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Sacred Cinema 

Wednesday, May 6 2009
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Notwithstanding the dweebs who claim to have found religion watching Star Wars, spirituality and the cinema don’t go particularly well together. Faith is a difficult quality for the camera to capture and convey, while the transformation that accompanies newfound faith is only slightly more visible. Hence the miracle that is The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent masterpiece encompassing the trial, incarceration, interrogation, and execution of the devout young virgin. Renée Jeanne Falconetti gives a breathtakingly expressive and vulnerable performance, universally recognized as a pinnacle of screen acting. Dreyer makes the most of his star’s bravery, employing a variety of unvarnished and unflinching close-ups that dissolve the emotional distance between the actress and the audience. With the declining number of rep houses, The Passion of Joan of Arc is infrequently shown in theaters nowadays. But a screening in a spiritual setting — a house of worship — is even rarer, making this event a small miracle in itself. As an added bonus, the British brother act In the Nursery, which started out making industrial music and moved into silent-classic soundtracks, performs live accompaniment.
Mon., May 11, 8 p.m., 2009

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Michael Fox

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