Medieval Film Analysis Essay

Submitted By TomSeaman1
Words: 1829
Pages: 8

In all honesty it is difficult for me to decipher the differences between actual historical events that took place in the middle ages and the film adaptations that they influenced. In my mind recreation is an art form and in this sense, directors, producers, writers, and actors alike must come together as a group and creatively construct a fictional reality that best represents the times and subjects of that reality. It is nearly impossible to recreate a world in film, there are so many factors and little nuances involved that it is physically impossible to encapsulate them all within a film. This being said, I believe that film is an extremely powerful medium that can create feelings, emotions, and details that other mediums just cant. The use of sets, props, costume and scenery all offer powerful descriptive elements within the medium that could take pages upon pages to represent with just words. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” really plays into what I am trying to say here. What can be done within a single frame in a film, could take multiple chapters to explain within a book. Though theses settings and visual aspects do play a critical role within these films, I feel as though the single most powerful tool that films possess is the representation of the human condition. The emotion that can be created on film via facial expression, body language, camera angles etc. is a priceless entity in film and I do not believe that any other medium can come close to creating these aspects in such a powerful way. For instance “The Passion of Joan of Arc” directed by Carl Theodore Dreyer had the most significant emotional impact on me, as a viewer, out of any movie that I have ever seen. This is a great example of a new mode of historical representation. The film is purely based of the actual written records of the trial of Joan of Arc. If one were to read these records, I am sure that it would provoke a strong emotional reaction just due to the subject matter. But what Dreyer was successfully able to do was take text and transform it into something awe inspiring. Dreyer places an immense amount of focus on facial expressions to help tell the story. The majority of the film is shot in extreme close up which allows him to place a great deal of emphasis on the emotion of the characters. The film is shot in such a way that the viewer really gets a feel for what Joan must have been going through during the trial. When the camera is not focused directly on her and her emotions it shows the judges and the other people involved in her trial and incarceration from a viewpoint that represents how Joan would be seeing it. In the courtroom the judge’s tower over her with scowling faces, which really creates a feeling of fear and helplessness within the viewer. The lighting techniques used cast dark shadows on the faces of the men prosecuting her, which adds to the pure emotion and drama of the scene. When Joan is in frame she is shot in a very non-threatening way, soft light shines on her face, which gives off an almost angelic aura. The camera angles that are used are usually either at eye level or shot from above which adds to the non-threatening effects. This film really taps into the human condition and is a great example of how film can produce a very unique representation of the past (specifically middle ages). Although, as I mentioned before, I am sure that it is impossible to perfectly re-create a reality because retelling a story is merely a representation of past events. But in my mind the ability to capture these recreations on film has a much more profound effect on me (the viewer) than if I were to merely read the words on a page. I see film as a combination of many mediums that traditionally depict the past. Mainly writing, painting, and story telling and helps create an image within the mind and imagination of the viewer. It allows us some physical reference when we imagine what it would have been like to