Clippings

In this tri-lingual epic, seven western women travel in the Trans-Siberian Railroad and are kidnaped by a tribe of Mongolian female warriors. As fantastic as this tale sounds, it is as much substantiated by historical and ethnographical research as it is just another one of Ottinger's fictions of transformation, metamorphosis and the problem of dealing with otherness. In this film these strands are most benignly brought together and woven into a scintillating tapestry of cultural interrelation. Where railroad and caravan meet - both metaphors for trans-formation - the intitial clash, the fear of the uncertain other continent, turns into festivities as a result of receptive and accepting attitudes. Instead of combatting each other, customs and costumes reflect each other as in a mirror:
"The whole film is a twin structure, cut through by doubles, repetitions, similarities and endless reflections. The images have a crease, established by the stories [...] In this way the Mongolian world casts a reflecting light on western customs and habits and cinema recommends itself as the instrument of investigation and the agent of old and new myths."
Frieda Grafe, Süddeutsche Zeitung, April, 3rd,1989 



The director is at her playful best in upsetting the clichés of strangers on a train[...] JOHANNA D'ARC turns into a travelogue. But few travelogues are this rich, ambitious and unusual." 
Caryn James, The New York Times



JOHANNA represents the fanciful attempt of a unique German filmmaker to explore the way extremely different cultures migrate and influence each other. The theme of the wanderer/outsider, carrier of diverse ideas, runs through all of Ulrike Ottinger's strikingly original films.
Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle



Certainly, the (1989 Women in Film) Festival's most inventive work is the personal vision personified, it's JOAN OF ARC OF MONGOLIA, a wickedly delightful look at the headlong collision of two cultures by writer-director-producer Ulrike Ottinger [...] Sophisticated, mysterious and deliriously beautiful [...] 
Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times



Ulrike Ottinger hat sich in ihrem neuen Film [...] zu einer höchst interessanten Vermischung by Fiktion und dokumentarischer Exkursion in eine fremde Kultur entschlossen [...] Komische Aspekte inszeniert Ulrike Ottinger dabei ganz als Situationskomik im Aufprall der beiden Kulturen. Jeder Anflug by Exotismus wird gebrochen im einerseits dokumentarischen Gestus und andererseits durch die Herausarbeitung der ästhetisch-autonomen Aspekte des Fremden. Die Reise in die Vergangenheit verläßt so nie die Moderne, sondern rettet sie als Wahrnehmungsstruktur. Der Faszinismus des in der Ferne Gesehenen wird als neue Erfahrung mit auf die Rückreise genommen [...] 
So schließt Ulrike Ottinger an die moderne Sicht auf die fremde Kultur an, ohne ihrem Mythos zu erliegen. Das gibt dem Film eine Fähigkeit zur Komik und auch Heiterkeit, die mitunter verblüfft, zumal sie der Aufbruchstimmung nachgibt, die Abenteuer möglich macht.
Gertrud Koch, Frankfurter Rundschau, February, 16th, 1989