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Fratello sole, sorella luna
Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)
  • Director:
    Franco Zeffirelli
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Suso Cecchi D'Amico,Kenneth Ross
  • Cast:
    Graham Faulkner,Judi Bowker,Leigh Lawson
  • Time:
    2h 2min
  • Budget:
  • Year:
This is a dramatization of events in the life of St. Francis of Assisi from before his conversion experience through his audience with the pope, including his friendship with St. Clare.
Credited cast:
Graham Faulkner Graham Faulkner - St. Francis of Assisi
Judi Bowker Judi Bowker - Clare
Leigh Lawson Leigh Lawson - Bernardo
Kenneth Cranham Kenneth Cranham - Paolo
Lee Montague Lee Montague - Pietro Di Bernardone
Valentina Cortese Valentina Cortese - Pica Di Bernardone
Alec Guinness Alec Guinness - Pope Innocent III
Michael Feast Michael Feast - Silvestro
Nicholas Willatt Nicholas Willatt - Giocondo
John Sharp John Sharp - Bishop Guido
Adolfo Celi Adolfo Celi - Consul
Francesco Guerrieri Francesco Guerrieri - Deodato
Peter Firth Peter Firth
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rossano Attrotico Rossano Attrotico
Pierre Baldini Pierre Baldini - (as Piero Baldini)

Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)

According to Franco Zeffirelli's autobiography, The Beatles were asked to appear in this movie in the main roles, but were unable due to scheduling conflicts. Zeffirelli also screentested Al Pacino for the role of Francesco, but rejected him due to his theatrical overacting style.

The dye stains on his clothes (red and blue) are linked to the city colors of Assisi. The flags on the soldiers show a red/blue vertical split.

Sir Laurence Olivier turned down the role of Pope Innocent III.

Theatrical movie debut of Peter Firth.

The scene in which St. Francis renounces his birthright was filmed in the forecourt of the Church of San Rufino in a portion of Assisi across town from the Basilica of St. Francis. The church of the Porciuncula was a set built in a meadow. The interior of the Pope's church was built on a soundstage in the studio, but the massive depiction of Christ that was behind and above the Pope's throne is an actual mosaic from a church in Sicily which was matted into the shot.

Theatrical movie debut of Leigh Lawson (Bernardo).

Irish actor Frank Grimes was originally chosen to play St. Francis (one Francis for another), but Director Franco Zeffirelli changed his mind at the last minute, and went with Graham Faulkner instead.

Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso was also considered for the lead role.

According to Robin Askwith's memoirs, Askwith was cast in this, but he was fired.

Lynne Frederick auditioned for the role of Clare, and was first runner up.

Candace Glendenning auditioned for the role of Clare. She was deemed too exotic looking for the part.

from earth
from earth
This comment discusses the English version

BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON was the first film I had seen in my life. I was 10 at the time when it was on Polish TV (before 1989 such films were censored by communists). The feelings I had are hard to express with words. I loved everything about it, music, story, cast, scenery, everything.

Now, in 2004, when I see it again, I must admit that most of its splendor is gone. Where is this admiration? ... However, in spite of some faded emotions, it is still a film which I consider pleasure seeing again. Is there something magical about it?

I think that what makes me, personally, fond of it are four most basic factors: the director himself, Franco Zeffirelli, whom I have always admired for his "artistic soul", the story, far from the true, but still moving and retaining the gist of Francesco's life - love to God and His creatures, the music by Ken Thorne and sung by Donovan (especially the title song), and scenery in which the movie was shot.

Franco Zeffirelli chose excellent cast. Graham Faulkner was very much like Saint Francis: these profound eyes, smile full of love. WONDERFUL. Alec Guiness was also excellent. His role of pope Innocent is really unforgettable. Others, including Lee Montague (Pietro Bernardone), Leigh Lawson (Bernardo) and Valentina Cortese (Pica) also give memorable performances. Whenever I watch other films about Francesco, I can't get used to other faces than theirs from this film.

The story is very different. I don't know why Zeffirelli changed it so much. In fact, Francesco did not leave his family like that. What is more, he was a great "Lover" of the Holy Cross, which I can't find in this film. However, one forgets about all these mistakes when the scene with the pope comes on screen. A Polish movie critic said that it is the most moving scene in the history of cinema. This viewpoint is, definitely, overdone, but there is some truth in it. The mosaic of Monreale Pantocrator looking deeply into everyone's eyes, pope's dream and second calling of Francesco and finally his blessing to the amazement of others - the film is worth watching for thanks to this scene alone. You will not regret.

