Falconetti, Renée (1892–1946)

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Falconetti, Renée (1892–1946)

French actress and producer. Name variations: Renee Falconetti; Maria Falconetti. Born Renée Maria Falconetti in Sermano, Corsica, in 1892; died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1946.

Renée Falconetti, a celebrated French stage actress and producer, made a single film appearance in Carl Dreyer's silent masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc ) in 1927. Her performance was so outstanding that it earned her a place in the annals of film history. Dreyer's film, which condenses the trial, torture, and execution of the French saint into an intense 24-hour period, was based on actual trial records and shot in extreme close-ups against stark white backgrounds in order to enhance its psychological realism. To further increase the real-life effect, all of the actors performed without make-up. Falconetti, known for comedy roles, was a powerful Joan, revealing much of the character's anguish through her beautiful and expressive face. It was said that Dreyer bullied her unmercifully to draw out her performance. The actress died in Buenos Aires, where she had immigrated just before the outbreak of World War II.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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