The Argus: Brighton Festival ThumbThe Passion Of Joan Of Arc made it to the top of the shortlist for the most harrowing film this reviewer has ever seen.

Nothing in memory has provoked the urge to sprint to the bar faster after the closing titles than Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent masterpiece.

A good part of the reason was the emotional amplifier of a score written by Adrian Utley and Will Gregory and performed by them with a choir, horn section, harpist, six electric guitarists and a percussionist.

But the film was extraordinary.

With liberal use of close-ups on the exquisitely expressive face of Maria Falconetti as Joan, it told the story of her trial by a bunch of ecclesiastical bullies, thugs and tricksters and her subsequent burning at the stake.

From her hopeless position in front of a kangaroo court to the torture chamber and thence to her final execution, the audience was spared none of the horror.

The musicians, performing live beneath the screen, underscored every tear, every stab of pain, every grotesque injustice until you wondered quite how any decent society could have evolved from that medieval dysfunction.

In terror at the prospect of death, Joan gave the court what it wanted and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

As her hair was shorn in preparation for jail, Gregory’s spectral keyboards wove around her mental anguish at having given in.

But then, when she chose to recant, the sentence was changed to one of being burned alive and the massed ranks of discordant electric guitars swelled to a climax.

With this year’s guest director Aung San Suu Kyi highlighting themes of freedom and oppression, there could not have been a more appropriate festival finale.