piety, Joan reveals to Charles in private things about himself that "only he and God" would know. Inspired by Joan's faith, Charles orders that an army be assembled, with the peasant girl as its spiritual leader. The Dauphin's confidence is quickly shaken by his self-serving underlings, however, and after three weeks, the army has not moved from Chinon. Once again, Joan uses her simple faith to convince the Dauphin to act and is soon on the battlefield with her soldiers. To prepare for battle, Joan insists that the men go to confession and not swear, gamble or indulge in camp followers. The soldiers at first rebel against Joan's restrictions, but when she tells them that "our strength is in our faith" and encourages them to become "God's army," they change their ways. Before attacking the palace at Orleans, which the English now control, Joan approaches the British commander, Sir William Glasdale, to negotiate a peaceful surrender. Glasdale balks at Joan's warnings, however, and calls her a "strumpet" and a "witch." Turned away by Glasdale, Joan and her captains order the army to storm the palace. During the fierce contest, Joan is shot in the shoulder by an English archer and is carried back to the French camp. Although weak and groggy, Joan soon returns to the embattled palace and fights her way to the roof, where she sees Glasdale fall to a fiery death. The French soon capture the palace, but Joan is too overwhelmed by the destruction of war to celebrate her victory. Despite her misgivings, however, Joan continues to lead the French army in a series of battles, reclaiming much of the country from the English. Joan's dream is further realized after the Dauphin is crowned king, but when the Burgundians, who fear that Joan's army will take Paris, their last stronghold, buy peace from Charles for 100,000 crowns, Joan feels betrayed. Then, after Joan threatens to tell the people about Charles' deal with the Burgundians, she is dismissed from the army. Despairing, Joan seeks spiritual guidance in a church, but finds that her "voices" have fallen silent. Finally, Joan organizes her own army and heads for Paris. While defending a fort at Compiegne, however, Joan is arrested by the English, who then sell her to the Count-Bishop of Beauvais, a Burgundian, for 10,000 pounds. Anxious to be rid of Joan, the Burgundians and the English plot to force her execution by accusing her of heresy. During the first part of her lengthy trial in Rouen, Joan is questioned in public by a panel of judges and, insisting that she is a prisoner of the English, not the church, skillfully defends herself against their accusations. Concerned about the positive impression Joan is making, the court closes the trial to the public and attempts to wear her down with questions about her voices, her mission and her manly attire. Joan's defiant piety eventually causes her one defender, Jean Le Maistre, the Inquisitor of Rouen, to turn against her, and she is found guilty of heresy. As part of her public ex-communication, Joan is encouraged to abjure and is promised life in a woman's prison if she does. Terrified of dying at the stake, an exhausted Joan reluctantly signs a declaration of abjuration. When she is returned to her male-guarded cell, however, Joan realizes that she has been duped and, finally hearing her heavenly voices again, renounces her abjuration. The condemned peasant is then sentenced to die at the stake, but as flames and smoke engulf her, Joan is comforted by the sight of a cross and mutters the words, "Let none be hurt for me."