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Doug C

The Flowers of St. Francis

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WOO HOO!!!!

Congratulations Masters of Cinema! This is great news.

It's a delightful film -- the source of my two most recent avatars, as it happens (in fact, in honor of this event I'm going back to the other one).

I have no idea if my DVD software plays Region 2, but I'm buying this DVD first and figuring out how to play it later.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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That looks awesome, Doug. Congratulations!

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Thanks, guys--you'll be happpy to learn that this is the longer Italian version, too, which drops the rambling, non-Rossellini produced, introductory prologue of the US version and includes at least one scene that was cut.

We're still working on additional supplementary material, so keep an eye on the extras...we're quite excited about reintroducing this masterpiece to English-speaking audiences!

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By the way, you can enjoy an extensive preview of this film (and other Rossellini and Italian cinema) with commentary in Scorsese's lovely documentary, My Voyage to Italy, which was released on DVD by Miramax a few months ago. Highly recommended.

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Thanks, guys--you'll be happpy to learn that this is the longer Italian version, too, which drops the rambling, non-Rossellini produced, introductory prologue of the US version and includes at least one scene that was cut.

That does sound exciting, Doug -- although there is still an introductory prologue, isn't there? I thought I remembered Rossellini himself saying something about it in the comments I read from him about the film.
That looks awesome, Doug.  Congratulations!

After you see it, Stef, you will feel silly about your PM comment about my last avatar. biggrin.gif

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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My understanding is that the American distributor demanded its inclusion, so Rossellini bowed to pressure, thus referring to it in the essay he wrote; a necessary evil. But as you know, it's not really in the style of the rest of the film--it resembles a random clip from any PBS documentary.

As for the avatar, I have to admit a fondness for the barbarian. smile.gif

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BTW, we may yet change the cover design of the DVD, so if anyone who has seen the film has any opinions on the matter, feel free to offer them.

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SDG, I'm wondering what you thought of the Italian cut versus the American cut you reviewed last year? Despite Criterion's use of the American title, I assume their print doesn't contain the added prologue, and has intertitles for each of the vignettes, etc.?

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BTW, I'm wondering if an admin could change the subhead on this thread now that the region one has been released; I suggest "aka Francesco, giullare di Dio."

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I thought I'd post the appreciation of the film that Martin Scorsese wrote for our release:

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 struggle

Edited by Doug C

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SDG, I'm wondering what you thought of the Italian cut versus the American cut you reviewed last year?

The American cut you sent me, you mean (thanks again!).

Despite Criterion's use of the American title, I assume their print doesn't contain the added prologue, and has intertitles for each of the vignettes, etc.?

Yes, that's right. I did notice the differences you mention, and found the Italian cut superior on all counts. Didn't miss the prologue at all -- rather, I thought the film worked better without it -- and I was delighted by the intertitles, which I didn't know were coming, and which definitely enhance the "Little Flowers"-like tone of the film.

Of course, the biggest difference was with respect to print quality, especially as regards the readability of the subtitles! Are you aware of other differences I should be watching for?

Based on my two viewings to date, I'd say this film has won a place on my all-time Top 10, should I ever draw up such a list.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I just saw this film yesterday (from Netflix.) I wish I could describe its beauty like Martin Scorsese did in the quote above from Doug.

So let me give a very sincere "ditto."

The version I saw, region 1, had the intertitles, good subtitles, and in the extras included comments by Roberto Rossellini's daughter, Isabella, and the English introduction which I found not in keeping with the spirit of the film.

I will never forget the simplicity, beauty,humor (yes), of this movie as well as the loving look on St. Francis' face.

Sara

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So, the Vancouver Int'l Film Centre is showing this film this week, and the only night I was able to go to the theatre was last night, when it was showing at 9:30pm (instead of at 7:30pm, as on all the other nights). And last night was one of those nights where I found myself fighting off the urge to sleep at a late show. Arrrgh.

The first hour was wonderful. I love the comic tone to the whole thing. And yeah, the intertitles are cool, too. But I'm afraid the last half-hour was kinda spotty for me; I kept trying to prop my eyelids open, and didn't do as good a job as I should have.

Ah well, this means I can rent the DVD and check out the bonus features, I assume!

BTW, the film was preceded by Guy Maddin & Isabella Rossellini's 15-minute short My Dad Is 100 Years Old. Very, uh, interesting. :)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I saw this film last night at the St. Louis Film Festival and found it quite delightful. The scene with St. Francis and the Leper was powerful in its simple portrayal of showing love to an outcast, and in having to cry out for help from God due to the limits of one's own efforts.

I liked the humor throughout, and how the film captures the simplicity and struggles of the saints' daily lives. I most liked the scenes with Ginepro, who is a joy to watch. He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, as when he involves an unwilling pig into his works of charity. But his good-naturedness is infectious and illustrates God's love.

