The Flowers of St Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio) (Francis, God's Jester) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Flowers of St Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio) (Francis, God's Jester) Reviews

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November 14, 2015
In cinema history there are two films that lend a simple beauty and grace to spiritually complex subject matter. They are Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Roberto Rossellini's "The Flowers of St. Francis".

This is a film that dares to approach the subject of enlightenment and application of faith with minimalism and purity. The film isn't romantic or colamitous in any way, which isn't all that abnormal in a film except this film isn't aiming for that. It isn't some kind of pretentious goal of the filmmaker, but rather a side effect of honest storytelling, and that's what "The Flowers of St. Francis" is on a fundamental level: honest.

Whether you're a believer or a heathen, if you walk away from this movie without feeling some semblance of joy and hope than you're either daft or dead. This is a masterpiece about harmony and love for one's fellow man while serving and admonishing God.
June 23, 2014
fairly unspectacular.
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2014
Rossellini's religious proclamation of saintliness faced difficulties in its distribution abroad and a butchered U.S. version, which cut two reels out of the movie based on the U.S. religious standards, a shocking proof of their simple-mindedness. Nevertheless, unlike a good number of U.S. films treating religion as the central topic, the unbiased testaments of Europe, especially Italy and France, felt more authentic, realistic, heartfelt... More human. The hardships in spreading God's word, hunger, rejection, faith during tumultuous times, our failure on certain tasks... That's what defines a human, and not complete saintliness or perfection which can only be achieved during eternal life when we are finally by God's side, and not during our earthly circumstances.

Rossellini, following an episodic structure perhaps trying to mirror the lessons tought by Jesus Christ in the Gospels, treats the characters as disciples and divides the whole story, although chronologically, as individually told parables, each one containing a lesson, which could be interpreted, as follows:

I. Rejection in His name.
II. Clothes for the naked.
III. Following the example of our greater brothers in faith.
IV. Personal encounters with our brothers/sisters in faith.
V. Feed the hungry, and God's generosity shall multiply in your life.
VI. Feeling the pain of those in disgrace and our impotency to free them from their pain.
VII. For it is better to preach with examples than with words.
VIII. Nobility's conquer over ferocity.
IX. Conquering oneself and enduring pain in His name is perfect happiness.
X. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." - Mark 16:15

This review is as unbiased as the film attempts to be depicting the lives of these striving souls, who think they are following the correct path, but they are not, given that they execute their deeds expecting something in return, and hold the idea that God will reward them based on deeds, when the Bible says otherwise. As a Christian and son of God, this kind of life is incorrect, and the philosophy of life of this people is a deviation from what God intended for the life of men, but it is virtually impossible to resist the almost neorealist poetry that films like Francesco, Giullare di Dio or Journal d'un Curé de Campagne (1951) hold, being the celluloid contributions with a gigantic heart that they are, which have the power of reflecting the condition of any viewer regardless of his/her beliefs.

Francesco, the jester of God, the mini-Christ of his own flock of disciples...

