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Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1973)

Cast: Graham Faulkner, Judi Bowker, Alec Guinness, more...
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
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Studio: Paramount
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Biopics, British Drama, UK
Running Time: 121 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English
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St. Francis of Assisi was an extraordinarily complex and difficult figure whose effect on his contemporary society was electrifying. Even today, many people are moved by his visionary message of universal toleration. Twelfth-century Italy had an exceptionally grim and regimented society, but the barefoot monk from Assisi undoubtedly had the courage that comes from deep faith and was able to transcend the oppressiveness of the time. In this Italian/British-produced film, director Franco Zeffirelli attempts to bring his vision of this great man to the screen. The contemporary (1970s) example of the hippie movement contributed a great deal to the style in which the story is told. The musical score, using ancient Italian melodies, was arranged by Donovan. The film is visually beautiful in a way which tends to minimize the squalor of the times. As the movie begins, Francis (Graham Faulkner) is the son of wealthy merchants, and enjoys his share of wine, women and song without serious thought. When war and disease devastate his neighborhood, Francis undergoes an anguished transformation which culminates in his appearing before the local bishop and removing his clothes to renounce his previous life and family before dedicating himself to God. The culminating dramatic moment is Francis' appearance before Pope Innocent III (Sir Alec Guinness), to make his case for an independent religious order under new rules. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Beauty by talltale May 19, 2004 - 5:51 AM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
In the annals of beautiful movies, my vote for number one goes to BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON--Franco Zeffirelli's telling of St. Francis of Assisi's formative years. Ravishing does not begin to describe what's on display here. Yes, you can carp about the simplicity (some might say simple-mindedness) of the whole thing. You can mention Zeffirelli's usual homosexual eroticism. You can even say that, well, it's just TOO pretty. No matter. The beauty here is so intense, so constant, that it becomes content itself. In the final scene with Alec Guinness, the beauty ironically underscores the whole point of St. Francis' story and mission. In the end, beauty transcends the camp, the gay subtext, the silliness, everything. This must be the director's finest achievement. I can't imagine that he--or anyone else--will create a film more beautiful than BSSM. The DVD, by the way, does the movie justice: It's crisp, colorful, spectacular.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.40)
20 Votes
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The 100 Best Periods & Historicals before 1901
The best of the best historicals that take place before the 1900s. Wishlist: Tous Les Matins du Monde and the Frisco Kid.

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