The last factor, scenery, is also worth considering. Film's Assisi is a lovely Italian town of San Gimignano, the hills of Umbria are replaced by Piano Grande, a parish church of Assisi by an old medieval abbey of Sant' Antimo, and finally a Roman basilica - the cathedral of Monreale - a real masterpiece of Norman - Byzantine art in Sicily (10 kilometers from Palermo). The locations in which this film was shot are, indeed, one of the best ever.

Finally, if the above advantages did not fully talk for this movie, there is one more - its message. The message of love, forgiveness and respect for nature is extremely important nowadays. Films which promote it, and one of them is, undoubtedly, BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON, are a real treasure of cinema. And this movie does it mostly by the power of flower and song.

I will end this review with a prayer of Saint Francis. Think about it. If we all copy these words to our lives, the world will be much better to live in:

"Lord make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow LOVE

Where there is injury, let me sow PARDON,

Where there is doubt, let me sow FAITH,

This is in GIVING that WE RECEIVE

This is in PARDONING that we are PARDONED

This is in DYING that we are BORN

The filmography by Zefirelli is stunningly beautiful -- one of his best -- a masterpiece worthy of a Florentine artist (Zefirelli's home city).

Being an admirer of Francis of Assisi, I've seen several films which attempt to portray his life. This is the only one, in my opinion, which successfully captures the incredible SPIRIT of the man. It's a movie to experience with the heart rather than the head. It has made a lasting impact on my own faith and spirituality since I first saw it in Italy in the early eighties.

The Italian version of 'Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna' is edited differently and has the beginning scenes in an order slightly different from the English version.

Note: It's helpful to know something about the life of Saint Francis before viewing the film. Since it centers on his spiritual rebirth in Christ, it's rather sparse in other historical details of his life. Zefirelli assumes that the viewer already knows these -- as most Italians would. For example, when Francis first stands in silence and awe before the crucifix in the ruined church of San Damiano, Zefirelli assumes you know that this is the moment of Francis' conversion, that this is when Francis first heard Christ say, "Rebuild my church."

Aspect ratio: 1.75:1

Sound format: Mono

The early life of St. Francis of Assisi (Graham Faulkner), the son of a wealthy merchant who underwent a spiritual conversion following his experiences in the crusades and later renounced his worldly goods before establishing a holy order separate from traditional Church teachings.

Conceived and executed in much the same visual manner as his ultra-popular ROMEO AND JULIET (1968), Franco Zeffirelli's BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON attempts to draw parallels between the work and philosophy of St. Francis and the ideology which underpinned the worldwide hippy movement throughout the 1960's and early 70's. Hence the ragged-but-lyrical cinematography (by Ennio Guarnieri), fractured editing (by Reginald Mills), and the use of contemporary - but strangely timeless - folk songs written and performed by Donovan, all of which conjures the requisite mood of spiritual awakening whilst simultaneously dating the movie quite firmly within its period. Cynics will hate it, while others will embrace Zeffirelli's defiant romanticism. Daringly, Zeffirelli's script (co-written by Suso Cecchi d'Amico and Lina Wertmuller) contrasts Francis' piety and virtue with the bloated pomp of official Church doctrine, weighed down by internal politics and social indifference, though it's difficult to gauge if this represents a veiled attack on Christian orthodoxy or is simply a reflection of Francis' dismissal of outdated customs in favor of a return to Nature.

Lovingly crafted by Lorenzo Mongiardino (art direction) and Danilo Donati (costumes), the movie is toplined by a cast of gifted newcomers and screen veterans, including Judi Bowker (one of the most beautiful actresses of her generation), Leigh Lawson, Kenneth Cranham, Valentina Cortese and Alec Guinness. But the film derives much of its strength from Faulkner as the young, battle-scarred nobleman laid low by his wartime experiences, who emerges from the horrors of conflict with a completely new and spiritual outlook on life. Faulkner was one of a handful of young actors (including FELLINI-SATYRICON's Hiram Keller and LISA AND THE DEVIL's Alessio Orano) who emerged from European cinema in the 1970's, handsome and talented in equal measure, to burn brightly and briefly before disappearing into relative obscurity. Here, Faulkner's intense beauty and fresh-faced innocence are illuminated by Guarnieri's worshipful camera and Zeffirelli's attentive direction, which places him center-stage throughout (there's even a generous, PG-level nude scene halfway through the movie). This was Faulkner's cinematic debut, and while Zeffirelli couldn't have made a better choice for such a crucial role, the director later described him as slightly aloof from his fellow actors, which may explain his subsequent retreat from showbusiness. But here, his grace and dignity are displayed in abundance, and it's hard not to fall in love with him, every time he appears on-screen.

