L.A. Master Chorale opens season with 'Passion of Joan of Arc' pairing

 L.A. Master Chorale opens season with 'Passion of Joan of Arc' pairing
New stills will enhance the viewing of 1928's "The Passion of Joan of Arc," with music for the silent film provided by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. (Rudolf Mate / Courtesy of Diane Lapworth)

"The Passion of Joan of Arc" is widely regarded as one of the most influential films ever made.

The silent film, released to popular acclaim in 1928, was directed by Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer and stars French stage actress Renée Jeanne Falconetti in one of her few celluloid appearances. The film is notable for its poignant close-ups, many of which feature a defiant and tearful Falconetti in what New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael wrote "may be the finest performance ever recorded on film."


The original copy of the film was believed to have been destroyed in a fire but was discovered in 1981 in the janitor's closet of a mental institution in Oslo, Norway.

Until recently, the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, which houses the research and reference collection of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, possessed only a few production stills from the historic shoot. That changed last month when Diane Lapworth, the daughter-in-law of the film's production manager, Charles Lapworth, remembered that in 1951 Charles had willed her 42 photos, which she had stashed away in her Brentwood closet.

She dusted them off just in time to make them available for discussion before the Los Angeles Master Chorale's season-opening concert Sunday. The performance will feature a screening of "The Passion of Joan of Arc" accompanied by a live performance of Richard Einhorn's 1994 score, "Voices of Light," which was inspired by the film.

The photos, which Lapworth has donated to the academy, are rare archival documents that likely exist only in such numbers at film institutes in Denmark and France. "As a result of Ms. Lapworth's generosity, students, scholars and researchers from all over the world will have access to these prints," said Matt Severson, the academy's photographic curator.

Twitter: @jessicagelt


'Voices of Light'

What: Los Angeles Master Chorale performs Richard Einhorn's 1994 score accompanied by a screening of "The Passion of Joan of Arc"

When: "Listen Up!" pre-concert talk at 6 p.m., concert at 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.

Tickets: $24 to $74

Info: (213) 972-7282,