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The Flowers of St. Francis (The Criterion Collection)

3.9 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In a series of simple and joyous vignettes, director Roberto Rossellini and co-writer Federico Fellini lovingly convey the universal teachings#of humility, compassion, faith, and sacrifice#of the People#s Saint. Shot in a neorealist manner, with monks from the Nocere Inferiore monastery playing the roles of St. Francis and his disciples, The Flowers of St. Francis is a timeless and moving portrait of the search for spiritual enlightenment.

Special Features

  • In Italian with English subtitles
  • New, restored high-definition transfer
  • New video interviews with Isabella Rossellini, film historian Adriano Apra, and film critic Father Virgilio Fantuzzi
  • The American-release prologue, situating the film in its historical context
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • 36-page collectible booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Aldo Fabrizi, Gianfranco Bellini, Peparuolo, Severino Pisacane, Roberto Sorrentino
  • Directors: Roberto Rossellini
  • Writers: Roberto Rossellini, Antonio Lisandrini, Brunello Rondi, Federico Fellini, Félix Morlión
  • Producers: Angelo Rizzoli, Antonio Monda, Fumiko Takagi, Giuseppe Amato, Jonathan Turell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 23, 2005
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009WIE2U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,521 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Flowers of St. Francis (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Roberto Rossellini was moved by his concern with the cynicism and despair of postwar Europe. His Saint Francis offers an answer of old-fashioned simplicity and innocence to counteract the slyness and cunning of modern world (paraphrasing the booklet). It's an idealistic film. A film of vulnerable and unashamed idealism -like his monks-.

This film was doomed to be misunderstood, if not dismissed as retrograde in its values, or simply ignored. But Christian values don't cease to exist just because we don't see them practised on the silly box. The evidence is that Rossellini has put them in front of our modern eyes and they still make the same impression on us: they are the right -righteous- values. Times don't change, just as values don't change, only the will of the people to accept or deny them.

The question we face in this movie is: How do we apply these values of innocence, purity, unselfishness, meekness, and charity to modern times? Do they change with the times or do they mean the same as they did in the 13th century? Evidently it's us who have changed not the concepts. Why? Because watching this film Rossellini has made us identify with the Franciscan monks, with their unselfish love and innocence; he has made us see the world -even though a long gone world- with our present day eyes and we have -hopefully most of us- identified with them.

Why aren't there any more people like them today? I think there are. If only they would make movies about them. If at least we agree that those Christian values shown to us in the film are good, immutable and worthy to be pursued yesterday as much as today, we have a premise to work with. Then, the next step would be to conclude that pursuing those values are the right and laudable thing to do; at least to try to do.
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Be sure and read Rossellini's intro before you watch the movie. I did not and stopped watching less than half way through the film. After finally reading his introduction, I found the film absorbing and satisfying. Rossellini's objective was, briefly, to bring St. Francis, his beliefs and his enviornment to us as he believes they really were without acceding to preconceptions. And he does it with his usual brillance. Finally, there is an interview with his daughter, Isabella, which is worth the price of the DVD. I expect this movie will be watched for hundreds of years.
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One of the Vatican's favorite films (though that in itself perhaps doesn't mean much anymore), "The Flowers of St. Francis" is a 1950 meditative film by Rossellini, who worked with Fellini on this near-transcendent motion picture. No one I know has seen this; less manage to sit through the entire thing (even though its only 87 minutes long), but this is not supposed to be an action-packed adventure. Instead, it's a quiet, simple tale of monks and their beliefs steeped in divine love for the Infinite, and is divided into heartwarming little vignettes. While St. Francis is indeed the focus of the film, it also pays loving attention to his disciples, most notably Brother Ginepro, and the actor who plays this role deserves special mention.

A lot is written about St. Francis (who lived during the 1200s), and he is a personal source of inspiration for all of us who are spiritually inclined, only because he was patron saint of nature, and strived to teach his disciples about the essence of the Bible rather than blindly following its' tenets. His disciples were often simple-minded, almost always not well-educated, but they had hearts of gold, and the director focuses on this aspect of their lives more than anything else. Filmed in black and white and presented beautifully by the Criterion Collection, this is indeed one of their Top 10 releases ever. Sadly, I suppose, this film is wrongly considered `boring' by mainstream audiences who cant muster up the patience to sit through a work of this nature.

The vignettes here are all from the famed St. Francis book - little allegorical tales from various parts of his life. Most of them concern him and his monks' fervent belief that divine love conquers all - even to the extent of sacrificing their own physical well-being for the concept.
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Rossellini is an extraordinary director (for a good introduction to his work see M. Scorsese's, My Voyage to Italy) His treatment of St.Francis is unlike any other screen version I have seen, and in my view, irreplaceable.It is based on "I Fioretti" very early collection of stories that grew up among the first followers and is really more about the effect Francis had on them than it is a "biography" of the saint. It that way it is more like a "gospel," an excited, almost unbelievable, account of how he changed people's lives. It is not the place to go to get the basic facts, but if you want to get right to the "truth" of this person who changed western culture fundamentally, then this might well be the place to go. For a very effective contemporary retelling of some the Fioretti stories, try Murray Bodo's Tales of St. Francis.The film is also a great display of Rossellini's revolutionary cinematic realism. A real classic. Enjoy!
P.S. after writing this I read the other reviews. They make clear the range of possible reaction both on the human level and the artistic. I don't have any quarrel with (almost) any of them. I would just say that there is a great deal going on here regarding both the person and film, so if you are just getting acquainted with either aspect, look around a bit before making up your mind for yourself.
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