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A Cinematic Opera: Johanna

"An astonishing coup de cinema." --Hollywood Reporter A truly unique film, Johanna is a modern retelling of the Joan of Arc legend— and an original opera. Composer Zsófia Tallér’s ...

"An astonishing coup de cinema." --Hollywood Reporter

A truly unique film, Johanna is a modern retelling of the Joan of Arc legend— and an original opera. Composer Zsófia Tallér’s score, written especially for the film, is probably the first ever opera written solely for the big screen.

“The subject matter demanded a monumental form. We found it in the genre of opera. It was a challenge to try a different approach to this old-fashioned genre, and to make a departure from the film cannon, at the same time,” says director Kornél Mundruczó.

Our modern-day Joan is a drug addict (played by the extraordinary Orsi Tóth), who sneaks into a Budapest hospital to steal morphine and subsequently overdoses. Brought back to life by a handsome young doctor (Zsolt Trill), Johanna soon discovers she now possess magical powers to heal the sick and dying.

Johanna stays on at the hospital, working as a nurse, but her methods of healing are unorthodox— to say the least— and the outraged hospital staff soon begin to plot her undoing.  

“We decided to be faithful to the original story of Joan of Arc, but to transpose it to a hospital setting. The doctors, like the priests who put Joan of Arc of trial, are the faces of power, and the patients are her followers,” says Mundruczó.

“We didn’t have to invent much; the original story of Joan of Arc comprises and conveys what we wanted. In one line- the justness of the ‘criminal’ and the crime of ‘justice’ enacted in song.”

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