6 December 2021

Bruno Dumont's Jeannette, l'enfance de Jeanne d'Arc | Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (2017)

As this film is directed by Bruno Dumont, we must of course be prepared for strangeness. This was not filmed in Domrémy, now Domrémy-la-Pucelle in Lorraine, but like so many of Dumont's films this was filmed on the Côte d'Opale. And although this is 1425 and everything is designed to look like we're in the Middle Ages, this musical leads us well away from that period.

Bresson is an obvious influence in this, although (dare I say it?) I was almost reminded of Jacques Demy but with completely non-professional actors in this very odd film. Here we have the early days of Jeanne d'Arc, at first an eight-year-old called Jeannette (Lise Leplat Prudhomme), who begins by singing from Le Mystère de la charité de Jeanne d'Arc (1910) by Charles Péguy, who is a huge influence on this film. Jeanne is worried about the Hundred Years' War, and confused about which position to adopt to it. Her friend Hauviette (Lucile Gauthier) fears that Jeanne will turn strongly towards religion: she is seeking advice from the nun(s) Madame Gervaise (Aline et Élise Charles). Yes, that's two people in one, singing and dancing as one.

But the songs and the dances aren't medieval and there's a lot of head-banging and modern music and in the second part, when Jeanne (Jeanne Voisin) is several years older, her uncle Durand (Nicolas Leclaire) sings rap. But by then she's overcome her doubts and decided to go to Orléans and fight the English. The rest is history, although is that repeating itself in Brexit? I jest, I think.

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