This is a repost from my old blog. Enjoy!
As you might have read, famous/notorious performance artist Marina Abramovic has asked equally famous/notorious movie director Lars Von Trier to collaborate with her on a project. This blog post by Anneliese and Ashton Cooper on Artinfo not only summarizes Abramovic’s request, but also supplies suggestions for stories. However, with apologies to the Coopers, I think they didn’t work this out sufficiently.
My inspiration draws from von Trier’s many perceived issues with women (is he misogynist? Or isn’t he?), and Abramovic’s perceived egocentrism. Throw in an oppressive religious structure, perhaps a song or two, and a climax that comes from the source material yet fits both artistes exactly.
In other words, Joan of Arc.
There would, of course, be some changes made. Ms. Abramovic is too old to play Joan without a little judicious rewriting, but the Maid of Orleans’ fiery end would fit her to a T. And von Trier has the ability to be oppressive in many ways, yet step back when necessary. Symbolism is almost a requirement, perhaps even Expressionism.
This inspiration might be due to my recently having seen Carl Theodor Dreyer’s brilliant film, The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), for the first time. It was long overdue, and the film lived up to the praise heaped on it over the decades. To properly capture Joan’s story, or perhaps I should say to capture a distinctive vision of Joan’s story, you need a director very different from Dreyer. Other directors have tried, but I would choose von Trier as the one to do it. Could he:
Perhaps invert the story, with Joan played by a man and her inquisitors by women? Marina Abramovic would then be the chief prosecutor. A tantalizing alternative would be to have Marina as Prosecutor or Defender, and cast Bjork as Joan. Bjork and von Trier have worked together before, in Dancer in the Dark (2000), albeit not so harmoniously.
Move the story to a modern-day or futuristic setting
Echo Dreyer by having the film be silent, with a music score or songs overlaid
Change the ending so that Joan (perhaps hallucinating during her own death) imagines burning the inquisitors at the stake.
The possibilities are nearly endless