Joan of Arc - Maid of Heaven

Reviews of Books, Movies and Music about Saint Joan of Arc

In the nearly 600 years since Saint Joan of Arc died there have been a great number of books written about her life. There have also been quite a few movies that have tried to portray her. While all of these books and movies claim to be about Saint Joan there are vast differences in the way that her story has been told. It has always intrigued me as to why there are such differences because her life is the best documented of anyone not from modern times. I suspect that the inaccurate portrayals that have been produced are either the result of poor research or the personal agendas of the biographers. Whatever the reason, it means that anyone wanting to learn about Saint Joan of Arc must be discriminating when reading or viewing the books and movies that are available.

In order to try to assist you in finding good books and movies I am going to provide some reviews of the ones I am familiar with. I prefer books and movies that are historically accurate and stay true to who Saint Joan appears to have been based upon her own documented words and actions. Keep in mind that these reviews are only my opinion and I have not read every book or seen every movie. If I do not include a book or movie it either means I have not read or seen it yet or have not had time to write a review yet. I do include some reviews from third parties under OTHER REVIEWS that seem fair and honest but if I was more familiar with the work I would write a review myself so be your own judge as to their accuracy.


Please visit the separate MAID OF HEAVEN REVIEWS page to read reviews from a wide range of people including experts on Joan of Arc and professional book reviewers. Maid of Heven: The Story of Saint Joan of Arc has recieved praise from readers all over the world and this page includes many examples of the kind of praise that this book has received.

Saint Joan speaks for herself in this great biography!
This is one of my favorite biographies about Saint Joan of Arc because it relies so heavily upon the actual quotes of Saint Joan and her contemporaries. Instead of writing a traditional narrative, Régine Pernoud cleverly uses Joan's own words or those of the people around her to give us her history. Tracing Joan's life from beginning to end, Pernoud relies on Joan's quotes as much as she can. She does add just enough narrative to keep the biography coherent but by using Joan's own words, we are able to get a sense of what her personality was like. As the title proclaims, this biography is really written by Saint Joan and her witnesses.

This biography is a great choice for both new students of Saint Joan of Arc as well those already familiar with her story. Régine Pernoud was considered to be one of the great authorities on medieval history and Joan of Arc. She spent her life researching Joan of Arc and being French she was able to utilize all of the original source materials that still exist. Her writing style is straightforward and honest and, most importantly, made heavy use of historical documentation.

The one problem I have with this biography is that it is a little tough to read in places. I think the problem comes from it being a translation. The old phrase "loses something in translation" comes to mind. That said if you can get though the dry parts you will have a great understanding of Saint Joan's life as well as some idea about the people in which she interacted during her life. If you read this book and Pernoud's other great biography, Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses, you should come away knowing most of the known history of Saint Joan of Arc.

The master storyteller, Mark Twain, used his immense talent to create this fictionalized account of Saint Joan's life. Even though it is fiction, it is still very historically accurate and stays true to the story of Saint Joan of Arc. Because it is fiction, Twain is able to bring out Saint Joan's personality in a way that reminds us that she was a beautiful, vibrant, passionate young woman who sacrificed everything to serve God and save her country

I think the very fact that Twain would even choose to write a biography about Saint Joan is a further testament to her greatness. Twain was personal friends with U.S. Grant and could much more easily have written a biography about him. He also lived at a time when some of the greatest military leaders ever lived like Lee, Jackson, etc., so if all he had been looking for was a famous military leader he could have also chosen one of them. Obviously, he was looking for someone even greater to write about. I think his own words probably explain why he chose Saint Joan when he said that: "She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history."

