The beginning of the thirteenth century, the town of Assisi in Italian Umbria. The son of a rich merchant, Francesco Bernardone, comes back ill from war. In his delirium, he goes back in his memories to the days when he spent time on parties and carnal pleasures. Yet, the shadow of the cross that he sees in fever brings an end to his old life. The armor which he calls "my death mask" appears to be his final clothing of the old human. He slowly recovers, but after the illness there is not the Francesco that was known to everybody any longer. Instead of spending hours in taverns, he spends them on meadows, instead of drinking, he meditates the beauty of God's creatures. Once, he encounters a ruined little church. There, from the old cross, Christ changes his life forever. Francesco renounces the riches, his family and starts to rebuild the Church as "il Poverello - the poorest of the poor." Soon, he gathers many people who are willingly built into a powerful new Spiritual Temple. Will ...Written by
The Italian version runs 14 minutes longer, has a different score (no Donovan) and is totally recut, almost to the extent of being a different film. The film is not a flashback, it begins as the boys travel to an attic where they've acquired suits of Armour, then into the credits, then an extended ride through the fields with totally different dialogue. Different scenes, shots and dialogue throughout. See more »
Oh yes, we can look at this as a parable of the "hippies" and an anti-war, anti-establishment film (as if those are somehow "bad" things.) It is all that. Any director who cannot interpret through the lenses of his time is not a very good director. Zefferelli is a master at it. It may make the movies seem dated but that also is a sign of mastership as we see the life of Francis and also see life in the Vietnam era 1970s. The movie itself is hauntingly filmed in a dreamlike manner. It tells the story of Francis who we will later know as Saint Francis Of Assissi. It is not an attempt to tell the complete story of the saint, but to use episodes from his life to speak to the culture of the time. It is not a biography so much as it is an interpretation.
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