The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

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Brianruns10
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The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

Unread post by Brianruns10 » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:09 pm

For those interested, I just published the first video in a series I hope to undertake, examining various films from a historical, technical and analytical perspective. This first video is a comparison of the two different cuts of The Passion of Joan of Arc:


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Mike Gebert
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Re: The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:17 pm

I edited this so it would appear here directly.
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Big Silent Fan
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Re: The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

Unread post by Big Silent Fan » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:22 am

Interesting review comparing two separate cuts. I had no knowledge of anything other than the original copy being discovered in the hospital. How fortunate we are today, to be able to see the film exactly as it was intended. Now we're able to see an image at least as good, if not better than the original was when projected with more primitive equipment.
You mentioned a 2nd cut is now available from several sources. Are those copies from 35 mm or 16 mm as your's was? Do those also run faster than the film were able to see today?
Film pacing and film speed issues are common with many re-releases today, but it was worse before now. I remember both hearing and reading Kevin Brownlow explain that for a time, all older Silent films were projected in a 24 fps format, the same as sound films (instead of the typical 20 fps of many Silent films).

Perhaps this might be why the 2nd copy, with it's added score and intertitles runs at a slightly different pace?

All Darc
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Re: The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

Unread post by All Darc » Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:05 pm

The director had the worst case of bad luck on film history...

The first cut of Passion of Joan Arc had the camera negative destroyed in a fire at the film lab a after few prints had being made. Then he made a second version (second negative) using outtakes , since to prepare a duplicate negative from a surviving print from first version would have very bad quality for final distribution. But this second negative (outtakes) was also destroyed in a new lab fire. Again he took outtakes and made a third version.
Not sure if all versions survived in some prints, but this is the history I know. Surely the first version it's the best, since he sellected the best takes, and that's the print discovered in the hospital.
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Brianruns10
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Re: The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

Unread post by Brianruns10 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:06 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote: Perhaps this might be why the 2nd copy, with it's added score and intertitles runs at a slightly different pace?
I was concerned about this very issue. Fortunately, my source for the analysis I conducted, presented the first cut in 24 and 20 FPS, as there is some disagreement as to which speed is preferred. That source provided the 2nd cut, at 24 FPS only, since it was sonorized by Lo Duca. So for my comparison of the first and second cuts, I could be certain both were being played at the same speed. The difference between some takes, therefore, was organic to the shot, and not a byproduct of a speed mismatch.

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Re: The Passion of Joan of Arc: Comparing Versions

Unread post by Brianruns10 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:13 pm

All Darc wrote:The director had the worst case of bad luck on film history...

The first cut of Passion of Joan Arc had the camera negative destroyed in a fire at the film lab a after few prints had being made. Then he made a second version (second negative) using outtakes , since to prepare a duplicate negative from a surviving print from first version would have very bad quality for final distribution. But this second negative (outtakes) was also destroyed in a new lab fire. Again he took outtakes and made a third version.
Not sure if all versions survived in some prints, but this is the history I know. Surely the first version it's the best, since he sellected the best takes, and that's the print discovered in the hospital.
But for all its bad luck, it was a miracle that the print found in Oslo was a copy of the Danish version. I do not have my sources on hand, but according to what I read, two prints were struck at the time of the original Danish premiere, and the Oslo print is very likely one of those two prints. It may even be the print that was shown at the April premiere.

It is therefore tantamount to discovering a fine grain master positive or lavender print. Because the camera negative was pristine when the print was struck, and it was likely the first or second such print made from the negative. That print was only screened a handful of times and then stored.

As for the 2nd version, I yearn to learn more about its history. Lo Duca used for his work a negative which according to some sources was a dupe negative, but may in fact have been the original negative of the 2nd cut, which had been thought lost in a fire as well. I have not heard what happened to this source, as the material ultimately used for the Masters of Cinema disc was a 16mm reduction print.

To further muddy the waters, there is a version of the film that was excerpted for use in "Vivre Sa Vie," that uses the same takes as the Lo Duca version, and is therefore sourced from Dreyer's second cut, yet it is silent and has different intertitles, and was likewise in very good condition, judging by its quality on the Criterion blu-ray.

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