Whether you are a Saint Joan devotee or not I think you will enjoy reading this book. It is well written and easy to read and covers one of the greatest stories in world history. If you already know about the life of Saint Joan, I also think you will end up loving this account because of the way Twain brings her to life. Definitely one of the best of all the biographies written about Saint Joan of Arc and considered by Twain himself to be his greatest work. Click Here to Read Mark Twain's Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc online at

Click Here to Read AB Paine's Review of Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

This is my favorite biography out of all that I have read about St. Joan because it is both well-written and well-researched which is a rare combination. I think I pay the author a great compliment in saying that this biography reminds me a lot of other biographies I have read by the legendary biographer Douglass Southall Freeman. What reminds me of the Freeman biographies is the style of writing that is sympathetic to the subject but also fair and contains great historical documentation for the conclusions that are drawn.

The author, Albert Bigelow Paine, was a distinguished writer of the late 19th and early 20th century. He worked for and with Mark Twain and is probably best known for his authorized biography of Mark Twain. He also served on the Pulitzer Prize Committee for many years until his death in 1937. Paine wrote two books about St. Joan of Arc the other being The Girl in White Armor. He was awarded the decoration of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor by the French Government for his work on Joan.

Paine explains in the forward to this biography that it was when he first read Mark Twain's biography about Joan that she "emerged from a land of myth and fable to become a reality." Paine then felt compelled to follow the footsteps of Joan and spent four years in France researching the original French documents in preparation to his writing. Paine's approach in using the actual quotes of Joan and her contemporaries as much as possible was way ahead of his time. Paine's own words at the end of the forward aptly summarize this great biography:
"The story of Joan is the wonder tale of the ages and needs little embellishment. The facts alone are marvelous enough. My effort has been to present them, without bias and without neglect."

This book is, as the title implies, an examination of Joan of Arc's inner spiritual life. The author, George H. Tavard, was a Roman Catholic Priest and a respected professor of theology at Mount Mercy College. Being Catholic and from the same part of France as Joan of Arc, Father Tavard provides excellent insights into the practice of religion in the medieval times in which Joan of Arc lived. Father Tavard expertly explains the complicated relationship between the Church and the government and how this affected the people and their approach to God. Father Tavard also examines Joan's deep love and trust in God that was well documented in her life's actions and in the responses she gave at her trial. This book is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to better understand both Joan of Arc's spirituality and her relationship to the Church that burned her and then a few years later overturned her trial and ultimately proclaimed her a Saint.

Joan of Arc's last words were "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" as she was overcome by the flames and died. Anyone who has seriously studied her life knows that serving Jesus, her God, was her primary mission in life. Chris Snidow has created a wonderful book that explains Saint Joan's life in reference to Jesus and the Bible. Chris has done an amazing amount of research about Joan and how her life closely resembles other prophets of the Bible like Moses, Abraham, Paul and even Jesus.

I highly recommend this book as one that everyone should read who is serious about learning the truth about Joan's true motivation. There are many biographies that cover the life of Joan of Arc but Chris's approach is unique in that he focuses on explaining HOW Joan of Arc was able to do what she did. Joan of Arc and the God of the Bible is well written and flows easily along in the 15 chapters that include:
1. Joan of Arc - "Daughter of God"
2. The God of the Bible
3. What Time is It?
4. The Call
5. Prayer is the Center Post
6. The Sign
7. A Lifelong Pilgrimage
8. Obedience (Blessed Cussedness)
9. Persecution
10. A Warrior God?
11. Prophecy and Miracles?
12. "If you love me..."
13. Joan's France?
14. Summary Review
15. God is Gracious
Each chapter is highly documented with appropriate scripture references to support Chris's conclusions. In the final analysis, this book is as much about God as it is about Joan of Arc, which is exactly how it should be since Saint Joan of Arc is truly "a shining star that points the way to the Father of all light."

This is a well-researched and well-written biography by one of Scotland’s greatest historians and writers. Andrew Lang extensively researched the life of St. Joan of Arc and was especially interested in the part played by Scottish soldiers in aiding Joan and France. In addition to The Maid Of France, Lang also wrote Monk of Fife, a fictionalized account of a Scottish soldier in Joan’s army, as well as The Voices of Jeanne d’Arc, which was an essay discussing the historical inaccuracies of Shakespeare’s Henry VI., part I, and the true nature and impact of Joan's Voices.

