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JOAN OF ARC – Hugo Friedhofer

October 31, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

The impetus of the film lay with actress Ingrid Bergman who had been lobbying Hollywood for years to make the film with her in the titular role. Well, she finally secured backing by Sierra Pictures, which was created by producer Nick Meyer specifically for this film. RKO joined, Walter Wanger was assigned production, and a budget of $4.7 million was provided. Maxwell Anderson and Andrew Solt were tasked with adapting Anderson’s Broadway play “Joan of Lorraine” for the screenplay, and Victor Fleming took the reins to direct. A fine cast was assembled to support Bergman in the titular role, including; José Ferrer as the Dauphin, Charles VII, Selena Royle as Isabelle d’Arc, Robert Barrat as Jacques d’Arc, Jimmy Lyndon as Pierre d’Arc, Rand Brooks as Jean d’Arc, Frederick Worlock as John, Duke of Bedford, Colin Kieth-Johnston as Philip, Duke of Burgundy, Francis L. Sullivan as Bishop Chaucon, and Shepperd Strudwick as Father Massieu.

The film is set in 15th Century France in the aftermath of France’s ignominious defeat in the 100 years War against England. It offers a hagiography of the young 14-year-old girl Jeanne d’Arc who one day hears voices from Heaven calling her to lead God’s army against Orleans to enable the crowning of the Dauphine Charles VII as King of France. She rallies a defeated nation, triumphs in battle, and succeeds in gaining Charles his throne. Yet in the end King Charles betrays her for money by selling out to the Burgundians and dismissing his army. As She prepares to carry on with a few loyal men and attack Paris, she is captured. Joan is then tried by the English and Burgundians in a vengeful sham trial for heresy, which results in her martyrdom when she is burned at the stake. The film was a modest commercial success, earning a profit of $1.1 million. Its earnings dropped dramatically when news broke of Bergman’s adulterous affair with married Italian director Roberto Rossellini, with the Catholic League asserting that it was blasphemous for an adulteress to play a saint. The film earned seven Academy Award nominations for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Film Score, winning two for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design, as well as a special Oscar for Distinguished Service to Walter Wanger.

Victor Fleming’s usual composer Herbert Stothart was not available for the project, and so he turned to composer Hugo Friedhofer who made an impression on him with his Oscar winning score to “The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Friedhofer was eager for the assignment as he had not taken on a historical epic since his first film “The Adventures of Marco Polo” (1938). He understood that while the film provided a massive historical backdrop with battling armies, the core narrative was the intimate story of a young woman who answers God’s call to restore her country to greatness. He understood that he would have to infuse his soundscape with the requisite religious auras and liturgical sensibilities as the film offered a testament to faith, which ultimately leads to her conviction for heresy and martyrdom.

Friedhofer supports his soundscape with a trio of primary themes; the Vison Theme supports Joan’s visions where she attests to communing with Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. Friedhofer supported the religious experience with reverence using an ethereal, wordless women’s choir. The Destiny Theme supports Joan’s destiny as the ‘Maid of Lorraine’ to lead France to victory and restore her greatness. The theme is dramatic, and heavy laden, borne by strings solenne, which inform us of both the great honor, which has been bestowed, but also the heavy burden. The Faith Theme offers a testament to Joan’s enduring faith in God. There is fervency in the notes, a spiritual thirst, a profound yearning for the divine, which provides a compelling and inspired narrative. You feel this theme and its expression supports some of the film’s most inspiring scenes. For the battle of Orleans, Friedhofer supports traditionally with a number of classic marches; militare, Religioso and Fracese, empowered by military horn fare. Lastly, there is remarkably no legitimate commercial release of this film score. As such I will use film scene descriptors in place of album cue titles with time indices serving as links.

