Based on Maxwell Anderson's play, a girl in 1429 hears voices and leads the army of France to victories for King Charles, but she is captured by the English, who put her on trial for heresy.
The teenager Joan of Arc (Ingrid Bergman) is told to lead the army of France. She gets a ride to Vaucoulers and tells Robert de Baudricourt she must go to the Dauphin to save France. She speaks of a distant battle, and he comes back and says she can go. Some men believe in her and follower her to Chinon. A count sits on the throne; but Joan finds Charles the Dauphin (Jose Ferrer), and she says his life and the war will change. She says she can tell him of his secrets.
Men are recruited for the army. Joan has been tested by the Church, and she asks Charles to send her to Orleans. In armor she leads the army. Joan tells La Hire (Ward Bond) not to swear, and she asks the army to go to confession. Joan tells soldiers not to gamble or swear and to send away the women. Joan makes a speech to make them God's army. Dunois of Orleans shows her the strongest English fort. She says to strike, and they attack. Joan leads them and is wounded by an arrow. She sees men retreating and leads them again. The French take the fort.
Joan wins a series of victories, and towns surrender. Burgundy is allied with England and holds Paris. Charles asks Georges de la Trémouille (Gene Lockhart) for 100,000 livres to capitulate to Burgundy.
Charles is crowned king at Rheims, and Joan is glad. Charles tells her that he made a truce with Burgundy and that men like corruption. Joan realizes that he took money and says he betrayed them. Joan says goodbye to La Hire and two other loyal officers. She prays but does not hear her voices. Joan and her followers defend Compiegne from the English, and she is captured.
Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais (Francis L. Sullivan), pays 10,000 pounds to get Joan. He and others judge her, but she warns them they are in danger. The Earl of Warwick (Alan Napier) tells the Bishop of Beauvais there will be no more public sessions. One of the judges resigns, and the Bishop has him arrested. Joan objects to being chained and guarded by English soldiers. Joan has not been able to sleep and is tired of the same questions; so she appeals to the Pope. Warwick says that she is under the King of England. A bishop declares the trial unlawful and political, not religious.
The Bishop of Beauvais tries to make Joan abjure in public or she will die by fire. She submits to the Church. The Bishop sentences her to prison, but she expected to go to a church prison. Joan prays for forgiveness. She refuses to wear women's clothes and says she heard her voices again. Condemned again as a heretic, Joan is chained to a stake and burned as she and a friar pray.
This historical drama is fairly accurate to one of the
most extraordinary military careers in history. Joan's story reflects
the power of religion during the medieval era even though she
was overcome by the worldly powers and the clergy who served them.