The Maid Of France covers the entire life and death of St. Joan of Arc and will give anyone previously unfamiliar with Joan of Arc a good overall understanding of her life and history. The big asset in this particular biography is Lang’s perspicuity in dissecting and analyzing some of the more controversial aspects of Joan’s history. For example, I thought his analysis of whether or not Joan had foresight in regard to her capture to be very well done. As opposed to her many other predictions that were documented by the testimony of others she apparently told no one that she had been informed by her Voices that she was to be captured soon. Lang presents tangible evidence in Joan’s actions just prior to her capture that corroborate her later statements at her trial that she did know in advance that she was to be captured.

The author of this excellent novel about St. Joan of Arc, Virginia Frohlick, is also the creator of the large online website The Saint Joan of Arc Center which is a veritable treasure trove of information about St. Joan. This book reminds me a lot of her website in that it is the most detailed account of St Joan that I think I have ever read containing virtually everything you could ever want to know about St. Joan. The part I like the best about this novel is the focus which is St. Joan’s great love for God. In fact I think Virginia could easily add the subtitle: The Beautiful Story of Joan of Arc’s Great Love for God. I am sure that St. Joan herself is very pleased with all the detailed information about her faith and love for God in this book which is the highest praise I can possible give to any book about St. Joan. I therefore highly recommend this book as one that everyone simple must read in order to really know who the young woman was that history refers to as Joan of Arc.

THE SAINT AND THE DEVIL - Joan of Arc and Giles de Rais: A Biographical Study in Good and Evil by FRANCES WINWAR
This book was one of the first full biographies I read years ago about St. Joan of Arc and it is still one of the best I have ever read because of the incredible detail that it contains about St. Joan and the times in which she lived. This book actually contains two biographies contrasted against each other which is what the title refers to with Joan of Arc as the Saint and Giles de Rais as the Devil. The author Frances Winwar must have done a tremendous amount of research not only on Joan of Arc and Giles de Rais but also on the medieval age in which they lived to have been able to provide so much detail as she tells their life stories. All this detail greatly helps the reader to really understand how miraculous it was for a simple peasant girl from a tiny town to suddenly rise to greatness leading the rough medieval soldiers of France to victory after victory against huge odds. The striking contrast between St Joan and Giles de Rais just makes St. Joan stand out that much more as the “Saint” of God that she had to have been to have been able to perform such spectacular deeds. Overall an easy read that makes a huge impact upon you as you absorb all the exquisite details about St. Joan of Arc and her times.

Because of the brilliance of St. Joan of Arc’s life it is easy to forget the many soldiers who fought with Joan who were themselves unique and fascinating people and who helped Joan to accomplish the amazing military feats that she performed. One of her captains that is near and dear to my own heart was a Scot named Hugh Kennedy. Hugh was a knight who fought with Joan at all of her great victories and was present at the coronation of Charles VII but little more than that is found in most of the history books on Joan of Arc. I always wanted to know more about Hugh so I was thrilled when author Jean Brittain, from Hugh’s hometown in Scotland, contacted me several years ago while she was doing research for a biography about Hugh Kennedy. Jean gave me some fascinating details about this captain of Joan’s who many have said was her most loyal captain. Jean was even gracious enough then to write a short biography about Hugh that is posted at HERE that further wetted my appetite to know more about this extraordinary man. Now finally Jean gives us all the details about Hugh in an in-depth biography she has titled Hugh Kennedy of Ardstinchar: Joan of Arc’s Scottish Captain which I highly recommend to everyone interested in Joan of Arc as a way to more fully understand all the details of Joan’s life.

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This is a well-done documentary that gives a good overview of the life of Saint Joan of Arc. If you do not know much about the life of Saint Joan this is a good place to start and will teach you the highlights of her life. Even if you already know her story, you will still probably enjoy it as I did. I especially liked the French accents and the way they refer to her as she was called in her native tongue: Jehanne. They also did a good job in choosing an actress that fits the historical descriptions of Saint Joan. Most importantly, unlike so many modern books and films, this one does not try to explain her life apart from God and her supernatural Voices. There are some minor historical mistakes like what caused her capture (it was a drawbridge raised not gates closed), but overall a good docudrama that most will enjoy.