00:00 Silence supports “Preserved by UCLA Film and Television Archive”. At 00:06 we commence “Main Titles”, which supports the roll of the opening credits, which display on a French blue background on which is displays a golden crowned upright sword, flanked by two fleur-de-lises. A grand statement of the solemn Destiny Theme informs us of a great tale, which is about to unfold. At 0:49 we flow into a profoundly inspiring statement of the Faith Theme. At 1:41 we flow into “The Players” with script that displays the cast of players for each of the film’s settings; “At Domremy, Joan’s Birthplace in Lorraine December 1428”, and “At Vaucouleurs, February 1429” which Friedhofer supports with a string borne pastorale set against a painted rendering of Lorraine. At 2:09 horns reale resound and usher in court pageantry as “The Court of Charles VII at Chinon, March 1429” displays against a painted backdrop of the royal castle. At 2:28 martial drums and horns militare support “With The Army at the Battle of Orleans May 1429” set against a painted battle scene. At 2:48 “The Enemy” displays a painting of a damaged English castle supported by strings full of distress and horn bellicoso declarations. At 3:03 “The Trial at Rouen” displays a painting of the castle of Rouen supported by the menace of dire horns, which usher in a stately statement, which portends doom.

At 3:28 we flow into the film proper in “Joan’s Consecration” atop tolling celebratory bells, which usher in liturgical solemnity as a choir singing in Latin support Joan’s consecration. The camera ascends to the painted murals of the cathedral dome, which dissolve into a display of a book titled “Sancta Joanna de Arc”, which a priest opens. At 4:19 narration carries us into “France in Ruin” a score highlight as we are informed of Joan’s short nineteen-year-old life during a time when France lay in ruin due to the 100-year war against the English and Burgundians. A retinue of solemn woodwinds gentile take us to the interior of a damaged church where we see Joan knelling in prayer. Strings reverenzale join as she communes with the voices of her saints. At 5:11 in “The Vision” we commence a stirring ascent crescendo religioso carried by refulgent violins and the ethereal choir of the Vision Theme as Joan is urged her to take up the sword, lead the armies of France to victory, and crown the Dauphin at Reims. At 5:28 we close with strings tristi, which support her saying “What a pity, a pity that is the kingdom of France” as her father calls to her. He admonishes her for her seclusion and praying, saying she is neglecting him and the family.

After dinner Joan’s mother and brother disclose to her that father has had dreams in which she leads an army to Orleans. Joan is unsettled and leaves to fetch water and at 8:44 we segue into “Joan’s Torment” as the Faith Theme as we see her very troubled as she walks to the nearby stream. At 9:09 distress builds and at 9:20 she drops the buckets and runs up a hill carried by strings energico and woodwinds of flight until 9:30 when horns solenne sound to support her kneeling at the hilltop shrine. She weeps, declaring her uncertainty, anguish, and worthiness for such a task. Friedhofer supports the moment with solemnity with a burdened Faith Theme borne by strings affanato. She relents, submits, and states; “Then I must go, and do what I can, without knowing how”, supported by fateful horns solenne. At 11:20 we segue into “Joan’s Request” as strings of flight and woodwinds full of unsettled tension carry her run back to Uncle Durand. Portentous horns sound as she begs him to take her to the town of Vaucouleurs to speak to Governor Robert de Baudricourt. He refuses and Joan sets out on her own carried by beleaguered strings and bell tolls. At 12:47 strings of hope arise as Durand relents and offers her a ride in his cart and the music blossoms as we see them approach Vaucouleurs.

In “Joan and the Governor” she makes her plea to see the Dauphin as God has ordered her to lead his armies. She is ridiculed, escorted out and returns full of sadness to the home of her uncle where she reaffirms her command by God to save France. At 17:36 music enters atop beleaguered strings and woodwinds of uncertainty as she states her determination to remain until Sir Robert listens. Durand agrees to leave her with friends and not disclose events to her father.

