Francis Bernardone (Bradford Dillman) is the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, who gives up all his worldly goods to dedicate himself to God. Clare (Dolores Hart) is a young ...
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John M. Stahl
Francis Bernardone (Bradford Dillman) is the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, who gives up all his worldly goods to dedicate himself to God. Clare (Dolores Hart) is a young aristocratic woman who, according to the film, is so taken with St. Francis that she leaves her family and becomes a nun. By this time (1212 A.D.), St. Francis has a well-established reputation for his vows of poverty. The movie goes on to note miracles (such as the appearance of the stigmata on Francis's hands and feet) and other aspects of his life, up to and including his death on October 3, 1226. Written by
In the film, Dolores Hart plays an aristocratic woman who becomes a nun. In reality, Hart left Hollywood to become a nun in 1963. See more »
Several times in the movie, you can see the Basilica of Saint Francis in the background. It wasn't built before 1230, four year after Saint Francis' death. See more »
[Right before the closing title card] Pax et Bonum ("peace and all good [be with you]"). This Latin phrase is the traditional greeting and goodbye of the Franciscans, and it was established by Francis himself. See more »
Lavish production in support of an idealized and sentimentalized religious epic
The production values for this movie are very high. The period costumes are some of the best ever and the filming is beautiful. Even the horses are elegantly clad and the battle scene with the horses on the bridge is impressive.
However, all of this effort does not cover up problems. Many biographies of Francis are captivating, but the story, as presented here, is quite unbelievable and never involving. After Francis' conversion we see him pulling a cart through the streets asking for stones to rebuild a church (it just so happens that everyone along the way happens to have a few spare stones readily available). With a few followers we see Francis working with some crude structures at the church site and then, magically, we see Francis and his followers in an elaborate cathedral with large pillars and intricate stone work that would have taken sophisticated engineering to build. And Francis never encounters anything but beautiful sunny days.
Francis goes on a mission to the Holy Land and we see him wandering alone in the desert with a small pouch of water. Two Arabs are seen in this arid place who unleash vicious leopards upon Francis, but he tames them and gives them water. There is a "my God is bigger than your God" scene between Francis and the sultan that is quite depressing - how little progress we have make in 800 years.
Bradford Dillman does his best with the script he is given and has a couple of good scenes toward the end, but the acting by Dolores Hart and Stuart Whitman is pretty amateurish.
The main problem I have with this movie is that it did not show me what it was about this man that accounted for his accomplishments. He must have been inspiring and charismatic, but what we get here is a very passive reader of scripture. I understand the appeal of a Martin Luther King, but I do not understand the appeal of St. Francis from what I see in this movie.
The most enjoyable part of the movie for me were the photos of the Frescoes of Giotto in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi that played under the opening credits.
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