Religious Freedom in the Grand Inquisitor

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Conventional wisdom has it that religious freedom was granted as a founding principle to everyone. In the film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Carl Theodor Dreyer, represents the main claim of repercussion to those who oppose and disobey the authority of those who are influential and sovereign in a bureaucracy. Dreyer portrays this injustice and suffering through the camera angles and lighting of the scenes in the film. Accordingly, in the novel, Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler agrees that the party’s rules were based on executing severe punishment to calibrate and measure the crime or penalty of wrongful actions. Koestler writes, “[h]e who is in the wrong must pay; he who is in the right will be absolved. That is the law of historical credit; it was our law,” Here, we can see that these brutal and controlling acts abolish any type of freedom thus taking away one’s decision or voice for those who were disobedient and rebellious. Moreover, in the parable, “The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s main claim is that religion and faith offer happiness at the cost of imposing authority and control of all mankind. This essay will offer an analysis of these selections that concur and authenticate the claim of the film that portrays that who oppose and object the authority in a bureaucracy, are put at an unfair disadvantage through persecution and suffering for what they believe.

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The film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, depicts the interrogation between Joan and the judges which portray Joan’s vulnerability and defenseless through the cinematography through the camera’s angles. The film takes place during the 15th-entury in France. Back in her teenage years, she started hearing voices. Voices from saints. Consequently, she is put on trial with the English because they accuse her for the blasphemy and heresy of claiming that God and the saints spoke to her. They want her to backtrack her claim that they spoke to her, but she resists. As a result, she is tortured and tormented by the priests to get her to sign a paper proclaiming her of blasphemy. All these events are demonstrated through the interrogation via the lighting that empathize her suffering and defenseless. In this integration, Joan characterizes her suffering and affliction by her facial expressions and cinematography. Intentionally, the judges are filmed upwards as opposed to Joan that is filmed downwards. The closeups enable the viewer to perceive the emotions of the judges and Joan. In addition, in the novel, Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler, Rubashov also experiences suffering through persecution and torture for contradicting the court officials with power and authority. Like Joan, Rubashov is put on jail and accused of opposing and rebelling against his own. After he was a symbol of heroism and praise of the party, disposed of easily after he was entirely devoted. This fiction only benefited the individually and not the collective. He confesses that, “[t]he party denied the free will of the individual—and at the same time it exacted his willing self-sacrifice. It denied his capacity to choose between two alternatives—and at the same time it demanded that he should constantly choose the right one,” (262). In other words, Rubashov explains how we accept the reasoning of the party continuously; sometimes, we even sacrifice our free will too. Like Joan, he was also interrogated via torture and torments that were meant to make them change their will and mentality. He realized that he was imprisoned by not agreeing with his government that supposedly care for the collective and the individual. All in all, the film purposely shows angles that make Joan look valuable and defenseless like when Rubashov tortured for treason. As the integration is taking place, she is purposely shot in a way to show her isolated unlike the priests and judges that are shot upwards as a sign superiority and authority.

In the parable, “The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s describes that the Catholic church would burn to death those who opposed them as a form of punishment. Dostoyevsky assert that through this form of government, “we shall convince them that they will only become free when they resign their freedom to us and submit to us. We will right, do you think, or will we be lying? They themselves will be convinced that we are tight for they will remember to what horrors of slavery and confusion your freedom led them.” Here, we can see that power is a tool used for an imposing and authoritarian form of governing. Additionally, the church impose regulations and control by the way power was distributed. Dostoyevsky’s describes that, ‘‘Everything,’ they say, ‘has been handed over by you to the pope, therefore everything now belongs to the pope, and you may as well not come at all now, or at least don’t interfere with us for the time being.” Here, we can associate this except with Joan’s life because in both scenarios the church was authority to do as they please. Dostoyevsky’s states the example of Christ. Similarly, Christ was imprisoned and interrogated to later be sacrificed to offer freedom to all mankind. Christ had to suffer and be tortured to carry the burden of freedom. It is ironic that his death served as a pathway for freedom for everyone through the means of a sacrifice. Near the end of the film, Joan is burned to death at the stake. This brutalization of the character onscreen personates the acceptance of martyrdom all for freedom of religion based on one’s religion or faith. Before being burned to death Joan says, “[d]ear God, I accept my death gladly… but do not let me suffer too long.” Indeed, Joan accepted her destiny and came into terms with her sacrifice. She believed she was the chosen one and had to follow Gods command until her last breath.