At 18:18 we segue into “Joan’s Determination” atop grim horns and dissonant strings as the castle guard forbids her entry to see Sir Robert. At 18:36 woodwinds tenero carry her into town where sympathetic towns folk comfort her. Their support and prayers impart buoyancy to the music and bring a smile to Joan. She enters to find her mother, who has come to take her home. In “Joan Accepted” Sir Robert arrives with a priest. He states that her assertion of a great battle four days ago was true and queries if she is a witch. Joan denies so and a priest, blesses her and says if she comes from God, to approach him. She does so with piety and humility. Music enters at 20:48 atop the refulgent strings solenne of the Destiny Theme as the priest declares her not a sorceress. Sir Robert relents and assigns her escort by Sir Jean and his squire Bertran to the Dauphin supported by the gentility of strings and woodwinds, which speak to Joan’s essential goodness. Travel by horseback to Chinon in winter will be hard and long, and Joan has her hair cut short and agrees to ride as a boy. Friedhofer supports the extended scene by sustaining the gentle passage by a small ensemble of woodwinds and strings.

In 24:05 we segue into “Journey to Chinon” as Sir Robert gives her his sword and bids them a safe journey. The Destiny Theme join with reverence as her mother bids her goodbye and gifts her, her personal religious ring. They depart on a crescendo of hope as Sir Robert nurtures hope for the prophesy of the “Maid of Lorraine”. At 24:55 grim strings support their nigh time journey until they reach a river where local guards demand them to present themselves. Strings and woodwinds of unease support their arrival. The leader recognizes Joan as the Maid of Lorraine, gifts her some bread, and warns them to bypass their town, which is occupied by Burgundians. Friedhofer bathes the scene with warm and hopeful religioso auras as they declare their hearts for her. At 26:54 we segue into “Arrival at Chinon” atop grand fanfare reale as we see the Dauphin’s castle in the distance. At 27:15 we segue into “The Dauphin’s Court” atop festive source music, which supports the tumbling dancers and merriment of court. Slowly the music softens atop woodwinds to support dialogue between the Dauphin and his creditors. He is at their mercy and upset, but advised of new entertainment, the arrival of the “Maid of Lorraine”. They conspire a ruse to have the Count of Clermont impersonate the Dauphin to humiliate her. She is then summoned to approach the Dauphin.

At 34:45 we segue into “Joan Finds the Dauphin” a stirring score highlight atop a dark chord as Joan hesitates, and declines his hand supported by strings tristi as we see in her eyes knowledge of the deception. Slowly she begins walking through the crowd supported by a slow growing crescendo religioso of the Vision Theme, which climaxes gloriously at 35:19 as she finds him, kneels in submission, and hugs his legs to the astonishment of all. Stirring strings religioso support her confession and desire to assist him. The court distrusts her except the Duke d’Alencon and the Dauphin, who wavers. At 37:47 we segue into “The Revelation” atop the strings solenne of the Destiny Theme as Joan offers to disclose to him a secret only known by the Dauphin and God to prove her divine sanction He agrees and they exit to his private Chapel. At 38:15 we segue boldly into “The Maid’s Army” a score highlight as we see people joining Joan army. We flow into a classic marcia militare as armored knights ride through the countryside, followed by infantry men, and farmers armed with pitchforks.

At 42:38 we segue into “The Dauphin Decrees” atop the Faith Theme as Joan pleads to the Dauphin to empower her to lead the troops to Orleans, despite his reservations and the protests of his ministers. He sees her fervency and truthfulness of her eyes and orders her to lead the attack. At 43:26 trumpets empower a marcia militare as we see Joan leading her troops into battle. The music become festive as she enters camp and the common folk gather in awe to catch a glimpse. At 44:52 trombones militare resound, joined by trumpets and drums to announce her arrival at command headquarters. At 45:27 the music become solemn as Joan in introduced to her generals. They are as men of the times, chauvinists who will not allow her to give military orders. She agrees, but provides religious orders for the troops to end their debauchery and go to confession. At 48:30 dire strings of defiance sound as they all refuse. She departs intent on speaking to the troops herself. As she enters the camp the festive source music returns. She calls out to the men to end their gambling, swearing and to send the women home for they must embrace God for victory. Her fervent religious exhortations win their hearts.