Edited by Crow

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I liked the humor throughout, and how the film captures the simplicity and struggles of the saints' daily lives. I most liked the scenes with Ginepro, who is a joy to watch. He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, as when he involves an unwilling pig into his works of charity. But his good-naturedness is infectious and illustrates God's love.
Yes, it's great how where other presentations like Brother Sun, Sister Moon have made Francis a kind of holy fool or holy madman, The Flowers of St. Francis makes Francis the straight man, the Christ-like leader, while his followers are the holy fools, the court jesters to Francis's troubadour.

I sometimes think that all my best efforts look to Jesus how Brother Juniper's efforts look to Francis.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Finally saw this over the weekend. I hadn't read anything about it beforehand (except enough insistance that I see it), so I was pleasantly surprized at the tone of the film. I didn't expect so much humor. I adored Giovanni and Ginapro.

The scene with Ginapro and the tyrant in the tent was especially moving -- the look of innocence and love on Ginapro's face about brought me to tears. And as others have mentioned, the leper vignette was marvelous.

What a beautiful film! From Giovanni yelling "he threw Brother Pig on the ground!" to the enthusiasm of preparing for the sister's arrival to the separating at the end. . . loved it!

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The May 2007 Sight & Sound has a good article on this film, connecting it with other Rossellini, Fellini and other Italian work of the time - You Must Be Joking by Guido Bonsaver.

Some excerpts...

It is not St Francis but the irrational spirituality of the early Franciscans that Rossellini intended to portray: their mad, frugal, self-humiliating lifestyle.

To some extent the film's style mirrors its content. A minimalism in mise en sc


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Hmm Looks like I'm not the only one brushing up on my Rossellini in light of the BFI's Rossellini Season.

Thanks for the link Ron. much appreciated.

By the way, could we change the title of this thread to the literal translation / English title of the film - Francis, God's Jester. This film is so much more about being fools for Christ than it is about flowers...

Matt

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By the way, could we change the title of this thread to the literal translation / English title of the film - Francis, God's Jester. This film is so much more about being fools for Christ than it is about flowers...

If the purpose of naming threads after films is to aid search functionality, we should probably use the better known title.


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Just watched this again and a couple of things stood out this time. Firstly it's interesting that the character of Ginepro (St. Juniper) almost seems to be more the hero than Francis. It's a bit like the Luke / Obi Wan relationship in Star Wars, only that film isn't named after Obi Wan.

Secondly, on reading up on St Juniper, it's interesting to see how Rossellini has demythologised the story of the pig's feet. In the account on Wikipedia it seems that Juniper ultimately won the pig's owner over, but in the film, he turns the pig over to them in a gesture of defiance.

Matt

PS - SDG said

If the purpose of naming threads after films is to aid search functionality...
But is that the purpose? And since when did a better "known" error become a better option than just being correct?

Edited by MattPage

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I responded much more to the Sight & Sound article than Scorsese’s essay. I have struggled to get through the entire film for years – most recently the last 2 months. I admit, I pop the DVD late at night, which it not always the best time to put in a B&W film with subtitles, but it just isn’t working. It doesn’t feel meditative. I do not see the humble portrayal of a saint and his joyful followers. I see a goofy bunch of guys idolizing and elevating another man to a godlike status.

However, after reading the S&S article I am more convinced that this may be an effort to instill the importance of “child-like” naivety and sense of wonder and how allowing ourselves to be lost in faith with abandon is so important to our lives. Maybe the feeling that it is over the top, pushing goofy, is either a statement on how we have come to feel about the sense of wonder or child-like faith or a poignant reflection into the reckless abandon of a new belief and how living it out deeply affects every aspect of our lives. We begin to not only feel the joy but it becomes visually evident to those around us.

I am giving this another try this weekend.


...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

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Thom, again this is one of the reasons that I think using Rossellini's title / it's nearest English equivalent is important. It's not a neo-realist version of Brother Sun Sister Moon, it's about being fools for Christ and the unrestrained joy in that.

Once you get that into your head as the film's frame of reference it's a joy. And I don't see much idolising.

Matt

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Thanks Matt. I definitely get your argument regarding the title of the film and think it would be beneficial in creating the right frame of mind before watching this. Idolizing may have been a strong word but it feels subservient that they ask St. Francis permission before they do anything.

I am still boring my way through this one. Looks like I may need to watch it some other time to see the magnificence.


...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

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I revisited this film last night for possible inclusion on my top 25, and what most struck me this time was how radical a gesture it was for Rossellini to follow Rome, Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero, and Stromboli with a film about the pre-modern world. There's absolutley nothing nostalgic or idyllic about it, though. After making those post-WWII rubble films, Rossellini seems to be offering this as a kind of benediction. This is the world, this has always been the world, this will always be the world, and it is full of absurd suffering and stupid greed and violence but also beauty and grace. Amen.

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