Ingrid Bergman's Many Portrayals of Saint Joan of Arc

Ingrid praying before statue of Saint Joan of Arc at Reims 
Cathedral

Ingrid had a deep loved for Saint Joan of Arc from her early childhood. It is therefore, not surprising that Ingrid portrayed the life of this fascinating heroine and saint as many times as she did.

Maxwell Anderson's 1946 Play: Joan of Lorraine

The first time Ingrid Bergman portrayed Joan of Arc was in the 1946 Maxwell Anderson's Broadway production of his play "Joan of Lorraine." This play opened at the Alvin Theater on November 18, 1946. For her performance Ms. Bergman received the Antoinette Perry Award.

Joan pressures the Dauphin to go to Reims

THE STORY

Ingrid Bergman played the actress Mary Grey who had been assigned the title role in a production of Joan of Arc. Mary Grey arrives for rehearsals on an almost bare stage, where the action of the play takes place, primarily as a series of rehearsals, interspersed with scenes depicting the rise, triumph and fall of the Maid. These are acted against sparse backgrounds without costuming.

Joan pressures the Dauphin to go to Reims

In the play depicted during the rehearsal, Joan of Arc compromises with the court politicians. This seems unnatural, indeed unacceptable to Mary Grey. Rehearsals come to a stop when Mary Grey walks off the stage. However, she returns when she realizes that compromises on unimportant points can and must sometimes be made but not in the spiritual world.

Joan questions her mission

Many moving and climactic scenes from the life of Joan of Arc are depicted in scenes interspersed with the rehearsal activities and arguments set forth.

REVIEWS

Brooks Atkinson in the New York Times:

There is no doubt about the splendor of Ms. Bergman's acting. It fills the theater with unaccustomed radiance.... Since then her gifts have multiplied and prospered, and Ms. Bergman has brought into the theater a rare purity of spirit. Possibly Saint Joan of Arc is an ideal part for her - "clear and clean and honest," as one phrase in the play puts it....

Joan is reprimanded by King Charles VII

Richard Watts Jr. in the New York Post:

...she (Ms. Bergman) went quietly about the business of bringing that modest but stirring magic of hers to bear on Maxwell Anderson's moderately interesting new play about Joan of Arc.... She is not a remarkably brilliant actress in the technical sense, even though her final scenes are movingly played. What gives her the undoubted distinction she possesses is the strange and inescapable radiance, that quality of shining warmth which add a unique loveliness and an irresistible air of lyric simplicity to everything she does.

Joan at prayer

Louis Kronenberger in PM:

Ingrid Bergman...calls forth some of those adjectives that I long ago decided every critic could do very nicely without. She is radiant and enchanting - perhaps not as an actress but simply as a human being. She has a childlike gawkiness which is better than grace, and a beauty that has very little to do with being beautiful, and in a ‘spiritual' role like her present one, these things are seen at their best.

Joan in prison


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Virginia Frohlick
stjoan@nmia.com