At 52:46 we segue into “The Parlay”, now empowered by a marcia religioso with choral support as the French have been transformed into an army of God. The separate parade of generals however is empowered by a trumpet propelled classic marcia militare. At 53:33 muted trumpets support the approach of the Bastard of Orleans who comes to parlay. The music darkens with menace as he arrives. At 53:30 she says she has been ordered to speak to the English commander and tell him to yield to save his men from carnage. Dire horns declarations support her departure. She is cruelly, and spitefully rebuked with Friedhofer supporting her departure with mockery. Back at camp the music darkens and becomes ominous as she ponders. At 57:05 we segue into “Battle” of Orleans”, a dynamic score highlight atop the ethereal chorus of a glorious Vision Theme, which ascends for a refulgent statement as Joan draws her sword and orders the attack. Friedhofer unleashes a ferocious torrent of orchestral violence for the score’s premier action cue as we see the two armies battling. At 58:27 Joan personally leads a fearless charge with her white fleur-de-lis banner empowered by trumpets feroce. The men rally to her courage and storm the castle battlements. At 10:36 horns dramatico resound and propel Joan’s climb up a ladder, only to have her wounded by an arrow and fall. As the English declare victory, the French attack with greater ferocity as Friedhofer unleashes Hell.

At 1:01:14 we segue into “Attack!”, another grand score highlight, on a diminuendo of concern, which ushers in strings tristi as the men tend to her back at camp. At 1:02:12 field horns resound and usher in a chorale of horns solenne, which call for the French to withdraw. Joan will have none of it, pulls the arrow from her shoulder, dons her armor, and rallies the men to attack supported by resounding martial trumpets militare and snare drums of war. A rousing anthem Francese propels the new assault, which breeches the walls as Friedhofer again unleashes monstrous orchestral violence. At 1:06:25 defiant trumpets irato resound as the English general chooses death by fire rather than surrender to a witch. At 1:06:36 we segue into “Aftermath” a poignant and rousing score highlight. Joan surveys a battlefield strewn with blood and thousands of dead bodies alight in a crimson glow under the fiery red sunset skies. Strings affanato usher in at 1:07:19 a threnody of woodwinds as her generals approach her, as she weeps and informs them that she is heartbroken and overcome with grief. At 1:08:12 a solemn marcia vittorioso arises as her generals exhort her to lead the victory parade into Orleans, as she has restored their faith in France. She agrees, and the march swells with French pride as she rides into town on a white horse under her white banner of Heaven as the people cheer.

At 1:08:54 we segue into “Conspiracy” as the Duke of Bedford, Philip, Duke of Burgundy, Bishop Cauchon of Beauvais, and Sir William Glasdale fret about Joan’s victories and the imminent peril of Paris. They believe that she should gain the crown herself, not the feckless Charles, and they decide to capitalize on her error in judgment. They agree to bribe Charles and rid themselves of this heretic Maid of Lorraine. In a scene change to Rheims Charles prepares for his coronation and considers a $100,00 payment (bribe) by Philip, Duke of Burgundy to agree to a truce. These scenes are unscored. At 1:14:47 we segue into “Charles VII’s Coronation” a grand score highlight where a magnificent cinematic confluence is achieved. Fanfare reale resound and join with liturgical mixed chorus, and bells religioso to support the pomp and pageantry of the coronation of Charles VII as king of France. The music recedes as the bishop anoints Charles, but returns with grand magnificence at 1:16:54 as fanfare maestoso resound as Charles receives the trappings of power; his robe, scepter and crown. We culminate grandly with a chorale of celebratory church bells as Charles is crowned. Fanfare reale resound to declare the moment as Joan looks on with satisfaction. As Charles departs the altar, mixed chorus offer celebratory praise with Joan dutifully and humbly following behind. At 1:18:58 liturgical men’s chorus returns to support Charles sitting on his throne. Joan approaches, kneels and submits herself, declaring her happiness for his kingship. Charles is impassive, shows no appreciation, yet concern descends on his face as the crowd chants of “Long Live the King” yield to chants of “Joan the Maid!” Charles first act as king is to inform Trémoille that he will meet with the Burgundian messenger.

