Movie: The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)

It is rare to find a woman as remarkable as Joan of Arc (1412-1431) in the annals of European Middle Ages who left a lasting influence on history in her short life before she was burnt at stake when she was only 19.

The film portrays the life of the French war heroine and her efforts to reinstall the deposed French ruler whose throne was usurped by the English as the latter inched along conquering the rest of whatever was left outside their control.

Joan of Arc’s presence, deemed heavenly and miraculous at that time, boosted French morale. She literally led the French army from the front to decisive victories against the English Crown which changed the course of the battle. The French ruler managed to become King after English defeat. Joan of Arc was caught by Burgundians who were English allies. She had a sham inquisition, convicted of witchcraft in a politically motivated religious trial and subsequently hanged.

Historical drama has the license to add in fiction to history to make it a presentable whole. However it doesn’t have the license to distort history in a way that depicts major and decisive events completely falsely, unless, of course, it’s “alternate history”.

The film, therefore, is grossly misleading in so far as it depicts major historical events. One example is French betrayal of Joan of Arc after she’s captured by the English. There was no betrayal in reality and it was out of the power of the newly installed French King to help Joan out of English captivity.

The other thing that irked me greatly was the use of modern language especially the dialogues and (disappointingly) American accent of few actors. The guy who played Dauphin/King of France was a complete joke. He with his looks, hair cut, and peculiar constitution is well suited for a character of a baseball junkie in downtown Philadelphia but certainly not the King of France in the 15th century.  My rating 3/5. IMDb Link


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