tek's rating: ¼

Joan of Arc, on CBC (Canada) / CBS (USA)
IMDb; TVarchive.ca; TV Tango; Wikipedia

This miniseries first aired in 1999, but I didn't see it until 2012, on DVD. I should say that in 1999, there was also a theatrical movie about Joan of Arc, called "The Messenger," which I still haven't seen. Anyway, Jeanne d'Arc is the sort of historical figure whose name I've heard often enough, but without knowing a lot of details about her. I knew she was French and that she led men into battle, and was burned at the stake. That's about it. So it was good to see a dramatization of her life, even if I don't really know exactly how historically accurate it was. Um... I also want to mention that the cast was pretty great, with plenty of people I like in other stuff as well as in this. Most notable for me, of course, are the star, Leelee Sobieski (Joan), and Neil Patrick Harris (King Charles VII). But there were plenty of other good actors.

So... it starts in 1412, when Joan was born. Clearly, France was going through some tough times. The movie quickly skips forward to when she was ten, and she starts hearing the voices of saints. Though she doesn't actually admit to that until seven years later, which is when the bulk of the miniseries is set. Rule of France was pretty much divided at the time between England, Burgundy (which was on the side of England), and um... well, France. Joan wanted all of France united under one king, and not an English one. But she leaves home because of an argument she had with her father, about a matter which seemed only tangentially related. Meanwhile, the voices had told her to go to the Dauphin, Charles VII, and help him get the crown. It took her awhile to get to him, and before that happened, she began to build a following, who believed she was the Maid of Lorraine, the object of a prophecy Merlin had made about a woman who would save France. Joan herself denied that she was the Maid, but the belief others had in her allowed her to lead them.

She was accompanied by a knight named Jean de Metz, and a few other soldiers. After Charles agreed to Joan's plans, he provided an army led by Captain La Hire, who didn't get along with her, at first. But she managed to lead the troops to a victory, at Orléans... maybe a few victories at different places, already I'm forgetting details, and I'm sure the miniseries didn't show us all of her battles. Anyway, Charles is finally crowned king, and the people of France love Joan. But she's not happy about some of the decisions Charles makes, and ends up in an argument with Bishop Cauchon. Um... he's kind of a complicated character in the story, who uses Joan in spite of not believing she really hears messages sent by God, but also seems to genuinely care about her, or at least about her soul. I dunno. Anyway, he does give her some good advice, to avoid pride. Which of course she fails to heed, and pays for it, when she eventually takes actions that were her own choice, and not instructed by voices. Of course, that was a very bad idea.

The whole situation continues to get more complicated, because of Charles's manipulations. And of course the English and Burgundians both want her dead, but they can't just kill her, they need to make the people stop believing in her. So she's eventually captured and put on trial... which she lets happen, because the voices have told her it's necessary for the eventual unification of France. I don't really want to say any more about the plot, but it's up to the viewer to decide whether she was really hearing voices of saints bearing messages from God, or if she was just crazy. (The miniseries definitely makes it seem she wasn't lying, but honestly believed in the voices.) Whatever the case, things eventually worked out for France, if not so much for Joan. Or maybe things did work out for her, in a spiritual sense. Not a great way to die at any age, being burned at the stake, and certainly dying at 19 isn't ideal, regardless of how it happens. But... yeah, I dunno. It's complicated. But it was a decent story, well-acted, and whatnot.


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