At 1:20:24 we segue into “Croquet” as we see Charles and members of his court playing croquet in his lawn garden. Friedhofer supports with a small ensemble, which imparts a gentle madrigal-like ambiance. In “The Audience” Charles after weeks of delays, agrees to finally meet with Joan and Duke d’Alencon. She exhorts him to let her take Paris and secure France’s victory over the English, but he is firmly opposed, saying that he negotiated a peace treaty with Burgundy. Joan and the Duke are devastated at the betrayal, more so when Charles declares to the duke that he has disbanded the army. He then orders d’Alencon to return to his estate, while Joan must remain in court until given permission to leave. As he departs the court merriment and madrigal ambiance resumes, juxtaposed to Joan’s devastation.

At 12:56 we segue into “Joan’s Decision” atop dark foreboding strings as some of her generals exhort her to inform the people of Charles betrayal. But Dunois advises that she remain with Charles in hope of influencing him for good. Joan ultimately decides to stay, believing that God chose Charles and God cannot be wrong. Friedhofer supports quietly under the dialogue with a soliloquy of sadness, which speaks to their feelings of betrayal. At 1:29:31 woodwinds full of heartache support the sad, heartfelt goodbyes of her dear friends and usher is an aching string borne Destiny Theme as d’Alencon kneels and offers thanks for all that she has done for France. She sees love in his eyes, is overcome and quickly departs. At 1:30:34 we segue into “Joan Prays” a score highlight, where Friedhofer masterfully supports one of the film’s most dramatic scenes with a pathos of suffering. We see her knelling in prayer as she holds her sword. She surrenders her armor and sword to God’s altar saying France is at peace, but she says she is bitter and will willingly give up her role to return home. A wounded Faith Theme, full of sadness supports her words, gaining fervency as she declares that she has been abandoned and knows not her error. At 1:33:52 refulgent violins ascend in hope as she reaching to heaven and begs for her voices to return and guide her. Feeling alone and abandoned, she declares she will resume the war not wearing God’s armor, but humbly, the armor of a common man as she has lost divine favor. She knows that she will be captured and die, but believes this better than the lingering slow death here, trapped at court.

At 1:34:49 we segue into “Joan is Captured” atop horns dramatico, which resound as a bound Joan is brought into the English castle at Rouen. Later in a meeting, Bishop Cauchon of Beauvais is intent on burning Joan at the stake for heresy, and so offers Philip, Duke of Burgundy a £10,000 bribe to release her to the custody of the church. The duke succumbs to such a large bribe at 1:38:26 supported by dire strings and portentous horns. At 1:38:33 we segue into “Joan in Custody” atop strings gentile as Joan sows with the duke’s wife. At 1:39:00 a maid informs them that the duke summons Joan as he counts a mountain of money. Joan believes it is her ransom, paid by Charles VII and strings of hope ascend to support her joy, yet portentous grim horns sound as she departs, informing us of the duke’s betrayal. A processionale gentile by woodwinds supports her walk. As she enters to see the English and the duke with a look of shame counting his bribe, she realizes her worst fears. Dissonant strings of anguish surge to emote her betrayal as she is turned over from Burgundian custody, to the English.

At 1:29:58 we segue into “The Trial Day 1” atop portentous tolling bells. The first round of the trial is unscored until Joan’s parting rebuke of the English and traitorous French Burgundians. At 1:49:36 the English Earl of Warwick chastises Bishop Cauchon for his incompetence handling the trial. Dark, dire horns of doom resound with his rage as he orders the public trial moved to a private venue under his direct control. As Joan walks with her priest confessor an aggrieved string borne Destiny Theme carries their progress and speak to her frustration of being barred from church. At 1:50:28 we shift to the inquisitors counselling Cauchon to solicit the deposition of the earlier church investigation at Poitiers. On bishop protests this English show trial farce and resigns as an act of conscience, which results in Cauchon ordering his arrest by the English. Friedhoffer supports the extended scene by sowing tension, unease and treachery. At 1:52:04 Joan returns to her cell where she is chained to her cot. We close with a surge of anxiety and a cadence of doom as Father Massieu departs and the jailer leers at Joan with lust.