The alternative Italian version (FRATELLO SOLE SORELLA LUNA) runs approximately 14 minutes longer and replaces Donovan's music with a fully orchestral score by Riz Ortolani. In related events, editor Mills produced a 16mm documentary entitled FRANCO ZEFFIRELLI: A FLORENTINE ARTIST (1973), compiled from footage shot during the making of the movie, featuring a lengthy interview with the director himself.
Upon seeing this movie in my young 20s, I fell in love (metaphorically speaking) with St. Francis of Assisi and the simple message of life that he practiced. Though many of the absolute facts were stretched, like in most "historic" films, the movie was completely on the mark about his simplicity and his love of nature and mankind. In addition, it gave a very plausible and probable glimpse of the love relationship he had with St. Clare, all in contrast with the idea of love and sexuality which we have in these times.

Though the Italian version soundtrack was not by Donovan, the English language songs he sang gave the movie great focus and support. I often wondered why it was only issued on vinyl in Italy, which is how I discovered Donovan's songs were not present. The music is sensitive and wonderful.

Both young actors, Bowker & Faulkner, fill their roles with perfection. Bowker is one of the most beautiful and sensitive young actresses of that period, so it is with wonder that she was not more utilized or popular.

Yes, the film does have the allegorical connection with the hippie movement, but that does not diminish the story nor the impact. In fact, rather, it parallels our times and served to connect me with the times of Francis, if that is possible.

Finally, Zeffirelli deserves a thanks for tackling this saint with compelling zeal, passion, sensitivity, and panache. As another reviewer here noted, the scenery will blow you away. And as a child of the 50s who grew up in the late 60s, this movie offset the idea of love having to be of a sexual nature, and elevated love to a plane where it becomes transcendent and transforming. Isn't that what love is supposed to do in our lives? I have had my own 2 sons watch it with me more than once as they were growing up, and they are mid-20s now.

It will be a hard film to find, but is viewable for any age without reservations and is well worth the search. (It is now available on DVD for around $10 or less.)
Oh yes, we can look at this as a parable of the "hippies" and an anti-war, anti-establishment film (as if those are somehow "bad" things.) It is all that. Any director who cannot interpret through the lenses of his time is not a very good director. Zefferelli is a master at it. It may make the movies seem dated but that also is a sign of mastership as we see the life of Francis and also see life in the Vietnam era 1970s. The movie itself is hauntingly filmed in a dreamlike manner. It tells the story of Francis who we will later know as Saint Francis Of Assissi. It is not an attempt to tell the complete story of the saint, but to use episodes from his life to speak to the culture of the time. It is not a biography so much as it is an interpretation.
I just wanted to comment on the film, mainly because the one other commentator stated that the film was terrible. I happen to like the film. Sure, there are moments when it is a bit too saccharine, but it is still worth viewing. The cinematography is superb, and I think the music score is AMAZING. It is simple with a folk-song quality that I think fits with Saint Francis's teachings. I only wish there were a soundtrack available; I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I agree with the other commentator that there is nothing really "new" added to the story of Saint Francis; however, the story is a good story without something "new" added to it. I do wish that the film could have been a bit "grittier"; what I mean is, sometimes in the film, Saint Francis comes across as if he were so kind and gentle that he is floating or mindless. I wish the film could have shown the harsh realities that Saint Francis would have faced. Overall, the film is beautiful. Don't miss it.
This is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Whenever I feel down or my energy lags, I pop this film into my VCR and I'm transformed. The rythm of the movie is what I enjoy most. It is like a great symphony, with rising action that compliments the wonderful music by Donovan.

This is a film that is totally captive to its time and place. It's impossible to think of this movie being made five years earlier or later. It is completely a product of the early '70's. The brotherly love shown by the Franciscans of Assisi, the touching of man to man without a hint of homosexuality, would be unthinkable today.

