The film dramatizes about a dozen vignettes from the life of St. Francis and his early followers - starting with their return in the rain to Rivotorlo from Rome when the Pope blessed their ...
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The film dramatizes about a dozen vignettes from the life of St. Francis and his early followers - starting with their return in the rain to Rivotorlo from Rome when the Pope blessed their Rule and ending with their dispersal to preach. The unconnected chapters are like parables, some with a moral. The slight and comic Ginepro returns naked to St. Mary's of the Angels, having given away his tunic, but not his ricotta. The aged Giovanni shouts and holds onto his cape; the beatific St. Clair pays a visit. Humble Francis doubts his leadership, hugs a leper, and sends his brothers spinning, dizzy, and smiling into the world. This brotherhood is infused with whimsy as well as belief. Written by
The filmmakers wanted to donate something to the monks who acted in the film since they refused payment. According to Rossellini's daughter, he expected them to ask that the donation be something charitable - setting up a soup kitchen or the like. Instead, the monks surprised everyone by asking for fireworks. Rossellini saw to it that the town had an enormous, elaborate fireworks display that was the talk of the region for years. See more »
This is one of the most beautiful and humbling pictures I have seen. I discovered it recently along with three other Rossellinis, "India Matre Bhumi", "Fear", and "L'Amore" - all masterworks. But so far based on the first viewing, "Francesco, giullare di Dio" ranks with my absolute favorite Rossellini pictures, "Europa '51" & "The Rise of Louis XIV". From the sublime opening long shot of Franciscans arriving in Assissi to the final unforgettable moment where they all spin and fall on the ground and Rossellini's circular camera connects the earth, sky, and water in perfect harmony, "Francesco" is an authentic, invigorating piece of art.
The photography itself is a masterpiece; It has a harsh, genuine beauty and splendour: the scenes at the beginning where Franciscans are soaked in rain, or at daytime when they kiss one another and preach and start a fire, or scenes in which Brother G is brutally beaten or tortured by a tyrant, or at night time when Francesco encounters and kisses a leper are all magnificently shot.
"Francesco" is told in a series of disconnected vignettes, each documenting different daily events and experiences of the Franciscans. The vignettes are preceded by an introductory title (e.g. "How Brother G Cut the Leg of a Pig for a Sick Brother", "How Francesco Met and Kissed a Leper", etc). Although it is explicitly a religious document of St. Francis and his followers set in a bygone era, the feelings and impressions that emanate from it are timeless and universal.
It is the sort of picture that makes you feel alive or buoyant about life and humanity. "Francesco" is one of my absolute favorite films, a truly humbling masterpiece from one of cinema's great film artists.
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