Most sharply, both written works support the films claim that who oppose and object the authority in a bureaucracy, are put at an unfair disadvantage through persecution and suffering for what they believe in. evidently, it was not just suffering and hardships. The film also portrays virtues such as courage and strength. The film demonstrates her courage when she walks to the church. Visibly, in this scene her angle changes to a low angle shot that enabled her to represent her virtue of bravery and strength through her eyes. Since the movie is silent, her expressions perfectly depict these qualities only through her eyes. However, that angle goes back to a high angle when the camera focuses on the religious authority. When the man holds the bible, he makes her swear to say only the truth, the angle changes too. Noticeably, the scene shows an angle that leaves her with only one option which aides and pushes her to only that alternative. Later she is asked to cantillate the prayer. Obviously, she refuses to do so. Most sharply, this scene perfectly captures her strength an emotion through low angle shot that empowers her. Ultimately, when the scene intends to portray Joan as a hero, she tends to look upwards. Peculiarly, in the minute 12:38, we can see how her eyes look into the sky and her eyes give a sense of peace and restfulness. All in all, Rubashov and Joan are put on trial and hold their belief and conviction strong even though it is a form of opposition and contradiction on what the superior authority imposes. This unique form of sympathy transformed into courage and strength in both characters that serve as models of inspiration and admiration.

In conclusion, Rubashov committed a different crime but the reaction of Joan is somewhat similar while in front of the authority. The novel, Darkness at Noon, and the parable of, “The Grand Inquisitor,” concur and support the film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, mains claim that there is repercussion to those who oppose, contradict, and disobey the authority of those who are influential and sovereign in a bureaucracy, are put at an unfair disadvantage through persecution and suffering for maintain their stand for what they believe in and their faith. This classical film shows the disadvantages that Joan faced for defending and holding her faith. To the extend that it was considered a blasphemy and abomination to God. Let’s keep in mind that during this time women had no authority as it was a male centered society. Additionally, she is evaluated in an ale dominated society for her trial. Purposely, the film used lighting and shadows that portrayed the strong, the weak, and the suffrage. Without sound or words, the audience was able to capture all these emotions and feelings that the characters transmitted. As we watched, the judges were filmed upwards as opposed to Joan who was at times filmed downwards enabling the closeups to show her as defenseless and isolated. Most sharply, the scenes in which Joan was filmed used bright and soft lighting. Unlike the judges and priests that had predominant shadows and harsh lighting that can be interpret as harsh and mean people. All in all, the story is told through the expressions of the actor. Similarly, Rubashov was characterized as being betrays and tortured for speaking his truth. The novel used words that adequately described the details of the imprisonment and tortured. Also, Christ was faced with this emotional and physical tribulation when he was arrested and integrated. He was humiliated and tempted as he claims to be the savior. Evidently, these sacrifices did not go unnoticed. Certainly, they serve as inspiration to humanity. Freedom of religion is a virtue and gift. We might not cherish it but there were sacrifices done for them. This doesn’t mean that religion should be imposed but rather cherished and valued. Freedom of religion is sometimes devalued and seen as no importance. Even though people might not believe in God, are agnostic, or atheist they have to right to defend that belief and opinion. That is the beauty of having freedom. Ultimately, we decide how to use it just like how these men and women did through the means of suffering and affliction of Christ.

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