Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc

Legendary, beloved and immortal actress Ingrid Bergman received her fourth Best Actress nomination for playing Joan of Arc, a young French girl destined to save France in the 1948 movie, Joan of Arc. Now, I'm pretty damn sure that Ingrid had the least chance to win out of the nominees as she was a previous winner (actually she won the award the soonest out of the group), she did not receive prestigeous awards for her performance and her movie was a financial flop plus the reviews were not very kind either.

Unfairly, in my humble opinion. Joan of Arc is a fair religious American movie, not worse than say The Song of Bernadette. The technical part of it is excellent (for its age at least) and the actors give quite good performances in it. José Ferrer got a nomination which might just have been deserved, however I did not find him to be good enough to win. Actually there are many more familiar faces in Joan of Arc, but again I have to say that the movie is all about the performance of the title character. Everything is done to help Ingrid Bergman show her talent and good qualities. Unsuccessfully, as we can notice by the opinions about this performance. People acknowledge it to a degree, but now it's totally forgotten and in the blogosphere she's not very popular either (to put it mildly).

Undeservedly, I may say and defintely not because Ingrid Bergman is one of my all-time favorite actresses. I can admit when she's not giving her usual self in movies like The Bell's of St Mary's, but now it's not the case. This performance of hers is treated like Joan of Arc back then: some people want to burn it, some love it, but unfortunately it's burned without a good reason. It's very important to mention that this movie is based on a Broadway play for which Ingrid won the Tony award. The main argument against her in this movie can be that she's too over-the-top and theatrical, which is partly true, however it's mainly because of the screenplay. It seemed to me as if the screenwriter (it was the playwright) was quite lazy to work and rather left everything as it was (which was a huge Broadway hit). Ingrid suffers from the exaggerated lines, but how can she deliver them if not like she did in the theatre? She was even able to hold herself back.

First of all, Ingrid Bergman had a magnetic presence which was able to elevate even the shallowest material. Whenever she's on-screen, you cannot take your eyes off her. Her beauty, grace (and most of all) talent shines through the film and fills you with positive feelings that some are not able to handle nowadays and that's why I think that she's a bit underrated. Personally, it did not really bother me that she was 33 despite the fact that Joan was only 19 at the time.

And we got to the difficult character of Joan of Arc: she's a naive, idealistic, deeply religious and most of all very SIMPLE and ORDINARY young girl. Begman excellently caught that Joan became enthusiastic and almost fanatic after leaving her old, simple life behind.Ingrid handled Joan with enormous respect and understanding, she could think like an illiterate peasant girl. She can understand much more with her heart and her soul. She was raised to serve the king and above all, God and she does everything possible the achieve her goal, or if you like it that way, destiny.

Joan is very uneducated, but far from being stupid or silly. She undestands other simple people and Bergman perfectly portrayed her almost angelic nature, which can easily be annoying for nowadays' people. And now we got back to the huge criticsm: overacting and being theatrical. In my humble opinion, the decision Ingrid made, was a wise one. She may be more popular had she been subtler, but she chose this and I'm grateful for that even though it was certainly a bit much sometimes.

After Helen Mirren in The Last Station, there's another unpopular and not talked about performance that I was impressed by. Her last huge scene left a huge impact on me and I simply loved her when she was expressing her doubts and saying her prayers. You can hate Ingrid in this, you can hate me for this, but it doesn't change anything. Rating is not easy however. I could give a five, but that would be a bit much and I could give less, but I would feel it's not enough. It's a great and forgotten performance of a true legend, .
So what do you think my ranking will look like? Are you saying "What a Surprise!" theEllen Burstyn was or are you happy for Ingrid? Tell me, don't be shy. To watch a bit edited version of the movie click here.


Louis Morgan said...

Surprising certainly threw off my predictions. I be back in few hours to tell you if I am Ellen Burstyn surprised or just normally surprised since your opinion is so different from others.

1. Jane Wyman
2. Ingrid Bergman
3. Barbra Stanwyck
4. Olivia De Havilland
5. Irene Dunne

joe burns said...

I have the same predictions as Louis, I wonder how you will rate her in other years.

Louis Morgan said...

Well I watched her. I thought she really over did it in the beginning which would have been okay if she was believable but she is not. In the battle scenes she just seems awkward and again not believable. As the film went on she got a little better, she remained always over the top but she became a little more believable. She never became great in my opinion though. She has her presence which is always nice to a degree but her acting here is not in top form.