About the music video
This music video is comprised of various scenes cut together from a famous French film of the silent era called The Passion of Joan of Arc. The film was written and directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Joan. Released in 1928 the film is based on the actual record of the trial of Joan of Arc.
References and Influences
I didn’t study at film school and so it wasn’t until after writing and recording my track that I actually learned of Dreyer’s film while watching Mark Cousins brilliant documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey. I then sought it out and through watching it I came to recognise many references from feature films and music videos that I had grown up with. For example the minimalism in REM’s music video for Losing My Religion reflects Dreyer’s stark production design. Sinead O’Connor’s shaved head in her video for Nothing Compares to You instantly reminds you of Dreyer’s close ups of Falconetti. Even the low angle shot where Joan is dying on the stake calls to mind James Cameron’s Aliens when a colonist encased in alien goo is about to meet their unfortunate demise. The film is moving, captivating, claustrophobic, disturbing and certainly qualifies as a masterpiece.
Technically speaking there is no problem in using Dreyer’s film because the film is out of copyright. “Which means the person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights, to the extent allowed by law.” (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)
The decision to use Dreyer’s content
For me the decision to use Dreyer’s content has been more ethical than legal. I am a filmmaker after all and so I have the capacity to shoot my own content instead of using someone else’s. But in the end I decided I had the potential to bring this content to a new audience who, like me, might otherwise never see Dreyer’s film.
Here are the main reasons
- There were many similarities in the structure of my song and the film which would mean I would essentially be filming the same story that Dreyer had already done. I felt that by keeping Dreyer’s film as intact as possible from a chronological point of view I could maintain some of the mood and intention of his original narrative.
- In researching the song I found and used lines that Joan was reported to have said during her trial. Dreyer also incorporated onscreen text via text boards written in French. In this way the song and the film have certain synergies that make them, for me at least, a natural fit.
- Dreyer never settled on a final musical score for his masterpiece and so in some way it felt appropriate for me to offer my track as a suggested accompaniment.
Bringing Dreyer’s work to a new audience
We live in a time of video mash ups where content as a cultural currency is often devalued. Younger generations want to consume content quickly and this video does that almost like a movie trailer.
In short I hope this marriage of music and video does more to help tell the story of Joan of Arc than its separate parts. At the very least it might spark a debate about the legal and ethical use of copyright. What do you think?
Watch Dreyer’s entire film here
Read ‘Where to begin with Carl Dreyer’ here
Read ‘Joan of Arc: striking the right note for a silent film classic’ here
Morrissey re-release of ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’
Since publishing this blog post I discovered that Morrissey plans to use Falconetti’s image from the film on the front cover of his re-released ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’.