Saturday, December 12, 2015
Rivette provocatively refuses to stage the oft-filmed trial of Saint Joan in the second part of his epic biopic, instead chronicling Jeanne’s imprisonment and interrogation by the British, culminating in her burning at the stake. The Prisons tracks the fatigue and demolition of the soul that Jeanne endures in prison while also capturing the political machinations unfolding in the background. A hypnotic and moving work, The Prisons wholly involves the spectator in every detail of the road to Jeanne’s saintly fate, tracing a heartbreaking analogy between her persecution and her refusal to accept the role assigned to her by the powers that be. The film’s devastating conclusion confirms Bonnaire’s Jeanne as one of Rivette’s noblest, most resilient and complex heroines in an oeuvre filled with them. Print courtesy of Institut Francais, special thanks to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy NY.