January 23, 2014
Utterly fascinating and unique film about the life of Saint Francis and his disciples. It is told in episodic short vignettes that how Francis and his disciples relate to each other, to the world and to God. His disciples sometimes behaved like children who are too eager to please never knowing when to say no to anyone in need. Saint Francis is also seen crying as he contemplates the passion of the Christ and his purpose on earth. He seems to have all the answers but never misses an opportunity to humble himself, and his role and that of his followers were played by non-actors, by real life monks from the nearby monastery, because director Rossellini was wise enough to realize only they could show such innocence, humility and passion.
½ June 25, 2013
It's like a filmed version of Italo Calvino's "Italian Folktales".
½ April 2, 2013
Spectacular black and white cinematography whose simplicity demands a certain ethereal and tranquil quality to the tone of the film. Delightful in its conciseness, powerful in its telling of short vignettes, and admirable in its almost comedic ambivalence and nonjudgmental attitude.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2013
more vignettes from rossellini; i'd like to watch this again sometime as it may have suffered in comparison with buñuel's towering film. it's certainly lovely
Super Reviewer
January 23, 2013
There's more than one moment of humor here, as Rossellini takes the opposite approach to religious storytelling (rather than Hollywood's overblown, over pious pandering) showing ordinary men struggling to live as their faith instructs: simply, and with faith. Episodic and cheerful.
½ October 31, 2012
Fellini can do no wrong.
½ October 20, 2012
Fellini incrivelmente simpático com os católicos... agradável surpresa. :-)
September 23, 2012
Apparently atheists make the best religious movies. Rossellini's masterpiece feels like a product of another time--simple as an icon painting, comic as a Canterbury tale, it's a film full of wonder and full of humility, both sparse and abundant, a sweet, sincere, seemingly ancient celebration of the spirit and the flesh. It's pretty perfect.
½ July 8, 2012
Roberto Rossellini applies the techniques of neo-realism (location and outdoor shooting, non-professional actors) to a series of parables or anecdotes about St Francis of Assisi. The film opens with a bunch of monks walking in pouring rain and progresses to show this same group of monks (in reality, real monks for the most part) having adventures (some comical, some more serious) -- often in long shot. There are such a lot of long shots I wondered whether this was Rossellini's way of depicting these simple faithful souls in their environmental context, with rugged terrain and hardship all around (a la the 13th century). Indeed, Francis and his followers earn their divinity through hands on assistance to the poor and by maintaining humility in doing so. The film's direction echoes this simple graceful style.
½ June 30, 2012
The Cahiers critics in the 50s praised Rossellini to the sky and I'm not going to pretend that it's easy for me to see why. ROME OPEN CITY is the only other Rossellini film I have seen so far, and the torture to sit through was no worse than the torture that the resistance fighters went through in the film. ST. FRANCIS, however, is a surprisingly delightful that has no historical or storyline complication - it's about unconditional faith, and the filmmaker seems to be as simple and faithful as St. Francis - he doesn't offer any psychological explanation to why the people do what they do, nor is their an immediate purpose that we may see perhaps at the climax of the film. It's faith for its own sake, with no expectation and no question. It sounds like an overly serious and religious film, but Rossellini takes care to inject so much humor into it. The mob scene is astonishing in its depiction of people being worse than beasts; the ending is so sweet that it lingers a long while after the film is over... the one thing I find particularly funny is when Guinero persuades the pig into giving up its trotter for a sickly brother, "Just think how many times do you have a chance to do good."
½ April 7, 2012
Reverent and a little boring.
February 18, 2012
The Flowers of St. Francis is a beautifully lyrical film. Each segment is carefully constructed and expertly realized. There is no weakness to the film, but its strength comes from the imagery. The moments when Rossellini lets the camera linger with the absence of dialogue are pure poetic magic.
½ December 22, 2011
Martin Scorcese considers the film unparalleled. The Decent Films Guide gives it a moral/spiritual value of +4 (on a -4 to +4 scale), an artistic value of four stars out of four, and an A+ overall recommendability. And "The Flowers of St Francis" is on a list of fifteen religious films (several of which I didn't like) selected as "important" by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Cinema.

Well, I have no taste for it. The film is supposed to be about St Francis of Assisi, but if there is a main character in this disjointed series of anecdotes, it is a monk called Ginepro, who is a kind of village idiot whose silliness often veers into outright cruelty. In once scene, he decides to fulfill a sick monk's request for a pig's foot by going into a pigsty and cutting a live pig's foot, interpreting the poor animal's cries as his thanking the Lord for an opportunity to help a monk. Accompanying Ginepro is a demented old man who seems to have even less sense than him, throwing the wood into the pot rather than into the fire and that sort of thing.

If, say, Alejandro Jodorowsky (one of the most anti-Christian filmmakers I know of) decided to make a film about drunk Buddhist monks, you would get the same kind of "spiritual value". The monks are mostly comical figures, seen running to and fro like Jawas, with St Francis at their head bursting into tears in almost every sequence he is in.

Though "The Little Flowers..." has been restored by Criterion, the soundtrack is far from crisp, which makes it all the more unnerving if you are not used to Italians shouting right and left.

The film gives a very one-sided view of Franciscan spirituality, as Rossellini himself admitted. I can't say I find that view particularly attractive or inspiring. If you want a quick introduction to the saint, I recommend Battaglia's comic book biography instead.
July 12, 2011
One of the best movies I've ever seen.
½ April 22, 2011
Perfect for Good Friday. You'd have to be an extremely cynical nihilist to not be moved and fascinated by this film. This is actually a series of vignettes on the life St. Francis of Assissi and his fellow monks. It's often quite moving, sometimes even funny and all-around very intensely heartfelt film on the value of simplicity, selflessness and faith that I often feel is lost these days on organized religion for the most part. A wonderful film from Rossellini.
February 26, 2011
A episodic look at portions of the life of St. Francis and his followers. These episodes all have moral themes. St. Francis himself is son of a wealthy family, but has given this up to be completely devoted to God. Nevertheless, we see St. Francis and his followers as they meet a variety of individuals throughout including a leper, men who kill because of money and, in the films most entertaining portion, how Friar Ginapro nearly gets himself killed by a rowdy group of Medieval men. The naturalistic film style of Roberto Rossellini works beautifully in this film capturing the essence of the 14th century despite not having a large budget. Co-scripted with Federico Fellini.
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2010
More of a visual book than a movie, this film discusses episodes in the life of St. Francis of Assisi by means of "chapters", each of which is subtitled by a description of what will happen in this section. It's a gentle film in many ways, following the priests as they live their rural lives -- cooking, ministering, gardening, and praying. There is a substory about one of Francis' followers who has more devotion to his calling than common sense, and there is some comedy (not to a mention a couple of scenes a little tough to watch) in his mistakes and misinterpretations of Francis' teachings. Since I'm not very religious, let alone Catholic, I probably didn't get as much out of it as someone more devout would have. But I still feel that Rossellini did a lovely job with this film.
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