Perhaps it comes from my Catholic upbringing, or perhaps it’s simply because this teenager is in that rare class of heroes who are not only mythic, but actual. Whatever the reason, I think it would be fascinating to travel back to the late 1420s and trail this future martyred saint.
Part of my curiosity of course revolves around whether or not this young woman was indeed instructed by the voices she labeled as various saints. Whether she was or wasn’t, is sort of beside the point, though. What she did, leading French armies against the English, though she was not a trained warrior, is the stuff that would make for a rousing tale…even if it weren’t true. I want to see the stirring of the passions her presence instilled not just in the troops, but in the common people who embraced her as their champion.
Then there’s the infamous trial that eventually condemned her as a heretic. If not for the unabashed corruption of her inquisitors, Jehanne would surely have been able to escape not only her early death, but quite possibly her incarceration. The intelligence she demonstrated, which even the doctored court transcripts couldn’t hide, would make any defense lawyer proud. And all this from an illiterate farmer’s daughter from the village of Domrémy.
Her legacy to France extends to this day, and I think justifiably so. America’s Washington pales in the shadow of the Maid of Orleans. She not only help to rid France of English rule, but more importantly won back for her country its soul. And all this before her death at nineteen.
A couple of "Joan of Arc" items I’ve enjoyed that I’d be remiss on not mentioning: Joan of Arc (a/k/a Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc) is probably one of the most accessible biographies, made wondrous by the unexpected author, Mark Twain (who considered this his best work). On DVD, I recommend Leelee Sobieski’s Joan of Arc, which romanticizes the story a little, and is a little brief in parts. I’ve seen most of the other filmic works on this French heroine, and I have to say that this one feels like it’s more an homage to the story than to the filmmakers.