Franco Zeffrelli is a master of setting up his camera and location shooting. Notice the great sweeps over the lovely red and yellow fields of Italy, and the use of the architecture of the region.
Three things of interest here.

The first is cinematic. I am engaged in a movie indexing project that will likely go open source. There are a few beginning qualities I've been working on. I think I will add architectural cloth, as this film reminds me. Its main cinematic device — other than the ordinary ones — is the use of cloth to denote notions of eye, story, vision. There are four specific episodes here as well as the general acting style where the actors have been directed to act into their clothes.

The second is largely historical and probably will only be appreciated by old farts like me. I can't quite explain the extent of the Beatles influence on the late sixties. There just hasn't been anything like it since then. They were more than admired and emulated, they were spiritual leaders. They were serious about this if not altogether willing, and that comment about being more "popular" than Jesus wasn't an offhand statement. In 1968, they were in Rishikesh, India seriously putting together something that they thought was attuned to cosmic structure. It was, in a sense. With them were a few Beach Boys and Donovan.

Around this time they were approached by Zeffirelli to take roles in his "Brother Moon" project. They would have; Paul was the fellow behind the movie projects (and most else) and he truly wanted to. But this was the time of the breakup. So what happened was Zefferelli make the film with ordinary actors and Donovan's music composed with The Beatles at Rishikesh. So at least, this is an echo of the profound influence they had, perhaps as profound as Francis, and perhaps as compromised by the surrounding institutions.

The third has to do with the church. How strange it is that the two most spiritually deep "Biblical" films (in my experience) were made by two gay Italians. These were men (Zeffirelli and Pasolini) not welcome in their chosen world, in fact persecuted for their being, persecuted by their own faith. And they would be even more today as the leadership has "gotten tough with queers."

Lots of lessons here. I first saw this by an aesthetic hippie in about 73 who was carrying a worn print around from town to town to show it in coffeehouses, small ashrams and any alley he could find a spot in.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who has doubts based on Roman Catholicism, is mentally upset, seeking inner peace, seminarians, those who have received the Calling & just anyone who would care to take the time to dig up this movie & watch it. This movie has inspired me a lot, more than i can ever imagine, because it compelled me to become a Priest not once, but THRICE!!! This is truly an awesome masterpiece, but can surely be regarded as one of the unsung heroes, where movies are concerned. This movie takes you to a place far away from the troubles & anxieties of the present. I'm inspired by it, I know you will too... Plz don't hesitate to contact me, my e-mail address is [email protected]
Just a few comments to add to the many fine comments already written by people who like this movie, as I do.

The DVD is very good overall for its quality of sound and color. The subtitles include neither any Latin, nor the lyrics for any of the songs performed by someone off-screen; but the captions are nearly perfect, including all the lyrics, and lacking only the Latin. The following numbers about the shape of the screen are my own best guesses. The original movie was presented in a 1.66:1 (about 5:3 = 15:9) aspect ratio, but the DVD version is made to fit a modern 16:9 wide screen (about 1.77:1, though a previous reviewer gives 1.75:1 as the ratio for the movie). In order to do this, 1/16th (about 7%) of the vertical had to be shaved-off the original movie; some was taken from the top, and some from the bottom. This definitely hurts a few of the scenes, but overall people who like this movie should be very happy to have the DVD.

In the scene just before the meeting with the pope, a former friend of Francis chases after him and tries to convince him not to go to Rome. The former friend begins to insult Francis and his way of life. This short speech is excellent writing, as is much of the rest of the screenplay. It ends with this: "You just saunter out of your house one fine morning and pluck God out of the air, as easily as catching a butterfly. It's all too simple!" This line may not have been nominated for the AFI top 100 list this year, but it is one of the finest I've ever heard in a movie. (I don't know whether it is original with this screenplay or was borrowed from tradition.)

Some lay-order (Third Order) Franciscans told me that they object to the role of Francis being done in this movie by a gay actor. Other people object to Francis being portrayed as a flower-child. My own understanding is that indeed there is no reason to think that the real Francis was gay; and that he was probably not so pretty or so much like a 1960s flower-child as presented in the movie. But I do not agree with those above-mentioned objections: the movie does a very good job of dramatizing in a lyrical way the spirit and times of Francis.
sunrise bird
sunrise bird
I finally ordered the video after renting it a dozen times! This film captures the essence of what I have read about St. Francis of Assisi. Faulkner, Bowker, and of course Alec Guinnes shine in their roles. I recognized the actress who played Francis' mother as the same actress who played Herodias in Jesus of Nazareth. Yes, it is a movie of the "flower children", but it is sincere and faultless. After so many viewings I even got used to Donovan! Zeffirelli did a wonderful job of directing, bringing out beautiful pieces of acting from all. The scene at the end with Pope Innocent III, Francis and his little band was as powerful as anything I've seen in film, religious or not. IMDB lists this film as Graham Faulkner's one and only! What happened to him I wonder?
This is an excellent film, thought provoking, and beautiful portrayal of the life of Francis of Assisi. People sometimes criticise the film for the "flower power" scene with the music of Donovan in the background and it is perhaps a little over the top. But it is nevertheless perhaps a good modern take on the message of Francis regarding the love of and respect for nature. The music strikes a chord with the period in which it was made and anyway to focus simply on that one scene and avoid the rest of a finely crafted and beautiful take on the life of Francis and his challenge (still) to the materialism of the life of his time and our own - this makes for an excellent film. Hugely recommended. Out on DVD at last!!
Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the most appealing figures in Christianity, is portrayed in this movie as a flower child romping his way through Umbria in the early 13th century to the groovy music of Donovan. Such a movie could only have been made in the early '70's!

All flippancy aside, though, this is a stunningly beautiful movie which captures the joyous and generous spirit of Il Povorello himself. Although some of the more severe aspects of Francis' life are not ignored (his vision of Christ's sufferings and his fearfully tough asceticism, for example), these are downplayed in favor of Francis' joy in creation and his almost limitless love for God. The sense of time and place are also beautifully portrayed.

Even so, watching this movie, one can't forget that it was made in 1972. The movie drips with the sensibility of that time, and Francis' opponents are two-dimensional characters meant to represent the Establishment. ("It's so _plastic_, man!") Bishop Guido is given particularly short shrift here; the real life bishop was very sympathetic to Francis, and gave him more support and understanding than the movie would have us think.

Minor complaints, though. This movie definitely has its heart in the right place.
Once upon a time, as legend would have it, there was a time when we set aside our material concerns and lived in harmony and brotherhood. This was not in the time of Francis, but in that period from the Summer of Love until the Nixon resignation. Although this period encompassed about as much of the seventies, we now refer to it as "The Sixties".

Much good came of this time, but there were also many simplistic expressions of its spirit. Such is "Brother Sun, Sister Moon", which is not really about Francis at all, but uses Francis as a metaphor to express the ideals of the Flower Power movement. With his love of nature, and his will to eschew the trappings of material acquisition, Francis was the patron saint of the Woodstock era. In essence, this movie is "Hair" without the hair.

Viewed through today's more cynical prism, the movie seems laughably naive. I didn't laugh, but I cringed in embarrassment many times. I think the worst moment must be the anachronism when Francis and his little congregation sing Donovan songs at their country Mass (this is contrasted to the somber, opulent, silent ritual of the "official" Mass in town). In effect, they start to sing along with the musical score. Remember "folk masses"? Francis invented them.

Donovan, the ultimate hippie, wrote the entire musical score and I must say it is the single worst score I have ever heard in a movie. What could have possessed Zefferelli to use this music exclusively?

The script is among the worst I have ever encountered. It is nothing but the cliches ripped from the "Lives of the Saints" that can be found in any Catholic elementary school library. There is not one original or thoughtful moment. The acting catches no complexities or nuances at all. Francis and Chiara are straight out of a high school play ... an idealized concept of innocence like the faces in a Keane painting. Any Franciscan viewing this movie would question his vocational choice of belonging to an order founded by a simpleton.