In “The Trial Day 2” a dramatic score highlight as Joan is again interrogated. Her frustration erupts on the Faith Theme on a crescendo of pain at 1:57:11 when she is told she must either accept the Church and reject the voices, or accept the voices and reject the church. As she is besieged by dozens of rapid-fire questions she reels under the pressure, which Friedhofer supports with horns dramatico ushering in a powerful iteration of the Faith Theme. Later in “Warwick and Chaucon” they conspire to first discredit Joan before burning her at the stake lest she become a martyr that will rally France. Music enters ominously with a trailing harp glissando at 1:58:55 as Warwick reminds Chaucon that the maid must burn at the stake for he to become archbishop of Rouen. At 1:59:00 we segue into “Joan Assaulted” atop a plaintive Faith Theme as Joan ponders her fate. At 1:59:14 tension enters and ushers in a crescendo of terror as the guard pushes himself up against her, and then man handles her when she rejects his sexual advances. The music becomes grotesque as he promises to remove her chains for sexual favors. We crest with horror at 1:59:58 as he forcibly tries to kiss her, only to be saved by the arrival of Father Massieu. Dire horns support Massieu’s threat to report this and the guard’s departure. Strings sofferenza support the aftermath and the priest’s counsel that there is a way to save her by appealing to the Pope, which the court would have to permit. At 2:00:48 dire, strings of threat support an English official ordering the three priest advocates out of her cell.

In “The Trail Day 3” Joan appeals to the Pope, which by ecclesiastical law suspends the trial. Yet the Earl of Warwick intervenes and commands the trial to proceed under English law, not the Church’s, which causes an uproar, and fully exposes the trial as a sham. Jean, Bishop of Avranches steps up and then declares the trial a sham, Joan’s appeal to the Pope legally binding, and Bishop Chaucon a traitor to both France and the Church. Warwick’s attempts to prevent his departure are rebuffed and fail. At 2:03:57 we segue into “The Trial Day 4” as Joan walks with Father Massieu to trial supported by strings full of despair, and forlorn woodwinds as she takes solace in the beauty of spring. At 2:04:27 a dark pall of terror descends as Joan gasps at her entry into a torture chamber presided over by Bishop Chaucon and his lackies. An aggrieved Faith Theme carries her forward, rising with passion to support her refusal to deny her voices. At 2:05:48 Joan and the music both collapse in pain. Afterwards dire horns and strings of doom rise up as Chaucon informs Warwick that the court will conclude tomorrow morning at the cemetery of St. Ouen where Joan will either abjure or burn at the stake.

An ominous drum roll takes us into “The Trial Day 5” at 2:06:07. She is ordered to submit of be sentenced to death. The crowd roars with fury with the English faction yelling “Burn Her!” and the French shouting “Abjure!” At 2:08:26 music reenters with a molto tragico rendering of the Faith Theme as Joan stands and submits to the court rather than be burned. A cadence of death supports her signing the attestation. Strings solenne support with religious reverence as Bishop Chaucon receives the attestation. He relents on excommunication, but sentences her to life imprisonment in a church prison. At 2:11:10 we segue into “Reconciliation and Forgiveness”, a profound and very moving score highlight. Horns of doom and strings sofferenza resound as Joan is returned to an English prison with the guard who tried to rape her. Friedhofer drapes us with auras of despair as she lays chained in bed, alone and dejected. She begs God’s forgiveness for succumbing to her fear of burning alive. Slowly at 2:12:40 the shimmering refulgence of the Vision Theme arises, joined by angelic wordless women’s choir. As she lifts her head and says “You speak to me” ascending ethereal string harmonics support theophany. We close with her tears of joy and a profoundly moving solemn statement of the Faith Theme. At 2:14:04 dire horns resound as we segue into “Joan Sentenced to Death”. The inquisition court arrives, finds that she has not changed into women’s clothes and are angered when she declares her voices have returned and forgave her. At 2:16:11 she is condemned to death for heretical relapse, which is supported by a grim Faith Theme, and a final declaration by dire horns as she calls out to Bishop Chaucon and says “I die through you.”

