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Olivia de Havilland,
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Will Rogers Jr.,
Lon Chaney Jr.
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
Average Shot Length = ~10.6 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~10.3 seconds. 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 »
Some Interesting Reflections Weakened By Its Veneration Of Its Subject
This recreates a lot of the legends about Francis of Assisi - one of the best known of the Roman Catholic saints, who is also admired and much quoted by Protestants. There's no doubt that the movie also recreates some of the historical facts about his life - his disagreement with his father over the course his life should take, his visit to the Holy Land and encounter with the sultan and his struggle to gain recognition of his new order from the Pope. This also takes both the legends and the reality to unnecessary extremes at times - such as Francis' encounter with the cheetahs in the Sahara as he was seeking out the sultan. Throughout the whole movie, Francis is portrayed in a too pious light; his humanity (I mean by this his flesh and blood reality, as opposed to his kindness) seemed lost in the mix. This is not especially surprising when you consider that the movie is based on a hagiography (a biography of a saint) written by by the Catholic author Ludwig von Wohl, whose own commission from Pope Pius XII was to "write about the history and mission of the Church in the world." Clearly the Catholic Church wants its saints portrayed in the best light possible, and so a certain sense of veneration for Francis in a movie based on von Wohl's work is inevitable.
Setting that aside (and even Protestants admire Francis, so I have no major criticism) what I most enjoyed here was the continual reflection in the movie on the state of the church and the Christian faith and Christians; the constant temptation (to which we all give in) to compromise the standards of Christ in favour of the standards of the world. The movie continually comes back to that theme; one could even say it revolves around it, as the primary battle Francis fights is to keep his order true to his "rule" - which was essentially the teachings of Christ that His own followers should renounce worldly possessions. Considering the repeated inability of Christians and the church to truly live up to the standards of Christ, the most meaningful words here were probably put on Francis' lips (although I'm unclear whether he actually spoke them): "if men were more perfect, we would need less compassion." So true.
This is at times interesting - but it's still significantly weakened in my view by its veneration of Francis rather than its objective portrayal of his life.
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