The good news is that the movie was filmed by Zefferelli. Whatever other faults it may have, it ranks as among the BEST filmed movies you'll see. Virtually any single frame could be extracted and made into an award-winning photograph. There is no randomness, nothing is left to chance. Every camera angle, ever zoom, the placement of every extra in every frame is perfectly calculated and choreographed. Watch it in stop-motion, and you'll be dazzled by the composition of each image. (Incidentally, I think the real St Francis would probably have said "you may set up your camera, but we'll just be ourselves")

If I had a brilliant period script, I would gladly hire Zefferelli to film it. Unfortunately for Zefferelli, Shakespeare didn't write a script pertaining to this subject.
This film gives us an ideal figure of a Christian. Yes, Francesco of Assisi is a true follower of Christ. He is a spiritual disciple of Yeshua Ben Yosef (Jesus). The movie tells us about it beautifully. Francesco was a Crusader. When he returned from the holy land, he realizes that war and killing is wrong, even if it's done by the name of God. Just like the sage that experience "enlightenment", Francesco aware that Jesus Himself abandon luxurious materials and become poor. Francois also aware that even birds got food everyday without need to twine (work). He rejects the material pursuit of Catholic Church authorities and his society. Then he establishes his own monastery and in the end, the Pope himself sees that Francois is a "right" person. For me, this movie is worth to see for every spiritual seeker. I enjoy the scene when Francois do full nudity in front of inhabitants and force them to throw away their gold and other extravagant stuffs. I also enjoy when in the end Pope Innocent III bow in front of Francesco and kiss his feet. The pretty panorama of Italian mountains and flower plain is attracted me so much. Nothing technically novel from this film. It's more Hollywood than Neo-Realism. It's easy to understand, yet, it is so poetic. I very recommended this movie for everyone who wants to follow/be acquainted with Christ. Brother Sun and Sister Moon can help you awaken your sleeping heart. Brother Wind and Sister Air can sublime your awareness. Just hear their tunes…
It's so easy
It's so easy
This film captures a life that responds to the corruption and evil of this world with love and an embrase of life, creation and the giver of all good things.

It shows that becoming a saint involves working through what it means to be human. It shows the real interaction of men who aspire to go beyond the limits of their flesh and blood onto a realm where the Spirit is their guide.

The film shows how architecture and serving the poor can build together. How sensitivity to God brings us to intimacy with his creation and compassion for people.

This is a classic film. Do not miss it.

Frans of Asissi is transformed into someone who can see the beauty in all Gods creatures. By being humble, loving and by going his own way, living a simple life, he shows us a way to God. This movie inspired me to become a vegetarian and to more fully enjoy the simple things in life.
I work as a film critic in Mexico and let me tell you that i have seen a lot of movies from a lot of countries and this one changed my life. Brother Sun, Sister Moon is a movie that you have to feel it. I have seen another movie about St. Francis and this one is better, maybe its missing some info about his life but thats why this one is great,little peaces of his life tell you all you need to know about him. I love this film, watch it, you don't have to be Catholic or Chrisitan to feel the St. Francis love. Also I'm so happy that there is a new Zeffirelli movie about St. Francis!!! Please, let me know if you know when is the premiere.
This movie was really great. The San Damiano church looked very much like the real one. The woman who played Lady Pica did very well as Francis' mother, and the actors who played Francis and Clare were so sweet and likable, with such innocent faces. Graham Faulkner's soft voice was very fitting to the role. I do not think Francis and Clare could have been better portrayed, and the unity of the Franciscans was very convincing. All in all, this was an awesome movie.
I don't know what they could have done to make this film any better.

Graham Faulkner is perfectly cast, and Judi Bowker is the perfect Clare.

It's hard to believe that I walked out on it the first time I saw it on a double bill with "Siddhartha", another of my all time favorites. The opening scenes of warfare were violent and didn't suit my mood.

Fortunately for me, I went back into the theatre and watched this film in its entirety.

The settings are beautiful, the people are beautiful and the story makes your soul fly! See this film.

You'll be glad you did.
"Brother Sun, Sister Moon" is as refreshing today as it was when it was first released in 1972! In our rather cynical world of today, when it seems that the only fare available on the big screen contains an overabundance of violence, brashness and materialism; it is still a joy to behold this bright, outstanding and enlightening montage of Franco Zeffirelli's homage to St. Francis of Assisi. With beautiful, colorful cinematography of the Umbrian and Tuscan country sides; augmented by fine performances and skillful scenarios, this production is a wondrous blend which totally celebrates the life of a mystical man who revered the Creator through nature.

Graham Faulkner's portrayal of St. Francis is sensitive and moving; running the gamut from madness to spiritual ecstasy to the realization of the virtues of simplicity. The young actor's sterling performance is one which will always be remembered through this film. All of the supporting players turn in credible performances; especially Judi Bowker, Valentina Cortese, Kenneth Cranham, Michael Feast, Leigh Lawson and of course, Sir Alec Guinness. This film was produced during an era when some Biblical stories were explored and exhibited as flower child scenarios on the stage and on the screen.

