The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

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The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby Sara » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:02 am

I saw this on DVD yesterday - a truly beautiful little film and a very loving portrayal of St. Francis.

It's black and white, has many non-actors, and beautifully simple. There was something about its look that reminded me of Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew - though Rossellini's film has humor in it.

I found this quote by Martin Scorcese about the film which describes it so well.

"The first time I saw Flowers of St. Francis in the early 70s, I was genuinely surprised. I had never imagined that a filmmaker would dare to treat the life of a saint with so little solemnity, and with so much warmth and humanity.

"There's one central problem with most pictures about saints: reverence. The aura of reverence is almost always at odds with the way the saints must have felt about themselves. It's as if they'd already been declared saints in their own lifetime, as if every word out of their mouths had been pre-sanctified. This reverent approach has made for quite a few perfectly nice, well-intentioned movies completely lacking in urgency, either dramatically or spiritually.

"What Rossellini did, with such grace and such apparent ease, was to make a movie about a group of men for whom existence is a neverending strugglea struggle to be good, a struggle to stay true to the word of God. At times, the stuggle becomes comic, and I still marvel at Rossellini's daring in these scenesthe way Francis and his brethren jump through the puddles, or the cooking of the soup, which wouldn't be out of place in a Laurel and Hardy short. Of course, it's all done in a very loving manner, and that's why it is at once so magical and so true. We're all ridiculous at timeseven those of us who are declared saints.

"For me, the greatest moment in the film is Francis' confrontation with the leper. This is compassion at its most terrifyingly direct, without any of the boundaries or filters we're accustomed to in daily life. Most of us, particularly those of us who live in cities, are confronted with human misery on a daily basisand most of us, understandably, find a way to compartmentalize it. Francis' lack of self in that scene never fails to move methe way he feels the suffering of another human being so completely that he allows it to enter into him and inhabit his own soul. I've never seen another film that deals with this basic question of compassion so eloquently.

"Many artists throughout the world responded to the aftermath of WWII and the holocaust by going back to basics, simplifying, and, at least for the moment, speaking directly. Rossellini spoke with the greatest and most elemental simplicity to the question of faithin The Miracle (the wonder of faith), in Germany Year Zero (the absence of faith), in Europa 51 (the crisis of faith) and in this extraordinary film about the beauty of faith. I've never seen another fillm quite like The Flowers of St. Francis, and I don't expect to in my lifetime." (end of Scorcese's quote.)

The DVD is available in Region 1 and the European one.

This movie was a pleasant surprise for me. A real gem.

Sara
Sara
 


Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby trevor826 » Fri Oct 07, 2005 5:05 pm

Sara this is one of Rossellini's films I haven't seen but your review is excellent, certainly makes me want to see it.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby Sara » Fri Oct 07, 2005 7:00 pm

But the real substance of my review, in all fairness, came from those comments of Scorcese's which I quoted.

Do see the film.

Sara
Sara
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby trevor826 » Fri Oct 07, 2005 8:37 pm

Sorry I should have realised. By the way, have you seen Scorcese's documentary on Italian cinema? I think it's called Voyage to Italy, really good coverage of neo-realism and afterwards.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby Sara » Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:30 pm

No. I have not seen it. But I want to. I wonder if it is on some
TV channel this month... Or better yet, I should see if Netflix has it on DVD.

Thanks, trevor.

Sara
Sara
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby Novotny » Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:54 am

I love this Rossellini film. I'd relate it to some parts of Pasolini's "Uccellacci e Uccellini" rather to his St. Matthew's. It's so innocent, but in a good way

On the other hand, I think of Scorsese's "Voyage to Italy" as some kind of "Neorealism for dummies". There's hardly any new insight about Italian cinema. His approach is so simplistic. There's just 15 minutes or so about his family in NY, and they don't have any relation to real post war Italians...
Novotny
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby trevor826 » Sat Oct 08, 2005 8:07 am

"Neorealism for dummies" that'a a bit heavy, the documentary is meant as an introduction to that period of Italian cinema not as some sort of heavyweight indepth analysis for experts. Anyway I caught it during a season of De Sica and Rossellini films and the only problem I had with it was the fact that it showed too many of the most important scenes from films.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby A » Sat Oct 08, 2005 11:41 am

When I watched thirty minutes of his documentary, I also wondered why he hasn`t anything interesting to say about them, but chose to make this documentary. His comments bored me, but his views on the Rossellini film reprinted above by Sara are very good. Maybe the documentary gets better after a while?
A
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby wpqx » Sat Oct 08, 2005 6:47 pm

I'm yet to get this DVD, poverty set in at a bad time. But I'm just acknowledging that I was the one who moved this, because it certainly falls into the realm of classic cinema, if for nothing else it was made in 1950.

btw just so I voice an opinion of some kind, I think Voyage in Italy is his best film.
wpqx
 

Re: The Flowers of St. Francis - Roberto Rossellini

Postby peppajaa » Wed Feb 01, 2006 12:14 am

If you are interested in a film about St. Francis, see Francesco with Mickey Rourke. Yea, Mickey Rourke. You wouldn't think he could pull it off but he does. Far better film than the warm fuzzy Bother Sun Sister Moon, or whatever it was called.
peppajaa
 

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