JOAN OF ARC starring Ingrid Bergman
This 1948 movie about Joan of Arc is my favorite out of all the Joan of Arc movies because it stays closest to the established history. I especially like the way they incorporated so many of Joan's most famous quotes into the script. Is it perfect, no, but then the perfect movie about Saint Joan has yet to be made and this one at least tries to stay close to the true story of Joan of Arc.

The movie was made by several of Hollywood's heavyweights of the era with Walter Wanger as the producer and Victor Fleming as the director. It was the intention of both men to create a large epic film similar to Fleming's blockbuster success Gone with the Wind. Both men felt they had succeeded, however, circumstances surrounding the personal life of Ingrid Bergman seem to have sunk the film both commercially and in the Academy Awards. Walter Wanger refused an honorary Oscar for Joan of Arc because he felt the film should have at least been nominated for best picture.
Go Here for more commentary about the commercial problems with 1948 Joan of Arc

Despite being in her thirties when the movie was made, Ingrid Bergman delivers a passionate and convincing performance as Saint Joan. Some have claimed that she was too beautiful to have played Joan, however, it was the ugliness of her personal life and therefore the lack of complete beauty that Saint Joan herself possessed that caused the movie to not receive the acclaim it deserved.

The movie itself covers the entire life of Joan of Arc from the time when she first heard the call of God to her last words as she died at the stake. The only real deviation from history occurs in the middle after the crowning of Charles VII. They apparently used some poetic license to try to shorten the story and combine some events to jump forward to Joan's capture and trial. All in all, it is a very good movie that both those with, and without, prior knowledge of the life of Joan of Arc should enjoy viewing. Most people are pleasantly surprised since they have never seen this movie listed among Hollywood's best classic films and are unaware of its quality.

To see some Screenshots from 1948 Joan of Arc movie click here

NOTE: Make sure you obtain the full 146 minute film as there as many shorter versions available.

JOAN OF ARC 1999 TV Movie
Leelee Sobieski shines in this movie with poor historical accuracy. The overall history is not the problem because the movie does correctly tell the story of a young woman who hears Voices from God and leads her people to freedom through military victory and is then captured by the enemy, put on trial and burned. The problem is in the details because in virtually every scene there are blatant errors ranging from having Joan first hear Voices in a church (it was actually her father's garden) to what is the worst for me in showing Pierre Cauchon as the advisor to Charles VII in the French court.

Thankfully, the performance of Leelee is so good that the historical problems do not seem as bad as they really are. She portrays Joan as a strong, passionate, caring young woman with a great devotion to God. She also brings an innocence and purity to the role that greatly contribute to her overall believability. Out of all the Joan of Arc movies I have seen, Leelee Sobieski's portrayal of Joan is definitely the most authentic. It is just a shame that the rest of the movie does not measure up to her fine performance.

The Passion of Joan of Arc is a great old silent film about the trial and execution of Saint Joan of Arc. Made in 1928 by Carl Dryer the film is considered one of the greatest films ever made. The centerpiece is the superb performance by the lead actress Renee Falconetti. The title "Passion" perfectly describes her performance as she totally immerses herself in the role of Joan. The historical accuracy is very good but some poetic license is used which can be forgiven when the resulting production stays so true to the story as this one does. The original does contain French subtitles so you will need to either read French or be very familiar with the story to understand everything. You can get a version that has English subtitles from Amazon. The Amazon version also contains a recent musical soundtrack by Richard Einhorn titled Voices of Light that is very good. On Richard Einhorn's website you can read a good review he wrote about The Passion of Joan of Arc as well as his desctiption of how and why he created his musical composition. Click Here to Read Richard Einhorn's review
You can find the original version of The Passion of Joan of Arc online several places where you can watch it for free such as the site below:
Watch The Passion of Joan of Arc

