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"THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC"
(1999) (Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Extreme Extreme Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor Minor Extreme None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate None Mild Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young French woman, believing herself to be a messenger of God, tries to drive the English from her homeland during the 15th century.
PLOT:
It's the early 15th century and the English rule much of France during the bloody Hundred Years' War. Charles VII (JOHN MALKOVICH) of France will not abandon the kingdom that his rightly his, but realizes he can't be crowned king until the English are driven from Rheims.

He gets his chance when he receives a message that he's to be visited by a young woman who claims to be a messenger from God sent to aid him and the French. She's Joan (MILLA JOVOVICH), a devoutly religious teenager who several years earlier witnessed the English sack her village and rape and kill her older sister. Having experienced various visions of God that included her finding a battle sword, Joan knows that her mission is to see that Charles is crowned king by driving the English from France.

While his aides discourage him from meeting this woman they believe to be a possible assassin, Charles' regal mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon (FAYE DUNAWAY), persuades him to. As such, Charles is impressed that the young woman is able to identify him from a large crowd despite his captain, Jean D'Aulon (DESMOND HARRINGTON), posing as him.

Believing that he might as well give Joan a shot, Charles sends her off to fight with his half-brother, Dunois (TCHEKY KARYO), a strategy-based officer who doesn't believe in Joan's more impulsive battle tactics. Nonetheless, Joan's efforts of leading the French result in victory after victory, her becoming a hero, and Charles eventually being crowned King of France.

Yet Charles soon loses interest in raging war and cuts off her military aide despite her continued efforts to drive the English from her homeland. Eventually captured and brought up on charges of heresy before an ecclesiastical court, Joan is taunted by visions of her Conscience (DUSTIN HOFFMAN), who makes her begin to question her previous visions and religious faith.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or directly with the story of Joan of Arc, it's probably highly unlikely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong graphic battles, a rape and some language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MILLA JOVOVICH plays the devoutly religious French teenager who believes herself to be a messenger from God who must help the dauphin become king and drive the English from her homeland. As such, she often throws caution to the wind when launching her attacks and motivating her fellow soldiers. She also acts somewhat crazy at least some of the time, suggesting something of a mental imbalance.
  • JOHN MALKOVICH plays the dauphin and then later King of France who withdraws his support of Joan's crusade after he becomes king and no longer needs her.
  • FAYE DUNAWAY plays the king's mother-in-law and trusted advisor.
  • TCHEKY KARYO plays the king's half-brother and military strategist who isn't happy being teamed with Joan and her random battle plans.
  • DUSTIN HOFFMAN plays the physical embodiment of Joan's conscience who questions her visions and beliefs.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. With many vicious battle scenes, violence is rated as extreme with people being wounded, killed and/or dismembered in various fashions, often with extremely bloody and/or gory results. Other non-lethal violence also occurs, while a woman is raped early in the picture.

    Those scenes and others may prove to be unsettling and/or suspenseful to some viewers and show the bad attitudes of those involved. Profanity is rated as extreme due to the use of more than 10 "f" words, while a handful of other words and colorful phrases are also present.

