T Nation

Movie: The Messenger

Well, guys…you know that I often have to share with you my recent rentals!

I was in a “War” mood this weekend…so I rented “The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc”.

This was actually a gritty, “real” movie with some of the most graphic portrayals of Medieval Warfare , (and life), on film. (You need to see that “Parapet Sweeper” that clears the breech of soldiers that have reached the tower walls with ladders…unbelievable…)

The movie mostly got panned by the “purist” and “historians”. But when you look at an emotional AND historical story like that of “Joan Of Arc”, you sort of get a “collective, ACCEPTED, truth”…and if a filmaker goes against that “accepted truth”…they will get panned.

Also…many felt Milla Javovich was a “poor” choice for Joan AND that there was a “hint” in the movie of Joan’s “visions” being borderline psycoses (I thought the casting of Javovich was fine…a little “screechy” when yelling at the troops…but overall was fine)

I say…good rental. If you can see it on a Big Screen, high-end system…amazing…!

Your thoughts?

Definitely NOT Luc Besson’s best. There is no denying that Milla Jovovich has screen presence. However, this was not the right vehicle to display. I know what Besson was trying to do here - create interest in a historical event by making it look more “modern” in tone. But I think he missed it.

I enjoy his earlier movies: Subway, La Femme Nikita (my favorite of his, damn good movie), and Big Blue. The Fifth Element is even highly enjoyable and visually a stunner.

I think the TV miniseries of Joan of Arc was much better. They weren't trying to turn Joan into a "popstar", but remained true in a historical vein. I still believe "Excalibur" has the best Medieval Warfare (gritty, bloody, graphic) ever committed to film. And while I'm not a huge fan of "Braveheart" the battle scenes were more intense than this movie (The Messenger). Just my five cents.

Mufasa, it's time you rent Predator, Guns of Navarone, Kelly's Heroes or even Heartbreak Ridge. Dude, you're worrying me! Gotta pick up that T-count!

Thanks, Patricia!!! LOL!!!:)—!!!

I can’t get the ‘ole “T” up if you keep bustin’ my balls!!! (Just kidding!!!)

Excalibur, huh? I haven’t seen that in a while, so now is probably a good time to rent it so I can compare and contrast with “The Messenger”…

I have to tell you…after seeing “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down” on DVD…the bar has REALLY been raised in the depiction of war…(by the way…I OWN “Predator”!!!) LOL!!!

I was just thinking about this movie having just seen the 13 th warrior and here it is.
I took the film as probing of christian beliefs. The visions were as the cloaked figure stated very open ended, there were multiple ways to take what was meant; and hours before being burned alive Joan realizes this. Who is to know what is right when provided no black and white answer, only shades of grey?
Further that the priest would refuse to help Joan after promising to do so only furthers to enforce the concept of questioning of God that both Joan and viewer are drawn into. This questioning reaches it’s peak when Joan confesses not to a priest but to the figure that was original preceived to be, at least by me, Satan.
Maybe I’m off base here but I’d interested to here what you guys think of this. Especially, whom you perceived the cloaked figure as.
But yeah it definitly was a good rental.

Ahhh, I’m glad you know I’m just playin’ with ya. Besides, you’re one up on us on the T-meter: we don’t own Predator - yet.

As for the improved showing of carnage on the beeg screen. That's agreed. More than likely it's due to the increase use of CGI as well as more $$ for production budgets. And if you do check out Excalibur again, rent the DVD or, if you can find it, BUY it. It's worth it. The DVD transfer is beautiful and John Boorman's (director) commentary is worth the price alone. I LOVE this DVD.

I loved the war scenes in The Messanger. I thought they way they depicted the nobles, or knights vs. Peasants during war was excellent.(Especially the huge dude with the spikes on his full plate).

Patricia is gonna hate me but I'm not a big fan of Excalibur. The storyline and acting were ok... but the combat, or fights to me appear pitiful.

It took me a long time to appreciate Messenger, and I still don’t think it was as good as it could have been. However, it was an analysis of Dustin Hoffman’s black-robed character that makes this film interesting. So, note, this will be a spoiler if you haven’t seen the film.

At first, like most people, I thought Hoffman’s character was Satan, making Joan question her own faith. But after a while, I understood…Dustin Hoffman is portraying God, or an Angel of God. You have to be familiar with Catholic theology to really appreciate what’s going on, but Hoffman’s character makes Joan really examine herself and her motivations. Why? So her final confession is an absolutely genuine one, free of pride or self-deception. That’s why she can die free of sin when burned at the stake, and it is what justifies her later being canonized as St. Joan (Jean).

Hey, if you haven’t yet: check out “Restoration”. A beautiful movie starring Robert Downy Jr., Meg Ryan, Sam Neill. It won Oscars for Best Art Direction and Costume Design. And it deserved them! Amazing stuff. What this movie was capable of acheiving with only a third of a budget of the other H-Town flicks is mind boggling. Also, the story was great, the acting superb - so, it’s worth a rental!


I second the kudos for Restoration…not only was it a great story, but it seemed like almost every frame was an artistic masterpiece. Everything, every color, every bit of costume was just…perfect! Another reccomendation for magnificent set & settings was Stanley Kubrik’s ‘Barry Lyndon.’ If I remember right, special camera lenses were used so that most if not all of the scenes were shot under natural lighting (candle, fireplace, and sunlight)…and many of the costumes weren’t costumes…they were actual clothes from the era depicted (mid-18th century, if I remember right).