I do not recommend anyone watch The Messenger until they have a compete understanding of the real history of Saint Joan of Arc and by then most people will be like me and not be able to watch this movie. I tried to watch it again to write this review but I could not make it through to the end. Simple put, the Joan portrayed in the The Messenger bares little resemblance to the Joan I have come to know and love from studying her real history and from reading the actual words that she spoke. I could write a long review detailing all the historical problems but instead I will provide links to several excellent reviews the first by Ron Maxwell, a movie producer renowned for his historically accurate movies like Gettysburg and God's and Generals:
Read Ron Maxwell's review of The Messenger

The second is at Christian Spotlight on Entertainment and includes many comments by viewers of this movie:
Read Review with Numerous Viewer Comments

Here is another good review by Beth Armitage of explaining why the movie fails cinematically:
Read Beth Armitage's review of The Messenger

One more that accurately summarizes the Messenger as: "A crass and interminable movie that miraculously transforms one of the most remarkable women of the 15th century into an irritating brat."
Read Review at TheGuardian Newspaper

Television series that ran for two plus seasons that featured a young woman named Joan who talked to God. The series is entertaining and challenges you to think about some of the deeper issues of life and God however there is little about Joan of Arc other than the name of the series. The only episode I saw that contained any real history about Joan of Arc was one titled "Saint Joan" that involves a history teacher who is covering the battle of Agincourt and briefly mentions Joan of Arc and her part in saving France. The episode relates the way Joan in the series saves the teacher to the way Joan of Arc saved the King of France. You can watch this episode on the Joan of Arcadia page.

is a movie about a young women who admires St. Joan of Arc and who is very devout and has made a commitment to remain a virgin until she marries her true love. This is a surprisingly good film that intertwines some of the major themes of St. Joan of Arc's life into the main characters life and is sure to entertain and inspire anyone with a passion for Joan of Arc.


Click For More Info on The Daughter of God CD JOAN OF ARC: DAUGHTER OF GOD CD
If you have read Maid of Heaven or spent much time here at the website then you probably realize how much I love Saint Joan's own quotes. I believe that the best way to learn who Saint Joan really was is to study her own words. Chris Snidow has created a wonderful way to do this by combining quotes from Saint Joan of Arc with his inspiring instrumental music. Each musical tract is preceded by a famous quote by Saint Joan read beautifully in her native language. The accompanying booklet gives the quote in English along with biblical references and the historical context of certain quotes. The music fits each quote perfectly and facilitates a deeper contemplation of Joan's words. Listening to Saint Joan's quotes this way is a very unique and satisfying experience that I know everyone interested in learning more about Joan of Arc will enjoy as much as I did. Well done Chris.

Click For More Info on Joan of Arc an Opera in Three Acts JOAN OF ARC: AN OPERA IN THREE ACTS
If you enjoy opera then I definitely think you will enjoy Steven Jobe’s new opera about St. Joan of Arc performed in three acts. Even if you are not an opera fan I think you will still enjoy the captivating music that Jobe intertwines with the story of Joan’s life. Many of the musical compositions reminded me more of modern musical theater than classical opera so if you like musicals like Les Miserables then you should greatly enjoy this musical version of Joan’s life. The three acts in this opera take you through Joan’s entire life story from the visions of her youth through her glorious military triumphs to her ultimate tragic end. The music compliments Joan’s history very well having a medieval religious tone in the beginning then a medieval military tone and ultimately a tragic tone to accompany the main themes of Joan’s life. I was personally moved by the inclusion of bagpipes which may seem out of place in a piece about Joan of Arc however most people are not aware of the huge role that Scottish soldiers played in Joan’s military success and that she was greeted by Scottish bagpipers playing a traditional Scottish military tune when she first entered Orleans. This is one example of the musical attention to detail by Steven Jobe that makes this opera a unique and special tribute to Joan of Arc the Maid of Orleans. If you have a chance to see this opera live then definitely go as it will only add to your understanding of St. Joan of Arc and her history. For more details visit the page online about this Joan of Arc Opera.