    Some sexual movement and sounds are heard/seen during the aforementioned rape, while a brief scene shows Joan lying nude on the ground covered only by some leaves in strategic places. While it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, should you still be concerned about its appropriateness for them, yourself or anyone else in your home, we strongly suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Joan runs into an empty church and drinks the communion wine (for the first time and only to be closer to God).
  • Charles drinks from a goblet while being bathed.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see some wolves biting and pulling bloody flesh from dead or injured people.
  • After a soldier runs a sword through Joan's sister, blood runs from her mouth and we see the other end of the bloody sword that's gone through her and a closet door.
  • Soldiers in a battle are bloody in varying degrees.
  • More wounded or killed soldiers in another battle are bloody, including one where a rotating defensive apparatus decapitates someone and blood squirts out.
  • Joan's face is a little bloody and we see blood on an arrow sticking out from her chest. When she yanks out the arrow, a great deal of blood flows and squirts out from the wound.
  • People are bloody during another battle and that includes sights of an arm being severed (with blood squirting out), another with his leg cut off, and a person being decapitated (with similar results).
  • Jean pulls an arrow from his arm and blood comes out.
  • Joan has a vision of a man with progressively greater amounts of blood running down his face.
  • After a battle, Joan's face and those of others are very bloody. We also see many dead and bloody bodies, as well as severed body parts (including a head, arm and foot). We also see birds picking bloody flesh off dead bodies.
  • A Frenchman puts an Englishman's head onto a blood-soaked stump (where others have obviously met their demise), preparing to smash the man's head with a club.
  • We see various views of people with very rotten teeth.
  • During another battle we see that Joan has an arrow sticking out of her leg, with some blood running down from it.
  • A person's throat is slit in another battle scene and blood runs out of the wound.
  • We see another vision of a man with blood running from him.
  • Joan's somewhat bloody after being repeatedly hit and kicked in prison.
  • We see a body being engulfed by flames and then a close-up of the face completely on fire.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The English and French obviously have extreme cases of both toward each other (with the former having invaded the country of the latter).
  • Spotting Joan's sister, an English soldier lecherously comments, "Now that's what I call booty." He then proceeds to run a sword through her before raping her and when finished, tells his comrades, "Your turn now."
  • Many men belittle Joan and her plans since she's a woman (although this was probably common in the early 15th century).
  • Charles pulls his military and financial support from Joan just when she needs it the most and then doesn't help her once she's captured.
  • Members of an ecclesiastical court lie to Joan about her being saved by confessing to her errant ways.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Battle scenes listed under "Violence" and the results listed under "Blood/Gore" may be suspenseful and/or unsettling for some viewers (including one where Joan rips an arrow from her chest with bloody results).
  • As a child, Joan has odd and eerie visions (accompanied by ominous music) of clouds rolling by, a boy sitting outside in a stone chair starring at her in an eerie fashion, etc... She then suddenly wakes up in a different area and odd things briefly race across the sky. A wolf and then many more approach, but then only run by her.
  • Joan runs to her home village and sees that the English are torching it (and we hear people screaming). She then runs home where her older sister hides her in a closet where she then sees some English soldiers accost her sister. The sister tries to hit one of them with a sword but he grabs her, and rips open her shirt while kissing her. She then slaps him and in turn he slams her back against a closet door, lifts her from the floor by her neck and then runs a sword through her body. He then proceeds to rape her up against the door.
  • As Joan recounts her reasons for meeting Charles, we see more of those odd and eerie visions of the strange boy staring at her, etc...
  • Joan has more of those strange visions, this time set at night with her holding a torch and running down some sort of tunnel and ending up back at the rape scene of her older sister.
  • A Frenchman puts an Englishman's head onto a blood-soaked stump (where others have obviously met their demise), preparing to smash the man's head with a club.
  • The English burn Joan at the stake (which we see from the flames first nipping at her bare feet to them completely engulfing her).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Arrows (regular and flaming)/Knives/Swords/Ball & Chain/Boiling oil/Huge stone balls/Catapult-fired balls: Used to threaten, wound or kill people or destroy property. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Go f*ck yourself," "Bitch," "Whore," "Go to hell" and "Nuts" (crazy).
  • Joan cuts her long hair with her sword.
  • Some kids may want to imitate all of the medieval fighting and swordplay.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • As Joan goes around the corner of a house in her town, a soldier on horseback nearly runs her over.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful, ominous and foreboding music plays throughout the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 12 "f" words, 4 damns, 3 hells, and 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ" and "For Christ's sakes" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • As an English soldier rapes Joan's older sister, we see the top of her bare breasts as well as a close-up of the man's face showing his thrusting movements as well as him climaxing (including related sounds).
  • We see Charles in a tub with a young woman being bathed by others, but don't see any nudity.
  • We see a brief image of Joan lying nude on the ground with only a few leaves covering up key body parts.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Joan witnesses her older sister be raped and killed and is then forced to go off and live with her aunt and uncle. However, she runs away rather quickly after getting there.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of the story.
  • Whether Joan saw God and was His messenger, or simply suffered from some sort of delusional psychosis.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Joan runs to her home village and sees that the English are torching it (and we hear people screaming and see dead or injured villagers).
  • She then runs home where her older sister hides her in a closet where she then sees some English soldiers accost her sister. The sister tries to hit one of them with a sword but he grabs her, and rips open her shirt while kissing her. She then slaps him and in turn he slams her back against a closet door, lifts her from the floor by her neck and then runs a sword through her body. He then proceeds to rape her up against the door.
  • Several of Charles' bodyguards hold knives to Joan's throat when she approaches him and they believe her to be a possible assassin.
  • The French fire large stone/iron balls via a catapult into an English stronghold, destroying levels of flooring.
  • Joan punches a man.
  • We see a battle scene where the French and English fight with people being punched, hit with swords and mallets. Others are stomped down on and have swords run through them.
  • More fighting then occurs with people being hit, smashed and cut with knives and swords (with many being wounded or killed).
  • During another battle, the English drop boulder-sized balls down through chutes that then lead to the outside of their fort where they smash into the French where the impact blasts them backwards, injuring or killing them. Others have their tall ladders pushed over while flaming arrows are fired into the fortress. More people are hit with swords and smashed with the huge balls. A rotating defensive apparatus then decapitates someone and blood squirts out.
  • A soldier fires an arrow that pierces Joan's protective garb and seriously injures her. When she later yanks out the arrow, a great deal of blood flows and squirts out from the wound.
  • Soldiers are crushed by a large falling gate. More fighting then follows with people being hit, knifed, and smashed with other weapons. We also see an arm being severed, people being run through with swords, hits with arrows, another person being decapitated, and another with his leg being cut off (all with bloody results). The French shoot flaming arrows into this fort, while the English retaliate with a machine that fires many arrows at once, hitting and wounding or killing many French soldiers.
  • Jean takes an arrow to protect Joan and then pulls it from his arm.
  • The French break down a door with a burning battering ram, but then have boiling oil poured down onto them and more people are wounded or killed.
  • A Frenchman puts an Englishman's head onto a blood-soaked stump (where others have obviously met their demise), preparing to smash the man's head with a club.
  • During another battle we see that Joan has an arrow sticking out of her leg.
  • A person's throat is slit in another battle scene, while another person is run through with a sword.
  • Joan's conscience smacks her and we then see that it's really a prison guard smacking her.
  • We see the vision of a person being shot in the back with an arrow.
  • We see people repeatedly kicking and hitting Joan on a prison floor. Later, guards punch Joan and tear of part of her clothes (but not to rape her).
  • Joan is burned alive at the stake.



  • Reviewed November 8, 1999 / Posted November 12, 1999

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