DVD Release "Mother Joan of Angels" (1961) dir. Jerzy Kawalerowcz
One of the landmarks of Polish cinema fully and carefully restored from original materials and presented in new High-Definition transfer
Second Run DVD
EXTRAS: New filmed appreciation by Michael Brooke and Booklet essays
Based on the documented story of the demonic possession of a group of nuns that led to the burning of a priest at the stake in Loudun, France in 1634 (which also formed the basis for Ken Russell s notorious 1971 film The Devils and provided inspiration to Aldous Huxley for his renowned novel The Devils of Loudun). In acclaimed director Jerzy Kawalerowicz's hands Mother Joan of the Angels is a spare, visually astonishing and profoundly disturbing exploration of faith, repression, fanaticism and sexuality. Aided by an extraordinary performance by Lucyna Winnicka as Mother Joan, Kawalerowicz produces one of cinema s most evocative and intense studies of the tragedy of emotion repressed by dogma.
Visually this film is a masterpiece. Spooky and haunting it is an exemplar of how, in filmmaking, less can be so much more.
Having received the Jury Prize at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, Mother Joan of the Angels does not fall into that category of ‘lost’ films. However, it is certainly a film that deserves a much better reputation and a wider viewing public. Yes, it does contain exorcism, flagellation and murder but it is the opposite of The Devils Ken Russell’s overblown (though wonderful) take on the same story. Mother Joan is a quieter, more subdued film and all the more effective for that. Any fan of classics of the strange such as Nosferatu and Witchfinder General should find much to enjoy in Mother Joan of the Angels.