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Messenger, The: The Joan of Arc Story

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One of the favorite genres for movies is the historical epic. French director Luc Besson has made his entry with the Messenger: The Joan of Arc Story. The movie follows young Joan from about 10 years of age where she witnessed the murder and postmortem rape of her older sister. Joan was an extremely religious child going to church daily for confession and the mass. She started to hear voices at that young age and knew they were messages from God. Years later she adopts the persona of the Maiden, a girl destined to free France from the English. She manages to free Orleans and win the hearts of the peasants. Unfortunately for Joan she also gained the hatred of both the King of France and of England. With this hatred and fear come the involvement of the church to discredit Joan, set her to trial and eventually burn her at the stake. The history of this film is muddled and often right out incorrect. The trial of Joan came not from the English but was initiated by the French church. Even the fact that much of the trial dialogue came from 500 year old manuscripts (as noted in the making of feature) can not overcome the degree of dramatization of this story.

The acting in this movie is too over the top even for a Besson film. Milla Jovovich as Joan plays her at times as one truly blessed by God and at other times a schizophrenic. This uneven performance is beneath the star with her potential. John Malkovich as the king of France practically phones in his role playing it without his usual flair and elan. Even such notable great actors as Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway under play their roles, or even worse, make their roles into a pale shadow of what they are capable of doing. This film shows that even the best actors do better with a workable script.

Luc Besson is known for unusual subject matters. Leon, a story of a hit man and a 12 year old girl, La Femme Nikita, a secret government agency makes a street girl into a professional hit man, eh person. In all of Besson’s films the common thread is his fascination with young, waifish girls that are strong beyond their age or gender. Unlike other films of his the Messenger relies far too much on scenery, costumes and music without sufficient attention to plot and true character development.

The disc is stunning on its own. The sound will give an excellent workout to all your speakers, especially the subwoofer. The six speakers pound away at you not only during the battles but also in almost every scene. The video transfer is anamorphic and is in 1:2.35 aspect ratio. This transfer is free of defects or any compression artifacts. This one is for hard core Besson fans only.

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