Messenger " on DVD
Arc de Triomphe
by Jim Bray
Director Luc Besson's
follow up to his popular sci-fi flick "The Fifth Element" is an historical
epic in the grand tradition.
"The Messenger, The
Story of Joan of Arc," (though the credits of this "International version"
merely say "Joan of Arc"), puts me in mind of "Braveheart," Mel Gibson's
epic widescreen story of Scotsman William Wallace.
Milla Jovovich ("the
Fifth Element" herself) is very good as the young Saint Joan-to be, a
woman who believes she's a messenger from God and who leads a French army
against the occupying English forces.
Despite her youth
and inexperience, she either really does get her orders and strategies
from God or is a quick study who's also very, very lucky, because she
manages to engineer and lead a string of victories against the evil Limey
Joan shows up before
the Dauphin who would be King (John Malkovich, in an excellent portrayal),
bringing her heavenly message of hope and convincing him and those around
him that she really is (or at least, may be) carrying the word of God
Joan of Arc is a tragedy,
of course, because as everyone knows her short life ended with her being
burned at the stake. It's also an uplifting story, however, because it
deals with strength of character and believing in something greater than
oneself (whether it be God or the service of your country).
"Joan of Arc" is an
epic film in every way. Its widescreen look, production design, costumes,
and sets all bring to mind the big screen epics of old - movies like "Ben-Hur,"
"Dr. Zhivago," etc.
Besson and his team
have assembled all the elements, including a talented cast and, according
to the liner essay, a scrupulous attention to historical detail.
All the elements are
indeed there, yet somehow "Joan of Arc" seems a bit flat.
Still, this is a grand
film and should really be experienced on as big a TV screen as possible.
the supporting cast includes Faye Dunaway and Dustin Hoffman, though the
latter is scarcely more than a cameo role that could have been performed
by any journeyman actor.
This isn't to put
down Hoffman's performance, which is fine; it appears, however, that he's
there to add some star power that wasn't really necessary.
The film is the "International
Version," which means it has more footage than the US theatrical version.
The DVD's anamorphic
video and its audio quality, both of which are digitally remastered, are
top notch, and there's some nice use of the surround tracks (mostly for
weather effects and the like, but that's fine). For extras, you get an
interesting, albeit short, liner essay, an "HBO First Look" featurette
on the film, and you can listen to the musical score (which is very good)
on its own isolated audio track. There are also some talent files and
the theatrical trailer.
The Messenger, the
Story of Joan of Arc, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
158 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Milla Jovovitch, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffman
Produced by Patrice Ledoux, Screenplay by Andrew Birkin and Luc Besson
Directed by Luc Besson
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