At 2:16:36 we segue into “Joan’s Death/Finale” a glorious score highlight. Liturgical chants by men’s choir are answered by altar boy’s chants as they escort a priest in holy procession. At 2:17:34 as Joan worries about the pain, she must endure the shimmering ethereal radiance of the Vision Theme returns as she acknowledges the divine presence by kneeling in submission. At 2:18:33 the Faith Theme resounds powerfully on horns of doom as Joan is taken to the stake. Fortified by a cadence of death, which carries her to the massive pyre. She is led to the pilar, which is crowned with a sign declaring her a heretic, sorceress, blasphemer, idolatress and apostate. Friedhofer sow a rising tide of doom as she is bound to the pilar, countered by a forthright violin borne Faith Theme. At 2:21:48 muted trumpets resound and snare drums support the Chaucon’s order to the men to burn her. A vortex of strings commences and supports the slowly upsurging fire, which erupts in a dissonant cacophony as guards restrain the angry French mob. At 2:22:45 a refulgent Vision Theme alight with shimmering violins brilliante arise and support Father Massieu lament of this injustice, yet he takes solace that her holy martyrdom will long outlive her inquisitors. We conclude with solemn grandeur replete with angelic choir as Father Massieu bids this precious daughter of France to go to her eternal reward. As she succumbs to the flames a radiant statement of the Vision Theme ascends on violins brillante to the heavens where we see aloft divine rays of light radiating across the firmament, crowned by a final glorious reprise of the Faith Theme. Bravo!

I cannot offer my usual thank you to the album producers as remarkably, there is currently no bona fide CD recording of the complete score that is commercially available. This is for me completely baffling, and a totally unacceptable state of affairs, which needs to be rectified. Hugo Friedhofer was tasked with supporting a religious quest by a humble nineteen-year-old woman who had secured the mandate of Heaven. It was essential that his music speak to the Theophany of her visions, her faith in God, and the pursuit of her destiny. Friedhofer revealed mastery of his craft in capturing, and evoking these three components of the film’s narrative. In scene after scene, we experienced through his music, the wonderment of Theophany, the profoundly moving testaments of faith, and inspired unfoldment of Joan’s destiny. The most powerful and moving emotional drivers of the film were not physically manifest, yet Friedhofer was able capture the ineffable, and make us in the audience party to Joan’s spiritual experiences. In my judgment, the cinematic confluence achieved by Bergman’s superb acting, Friedhofer’s inspired music and Valentine’s sublime cinematography were profoundly moving, making a lasting indelible impression. Folks, I consider this score one of the greatest in Friedhofer’s canon, a gem of the Golden Age, and essential to lovers of film score art. It is completely unacceptable that a commercial issue of this score after 73 years is unavailable and I call upon the major labels to find the resources and means to address this as soon as possible. Until that time, I recommend you experience the score directly in film context. Ensure you have the 1080, 145-minute film version found on Amazon Prime Video, not the mutilated 100-minute version.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to a beautiful seven-minute suite; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDsgh5eMppQ

Track Listing:


Music composed by Hugo Friedhofer. Conducted by Lionel Newman. Orchestrations by Jerome Moross, Harold Byrns and Paul Dessau. Score produced by Hugo Friedhofer and Emil Newman.

  1. FilmFan14
    November 1, 2022 at 3:10 am

    Thank you for an extremely well-written review of one of my biggest holy grails. One note to add, initial roadshow screenings opened with this “Gothic Prelude,” which someone was kind enough to record some years ago. I hope Intrada eventually gets around to re-recording the full score (which they have expressed interest in doing)

  1. November 1, 2022 at 5:54 pm

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