THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
1956, Paramount, 220 min, USA, Dir: Cecil B. De Mille

"Let his name be stricken from every pillar and obelisk!" orders imperious pharaoh Yul Brynner, as favored son-turned-religious rebel Charlton Heston prepares to lead his people out of bondage in Egypt. Cecil B. De Mille’s glorious remake of his earlier 1923 TEN COMMANDMENTS emphasized the colossal spectacle of the biblical epic, but never downplayed the tremendous human emotions at the core of the story. (Look for Heston’s then-3-month-old son Fraser as the baby Moses in the bulrushes!) With Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Nina Foch and Vincent Price, and featuring striking VistaVision cinematography by Loyal Griggs (SHANE).


THE TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC
1962, Janus Films, 65 min, France, Dir: Robert Bresson

Bresson’s sparest and most inexorable film is taken entirely from the official transcripts of the trial of Joan of Arc - whom the director called “the most extraordinary person who ever lived” - and concentrates on her torment and humiliation. Dreyer’s THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC looks almost melodramatic next to TRIAL’s spartan gravity; the parched quality of Bresson’s rendering is indicated in its relative absence of water or fluids. “For the first time in film history, one feels that Joan was really burned.” - Richard Roud. In French with English subtitles.


LANCELOT DU LAC
1974, Gaumont, 85 min, France, Dir: Robert Bresson

Bresson’s dream project, a film he wanted to make for more than 20 years, LANCELOT DU LAC marked a new distillation in the master’s vision and style. The director predictably ignores the pageantry, magic and romance of the quest for the Holy Grail, concentrating instead on the demise of the chivalric codes and on the canonic knights’ spiritual anguish as they return “without the Grail, which is to say the absolute, God” (Bresson). The famous jousting sequence is “one of the most exciting action sequences in the history of cinema” (Jonathan Rosenbaum). In French with English subtitles.


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