In St. Francis' time, there were many troubadours who roamed throughout Europe as the only musical entertainment for the populace. Donovan's songs in the American version of the film are reminiscent of the Flower Child/Hippie troubadours of the 1960's and the 1970's; with lyrics that are beautifully melded, in some instances, with actual words of the First Franciscan; so what better music would be so perfectly representative of the Peace and Love which St. Francis practiced? Donovan's lyrics are not used in the Italian version of the film; rather, the lilting original score was created by Riz Ortolani and it works just as well. Ortolani's score weaves in and out of the American version with Donovan's songs and the complete Italian version is available on CD.

My only regret about the production is the fact that Donovan's memorable songs in this film were never released in an audio soundtrack recording. I would certainly like to have a CD of the Donovan score to play in my automobile, if only to create a sense of serenity while driving in the rude and mean-spirited traffic of Los Angeles! Even though it is a bit dated in its flower child style, this film remains a truly inspiring and enlightening cinema masterpiece; a celebration of youthful, original innocence.
Interesting trip in the world of a delicate Christianity. Coloured chalk picture of a time between tale and reality. Suggestions more that facts, mystery in spring shades.

To talk about Francis is very strange. He is not a saint like many others, he is not a historical hero who transformed a Church. He is, for many, the second Crist, patron of animals, bearer of Jesus stigmas, poor man, friend of sun and of wolf, who lives only like sign of God's love. So, it is not important if the movie is a masterpiece, if the script respects the authentic facts, if Francis or Clara are shadows of a old childhood's story. The truth is a insignificant detail and the essence is faith.

In fact, it is a slice of beauty. The scent of time, the beauty of nature and actors, the delicacy of gestures, the respect of tradition, the light, so important in this case makes a subtle, in his essence, portrait of Il Poverello. No great ambition but a sweet respect form for a lost golden age.
Wow. What a tremendously moving film! I found this film on sale at a local video store and decided to buy it on a whim. Then, I proceeded to watch it like 10 tens over 4 days! That's not an exaggeration, either. I was completely awestruck by how moving and inspirational this film is! There is a real sense of love and communion in this film. The folk tunes are haunting and really help to establish the film's atmosphere. This film was released in 1972, so it feels at times a product of the flower generation, but it is such a joyous film that I cannot stop watching it.

My favorite religious "musical" used to be Godspell (great songs, funny humor), but maybe Brother Sun, Sister Moon is my favorite now, although it is not strictly a musical but rather a dramatic film with many incidental songs or chants.

Anyways, you must check out this film! You will NOT regret it! Ed
Franco Zeffirelli is responsible for three of the greatest films ever made: 'Romeo and Juliet', 'Jesus of Nazareth' and 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon'. This film displays Zeffirelli's genius at it's clearest and is a perfect amalgamation of his other two films, 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Jesus of Narareth'. Ennio Guarnieri's photography is amazing. Any single frame is this movie is a work of art that could be framed and hung up on a wall. Like in his previous film 'Romeo and Juliet', Zeffirelli brings a a sense of urgency to this film. Donovan's music is beautiful even though he only wrote four of the songs. The rest of the songs, including 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon' were written by Italian composer Riz Ortolani. If you love 'Romeo and Juliet' or 'Jesus of Nazareth' you'll love this film.
This movie was a cult favourite in a repertory movie house in Montreal in the 70s. I understood why when I saw it on DVD format.

As we know Franco Zeffirelli, he did great with either Shakespeare flicks (Romeo and Juliet among others) or Jesus of Nazareth, nor he did not so with Endless Love.

This time he succeeded with the rendering of Francis of Assisi's life.

Back from the war, wounded emotionally, Francisco found peace by seeing a lark on the roof, and rejecting the luxuries of his father's business. He abandoned all this to a life of poverty and sacrifice, rebuilding a sanctuary with some friends who joined him on the way, including Clare, a former love interest of his. However, the higher clergy jealousy takes over him and his new order, Francis must ask for forgiveness to the leader of Christianity: Pope Innocent III.

With songs by Donovan and strong interpretation, beautiful photography and well written script, this is one of the best Christian stories ever told.

Now I understood why it was such a cult favourite.