Sacred Oil of Clovis

11 Nov

Previously, I was talking about the problem I have with mysticism. This made me think about a film that made me think about that question: The Messenger (1999). Is it a good film? Eh… Does it have some amazing scenes? Oh, YES!

First off, this film has some serious acting power: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway and Dustin Hoffman. It’s directed by Luc Besson, who did The Fifth Element, which for my money, sold me watching it. It’s actually got some pretty decent fight scenes, set during the Hundred Years War, so it’s technically proficient. But the film has got this weirdness factor to it–because the question the film is trying to address is–Is Joan of Arc a saint or a lunatic?

At the same time, it talks about the political fight that Joan of Arc brought about. The dauphin couldn’t claim the throne because he didn’t have the popular will or the military victories to challenge the English claim. Joan changes all of that. So there’s a bit where they’ve finally gotten to crown their new king, and the priests are dithering because the sacred oil of Clovis is empty. It was full the last time he saw it. After a couple seconds of that, the royal mother (Faye Dunaway) grabs the vial, takes some ordinary oil, and refills it. The priest askes, “What are you doing?!” The mother just says deadpan, “Performing a miracle.”

And that becomes the oil they anoint the king with… and no one was the wiser. Later on, Joan becomes a political liability, so she gets “captured” by the English (or betrayed or accident). and she’s brought before the inquisition. Dustin Hoffman is the inquisitor and makes her question what she thinks she knows. It is… well, let me just show you the clip:

Really amazing film, and yet… I think I’ve only seen it once. Which makes me question how good it actually is, or if my tastes are more towards comedy and I don’t rewatch drama that much, or maybe those are the only two scenes I liked. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 30%, which makes me question myself.

Have you seen this film? What do you remember about this? Is there another film that addresses the border between the mystic and the real world that you like more? Let me know in the comments below!

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