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Saint Joan in Popular Culture

Although she saved France during the Hundred Years War over five centuries ago, Joan of Arc has remained relevant in popular culture around the world since. Here are the five best cultural depictions of the Maid of Orléans:

“Joan of Arc” on Arcade Fire’s Reflektor

In 2013, Montreal-based indie rock band released their senior studio album, Reflektor, with the seventh track named after Joan of Arc herself. The song tells the tale of the young French war hero, including lyrics like “you had a vision they couldn’t see,” which refers to Joan’s divine premonition that she was chosen to lead France in a victory over its long-running war with England. The chorus of the song reads:

Joan of Arc

Tell the boys their time is through

Joan of Arc

Tell the boys I’d rather follow you

Joan of Arc.

Joan barely a teenager when she lead her country into battle. Not only that, she was a teenage girl and the French army had been previously led exclusively by men. Arcade Fire’s song declares that Joan was a superior leader and the people would rather follow her than any man. This song is an exciting and modern retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, providing fans of Arcade Fire with a concise and entertaining world history lesson.   

“Tales of the Public Domain” season 13 episode 14 of The Simpsons (2002)

Our favorite TV middle child, Lisa Simpson, portrayed Joan of Arc in a 2002 episode of this hit cartoon series. This episode retells the history of Joan’s battle against England, except of course, with Lisa playing the Maid of Orléans and other Simpsons characters portrayed as key players (Millhouse is the King of France and Groundskeeper Willie leads the English troops). It is no surprise that Lisa is Saint Joan in this episode–the two share many of the same fiery personality traits. Another fun fact, this episode was told in three parts with each telling a different historical events. The last part of the episode? Bart Simpson as Hamlet.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

This cult classic is about two high school burnouts who travel back in time to collect historical figures to bring back for a class presentation. One of the figures Bill and Ted bring to the present is, you guessed it, Joan of Arc. In a hilarious scene, a young armor-laden Joan, played by Jane Wiedlin, bows before an alter, asking for God’s guidance on her battle against England. However, before Joan can finish her prayer, Bill and Ted show up in a time machine to bring her to present day San Dimas, California. Bill and Ted bring their collection of famous figures, who include Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln, and Genghis Khan, to a mall. There, Joan sees an aerobics demonstration, which she hesitantly and then more confidently joins. While Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure doesn’t include the most historically accurate depiction of Joan of Arc, it is without a doubt the funniest one that exists in pop culture today.

 

 

Coupe à la Jeanne d’Arc – The Joan of Arc Haircut

Who would have guessed that in addition to leading France to victory in one of the most perilous wars in history, Joan of Arc also lead the European fashion world with a new trend–the bob haircut. In the 1900s, a French hairdresser took Joan of Arc as inspiration for this cut, which grew in popularity throughout the 1920s. The haircut, which is still known in France today as “Coupe à la Jeanne d’Arc” (Jeanne d’Arc’s haircut) was particularly associated with liberated women and those who fought for changes in female rights, both in Europe and the United States. It is clear that Joan’s legacy as a strong leader has persisted throughout decades and has manifested itself in new cultural movements and styles.

Versace’s Joan of Arc Glam collection

One of the most recent cultural depictions of Joan of Arc debuted five years ago during Milan Fashion Week. Iconic fashion house Versace revealed their highly praised collection with pieces inspired by Saint Joan herself. The looks drew upon Joan’s militaristic and and androgynous look while adding modern embellishments, like pops of color and sequins. Many of the pieces incorporated geometric shapes and metallic components, making it obvious that Joan was the model for this fashion show.

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There is no question that Joan of Arc has remained an historical and cultural icon in the contemporary era. In fact, there are even some depictions of her coming in the future–including in Bedlam’s production of Saint Joan brought to the stage by ArtsEmerson. Witness the cultural power of Jeanne d’Arc from March 9th-24th at the famous Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre.

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