Helen Castor’s TV programme based on her book about Joan of Arc, will be broadcast this evening on BBC2.
‘Writer and historian Dr Helen Castor explores the life – and death – of Joan of Arc. Joan was an extraordinary figure – a female warrior in an age that believed women couldn’t fight, let alone lead an army. But Joan was driven by faith, and today more than ever we are acutely aware of the power of faith to drive actions for good or ill.
Since her death, Joan has become an icon for almost everyone – the left and the right, Catholics and Protestants, traditionalists and feminists. But where in all of this is the real Joan – the experiences of a teenage peasant girl who achieved the seemingly impossible? Through an astonishing manuscript, we can hear Joan’s own words at her trial, and as Helen unpicks Joan’s story and places her back in the world that she inhabited, the real human Joan emerges.’
From: BBC website
The programme is the ‘Pick of the Day’ in The Culture (Sunday Times).
‘Reviews of Helen Castor’s recent book on Joan pointed to a radically austere approach that stuck to 15th-century evidence and renounced hindsight to depict “a life led forwards”. The same austerity is discernible in her television version, in the historian’s lack of interests in the transvestite teenager warrior’s afterlife – as saint, as subject of plays, films and songs, and as poster girl for feminism and France’s far right.
Thus, this is a conventional affair, displaying the same lucidity as Castor’s other TV series, She-Wolves, as it recounts the heroine’s initial successes – victory at Orleans, the dauphin’s coronation – and her subsequent defeats, capture, trial and execution. Throughout, Castor situates Joan within a medieval world view obsessed with identifying the divine will: she was at first accepted as God’s emissary, but it later appeared that he had disowned her and that her “voices” were the devil instead.’
John Dugdale, p.52, The Culture (Sunday Times, 24th May 2015)
Weekend (Daily Mail) gives it 4 out of 5 stars.
‘ This pleasingly straightforward documentary tells the always astonishing story of Joan of Arc, the 15th-century French peasant girl who became a warrior, leading a victorious army against the English. Historian Helen Castor, a relaxed and unfussy presenter, explores Joan’s life with the help of a remarkable manuscript account of her trial for heresy. Joan’s own words, quoted verbatim in the transcript, place her in the world she inhabited, a world where anything was possible to those doing God’s will – as Joan clearly believed she was: ‘In truth, I am sent from God.’
p.45, Weekend (Daily Mail, 23rd May 2015)
You can view clips from the programme here: