joan (played by johanna wokalek) was born a genius. she had a talent for learning and a natural curiousity towards the world. she picked up things just by listening to them. she grew up with her father who was the village priest, a religious and ruthless man; her pagan mother and her two older brothers.
joan's father groomed her brothers to be servants of the church just as he was. the oldest brother, as soon as he discovers her extraordinary abilities, secretly took time to teach her how to read and write. while her mother taught johnna the ancient healing arts by way of herbs. she learned diligently. her father though thinks that she was an abomination (unnatural) and forbade her from learning anything at all. unfortunately, she lived at an age when there was a low opinion of women.
one day she was discovered by a visiting monk who recognized her gifts. he taught her alongside with her brothers, the classics, philosophy, greek etc. the monk, excited of his find, sent word to the bishop to have her immediately transfered to the school to be given proper education, even though education was traditionaly given only to christian boys, the monk thought that it would be a crime against god not to send her. her father grew exceedingly furious. he only agreed to it if one of her brothers would be sent with her.
when the bishop's emissary came for her back at the village later, and was instructed to bring just one child. her father insisted on sending her brother instead. it was the last draw, joan decided to run away and pursue her calling.
the story is about her remarkable journey to rome where she becomes the pope in a world where she was forced to hide behind a disguise -- that of a man. where only behind this mask that she could be free. she quickly made a name for herself going against tradition but not without adversaries and allies along the way.
she became a distuigished healer and an accompished philosopher infamously arguing for equality. she was a scribe translating into different languages knowledge of the classics. she knew the value of education and took the time to teach others who were willing how to read and write.
unfortunately we could never know if this is a true story or not for if there had been any record of her, it looks like it had long been (maybe intentionally) erased from antiquity. today her inspiring story survives as mere medieval legend.
the film gives us a realistic view of why sexism perpetuates to this day. that there must be a relationship between religious doctrine and how religious people view and treat women. we can see how the story bears comtemporary implications against modern day sexism, ignorance and superstition, against gender roles, of politics in the church heirarchy. and how equality remains to be, not only a religious but certainly a social and political question.
4 out of 5 ****
read more of st paul and st. aquinas views on women