The following reviews are written by others. While they seem pretty fair and honest, as I said at the top of this page, if I was more familiar with the book or movie I would write a review myself so be your own judge as to their accuracy.

Read Review Here Excellent resource containing English translations of the re-trial records and there is a thorough review explaining why this book is such valuable resource for those wanting to learn the truth about Joan of Arc located at this link.

Read Review Here This is a new book about Joan of Arc released in October of 2011 that is a mixture of fiction and historical facts. The linked review is from the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Read Review Here This review by Lisa Marie Garcia is posted at Virginia Frohlick's wonderful site The Saint Joan of Arc Center. I know Virginia's devotion to telling the true story about Saint Joan so I know she would not have posted this review if it were not accurate. This review is negative but is pretty polite in it's criticism compared to some other feedback I have heard about this book.

Read Review Here This review by Irene Beaudry is posted at the SCHILLER INSTITUTE, a site dedicated to Friedrich Schiller the 18th-century German poet and playwright, "whose works have inspired republican opposition to oligarchic tyranny worldwide." Considering that the aim of this site, resistance to tyranny, is what Saint Joan's life symbolizes I have a certain confidence that this review is accurate. I am also impressed by the length and detail of this review.

Read Review Here Very detailed review by Larissa Juliet Taylor, a professor of history at Colby College, who is writing her own biography of Joan of Arc to be published in 2008.

Read Review Here by Juliet Barker is the first review I found on this new book and seems fair but I must add that I disagree with some of this reviewers opinions about the history of Joan of Arc starting with her intro "Neither Saint Nor Sinner" which is contrary to what everyone said who ever knew Joan because they all said she was a Saint. Watch C-Span Video with author Larissa J Taylor

Read Review Here Review by Sergio Mantovani that is well written and explains why Richey's biography about Joan of Arc is different from the many others that have been written.

JOAN OF ARC by Edward Lucie Smith
Read Review Here Review written in 1977 when the book was first published and contained in an issue of respected literary reviews magazine Kirkus that is now available to read online. This review seems fair and touches upon a problem by this author of misusing Freudian psychoanalytic theories on human sexuality to explain Joan's dress and motivations.

JOAN OF ARC by Josephine Poole
Read Review Here Review by explains the strengths of this book and why it is a good choice for young readers.

THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC by Maurice Boutet de Monvel
Read Review Here Review by Childrens Book-A-Day Almanac explains the strengths and weaknesses of this book by French artist Maurice Boutet de Monvel.

JOAN OF ARC by Diane Stanley
Read Review Here Review by Clare's Literature Reviews that is very detailed and explains how to best use this book to teach young students.

Read Review Here Review by Sheila Jones that is detailed and explains why this book is a good choice for young readers.

Read Review Here by Matt Banks that describes the game from a players point of view. No information on historical accuracy but then I doubt the game was created to teach history. Have fun with it and remember to return to to learn Joan of Arc's real history.

BIOGRAPHY - Joan of Arc: Virgin Warrior Video
Read Review Here Negative review that I must say I agree with as I was also disappointed when I saw this video expecting better from Biography.

THE TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC Movie by Robert Bresson
Read Review Here Very detailed review of this excellent movie about Joan of Arc's trial made in 1962 by Robert Bresson.

Joan Of Arc Band
The Indie rock band named Joan of Arc JOA has nothing to do with Saint Joan of Arc other than their name. They have one album titled Joan of Arc. Dick Cheney, Mark Twain with a title song of the same name but that is the only reference to Saint Joan of Arc in all of their music.

Read Review Here Detailed review of the video game Age of Empires discussing the portrayal of Joan of Arc in the game.

Try the Joan of Arc Marketplace page for a list of several hundred books, movies, music and other commercial products related to Joan of Arc.

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