Messenger, The: The Story of Joan of Arc

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Born a peasant girl in Domremy, France around 1412, Joan (Milla Jovovich) grew up during the Hundred Years War between France and England. At the age of thirteen, Joan hides in the cupboard as her village is ravaged by the English and sees her sister raped and murdered. As she later spends time in prayer, Joan begins to see visions and hear voices, telling her that she will restore the kingdom of France to its rightful heir, the Dauphin Charles (John Malkovich). Church mystics had foretold of a maid who would save France with her miracles. But to do so, Joan must garner the respect and support of not only the Dauphin, but his army also. Wearing the garb and weapons of war and in the name of the King of Heaven, she leads a beleaguered French army to victory against the English invaders. But national victory soon turns to personal torment. Betrayed by her own countrymen, Joan is captured, imprisoned and convicted of heresy in England. At the age of 19, shes burned at the stake as a witch. THE MESSENGER is an exceptional film, with aspects of both historical accuracy and creative inspiration. Akin to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, however, it delivers a powerful message in a graphically violent package.

Joans unwavering determination to accomplish her mission is nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially since she gives all glory to God. However, gory scenes of slaughter, battles, and beheadings will be hard for many to watch. The raping of Joans sister is particularly disgusting as the soldier kills her first and then rapes her. Exceedingly violent hand-to-hand combat features various body parts hacked to pieces. Blood runs throughout, including images of Christ bleeding profusely from the head and face. And although Joan rebukes them for it, soldiers use vulgar language, including the f-word at least 13 times - used, by the way, in historically inaccurate context. Websters Dictionary traces this Dutch-originated word back to the 1500s. It is unlikely the word would have been widely used in France, if at all, in the early 1400s. While Joans faith is treated reverently, standing in sharp contrast to the barbarism of the day, THE MESSENGER goes too far with extreme, graphic violence and historically inaccurate, distasteful uses of foul language.

Preview Reviewer: Cliff McNeely
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232, (310)280-8000

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (9) times - Mild 3, Moderate 6

Obscene Language: Many (13) times (f-word)

Profanity: Several (5) times All Regular (GD 3, JC 1, G knows 1)

Violence: Many times-graphic and severe (village burned, innocents slaughtered, woman killed/raped, wolves eat human flesh, bloody hand-to-hand combat, heads/arms/legs hacked off, wounds spurt blood, bloody image of Christ, disgusting images of dead bodies, woman burned at stake-flesh shown burning)

Sex: Once (Disgusting scene of woman raped after being killed)

Nudity: None; Near Nudity: Twice (womans clothes ripped before rape, couple in bath together)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (crude comments and advances by soldiers, f-word in sexual context, couple in bath together)

Drugs: Few times (wine at meals, girls drinks Eucharist wine)

Other: Girls faith treated reverently, historical treatment of legendary French heroine, f-word used in historically inaccurate context

Running Time: 141 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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