These photographs from the 1928 French masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc represent a recent donation of over 50 rare original stills from the classic film to the Academy by Miss Diane Lapworth. The photos were originally a given to her stepfather from the film’s cinematographer, Rudolph Maté; the two had met during the making of the film in France in 1928, and remained close friends for decades after.
The photographs themselves speak to the skill of director Carl Dreyer and Maté, whose expressive compositions and use of minimalist and striking set designs, not to mention the exquisite face of Renee Falconetti, are captured beautifully by the still photographer’s camera, closely imitating the highly stylized compositions from the film.
Ranked as the ninth greatest film of all time in the most recent Sight & Sound poll, the film has been thought of as one of cinema’s great masterpieces almost from the time it was first released. Roger Ebert praised the film and wrote that "You cannot know the history of silent film unless you know the face of Renee Maria Falconetti."
As a result of Miss Lapworth’s generosity, students, scholars and researchers from all over the world will have access to these extraordinary images – and we are truly grateful.