Probably the freshest and more most interesting film the new cinematographic season. Based upon an original scenario by Delteil, it begins at the moment where Jeanne appears before her judges, and ends at the stake. Directed in close-ups; its auteur very rarely, almost never, uses group shots - not even foreground shots. Each one is composed with such care and with such art that often a “painting” comes into existence without ceasing to be, at the same time, a “shot”. Exceptional camera angles, on the verge of acrobatics. And not a single of his actors is in make-up: within the painful geography of his faces - their pores like wells - the life of flesh and bone springs overwhelmingly into being. Sometimes, the entire screen is filled with the singular whiteness of a prison cell, and, in one angle, the vindictive face of a monk, ready to pounce. Here one can predict storms, and with a meteorological exactitude. Nerves, eyes, lips exploding like tombs tonsures - signs shoved down the innocent through of the damsel. She: answers, weeps, or, weeping, distracts herself like a little girl with her fingers, with a button, with the fly that lands on the nostril of the monk.
- Luis Buñuel (1930)
The first plastic impression the we draw from this film has, of course, to do with the nearly continuous use of close-ups. The entire drama takes place across face, aside from the final sequence. And faced with any one sequence taken as an example of the film’s rigour, it becomes necessary to reflect upon its exact meaning. Here, as in any important cinematographic work work, style and substance are linked to such a degree that it would be puerile, under the pretext of formalism or concern with content, to separate the one from the other, or to neglect the one for the other.
- Chris Marker (1953)