The Messenger: The Story of Joan of ArcNovember 12, 1999
A young girl receives a vision that drives her to rid France of its oppressors.
Release Year: 1999
Rating: 6.3/10 (31,804 voted)
Critic's Score: 54/100
Stars: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Rab Affleck
In 1412, a young girl called Jeanne is born in Domrémy, France. The times are hard: The Hunderd Years war with England has been going on since 1337, English knights and soldiers roam the country. Jeanne develops into a very religious young woman, she confesses several times a day. At the age of 13, she has her first vision and finds a sword. When coming home with it, she finds the English leveling her home town. Years after that, in 1428, she knows her mission is to be ridding France of the English and so sets out to meet Charles, the Dauphin. In his desperate military situation, he welcomes all help and gives the maiden a chance to prove her divine mission. After the successful liberation of Orléans and Reims, the Dauphin can be crowned traditionally in the cathedral of Reims – and does not need her anymore, since his wishes are satisfied. Jeanne d'Arc gets set up in his trap and is imprisoned by the Burgundians…
Writers: Andrew Birkin, Luc Besson
(as Stephane Algoud)
Nobleman – Rouen's Castle
The Bludgeoned French Soldier
Release Date: 12 November 1999
Filming Locations: Bruntal, Czech Republic
Box Office Details
Budget: FRF 390,000,000
Opening Weekend: $6,360,968
(14 November 1999)
Did You Know?
Kathryn Bigelow refused to direct when Luc Besson insisted that Milla Jovovich, his wife at the time, played the lead.
When the English first see the army arrive on the far side of the river at Orleans just after Joan's first victory, you can see car tracks in the dirt of the shore.
I swear those Goddamned bloody English will pay for this.
Joan of Arc:
They will. And so will you, if you don't stop swearing!
There are many deviations from the accepted facts of Jeanne d'Arc's
life as set out in her trial documentation and the writings of the
time. This said, the central question of whether she was a saint, an
inspired lunatic, wholly mentally ill, or simply a headstrong girl
determined to grab her chances while she could is well asked. Many of
the comments here assert that Besson makes it clear that the Maid was
simply mentally ill, yet I read the film as deeply ambivalent about
what was going on. Were her visions the hallucinations of a
schizophrenic? Were they given by God? What's the difference? More
questions are asked: Why does an omnipotent, omniscient,
all-compassionate deity allow terrible things to happen? What is the
meaning of kingship – to own or to serve? What is the difference
between taking the lives of individuals and killing en masse? What's
the difference between Christianity and the earthly institutions of
that religion? Where does conviction end and fanaticism begin?
Jovavich's Jeanne is plagued by the difference between her idea of
utter submission to God and the consequences of doing so; by doubt over
the veracity of her visions; and by the gap between her ideals of the
divine rights of kings and realpolitik. She is constantly on the verge
of a nervous breakdown – is this a manifestation of her mental illness,
or of her "burning for God"? And where's the difference between the
The film raises more questions than it answers, and that's as it should
be. It is something of a shame that Besson's film takes liberties with
the facts as we understand them (though history is more often about our
interpretation of events than the events themselves), but in terms of
raising important questions on the nature of faith, it succeeds beyond