The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc


Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by:Luc Besson, Andrew Birkin
Starring: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman
Released: February 3, 2000
Grade: B+

The problem with history’s great true stories is that they are open to vast interpretation.  Joan Of Arc’s conquest in the 15th Century as she led the French to recapture what was invaded by the British has been written about but as time has passed the details have become sketchier.

French director Luc Besson’s (The Fifth Element) take on the Joan Of Arc story is not so much a viewpoint of what she did, but rather why she did it and what went through her mind from such a young age.

In this adaptation, Milla Jovovich plays Joan surprisingly well.  Starring in the pivotal role was a challenge she rose to with amazing strength and she does capture a striking figure.

Joan Of Arc opens rather boringly as the stage is moulded over the first half hour but from then on the time flies by.  John Malkovich takes the role of France’s king, Charles VII with Faye Dunaway as his mother Yolande D’Aragon but in one of the strangest roles I have witnessed, Dustin Hoffman plays her conscience (yes, that’s right).

Besson’s direction is effective if not unusual but Dustin Hoffman’s character was unnecessary in my opinion.  As I mentioned, the story is open to wide interpretation and this one is way out there.  The facts are not flawed but the analysis of Joan’s mindset is bewildering.  It’s hard to see what point Besson was making that hasn’t already been made in past versions of Joan Of Arc. It is the same story just done with a bigger budget in an art-house form.

Graphically gory and realistic, Joan Of Arc is worth checking out especially for the performance of Milla Jovovich, but it is just too long and at times, too confusing.  One wonders when the next crack at her story will been seen.  Knowing Hollywood, it won’t be too long...