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 Flowers of St. Francis" was edited for its 1952 US release, with Rossellini's chapter-like inter titles and a couple of scenes removed from the original Italian version. They have been reintroduced in the Criterion and in the Masters of Cinema edition. See more »
An odd little film, but so exhilarating that I don't think the experience will ever leave me. I can't even really say why it pleased me so much, but it's the kind of film that just makes you appreciate the beauty of the world around you. It's so gentle and miraculous. The film follows the simple life of Francis of Assisi and the friars who followed him. Born the son of a rich merchant, he practiced poverty to honor Christ. We see vignettes as they were described in the titular hagiography (no doubt adapted freely by the screenwriters, among whom was Federico Fellini). They are often beautiful and touching, but more often than not they have a tinge of comedy. In fact, you can really see Fellini's talent starting to emerge here. The style is very reminiscent of his early work. Within Rossellini's career, it eclipses probably all of his other films, many of which are admittedly fantastic (I think Stromboli, which was released near the same time, is a close second best). There's just a beauty in it. I am not Catholic and know nothing of St. Francis of Assisi, so I don't know if I'm missing anything. But to me it felt like a true celebration of humanity.
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