Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Mario Adorf, Peter Berling, Paolo Bonacelli, Helena Bonham Carter, Andra Ferrol
Director: Liliana Cavani
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Similarly Requested DVDs
'STIGMATA' for believers!
Francisco J. Calderon | Mexico City, Mexico | 06/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Casting Mickey Rourke as St. Francis of Assisi makes as much sense as giving Doris Day the role of Medea! I mean, the guy looks old, flabby and tatooed; not at all your average "Poverello"!But maybe that's just the point director Liliana Cavani is trying to make: that someone as crass as Rourke can become an extraordinary saint but by the Grace of God. And if so, the movie works to perfection, avoiding the don't-worry-be-happy, life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries attitude of 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon'. This St. Francis suffers, has doubts and pays a heavy price for the life he seeks. It is perhaps too gloomy at times but certainly more accurate, and -I think- complements the Zeffirelli classic by showing the other side of this amazing man's persona.I bought this film because a cousin of mine who works at the Vatican recommended it to me. She told me the Pope was very distraught after seeing it, and that he even cried at the end. You may believe this or not (I do), but the movie is surely far more intense and thought-provoking that whatever the cretinous Mr. Maltin may say about it."
A Must See Film
Stephen Hand | MA, USA | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For some inexplicable reason, I completely missed this 1989 film about St. Francis directed by Liliana Cavani. I didn't even know it existed until this week when I happily stumbled upon it and rented it, only to view it last night for the very first time. Neither did I ever notice that Francesco, starring Mickey Rourke and Helena Bonham Carter, is one of the fifteen films listed on the 1995 Vatican film list in the category of "Religion." And it was placed high on that list for a good reason. It is simply the best cinematic retelling of the story of St. Francis I have ever seen. This may be due to the wonderful cinematography, which oscillates between the sunlight and torchlight shadows of the middle ages, and it may be due to it's period authenticity and lack of over-acting which is the bane of so many films about the poverello.
Unlike Franco Zeffirelli's movie, "Brother Sun-Sister Moon", which makes St. Francis appear something like a 60's founder of a hippie commune, Cavani makes St. Francis more human, a young virile man grasped by, and growing into, the awareness of God ---and his poor--- without glossing over that grace which leads him from curiosity about God and about human suffering to a radical love for simplicity rooted in creation and the cross. That radical love issues in a desire to alleviate that suffering whenever possible through works of mercy, all depicted movingly in this film. When Francesco holds a bowl, there is food in it for the poor.
It was this love for creation which possessed Francesco, a creation which pointed Francesco straightway to the Creator who was otherwise blissfully untutored in the sometimes bewildering details of theology. His school was the cross of Jesus which, upon conversion, he hugs so profoundly in this film. And he knew the Beatitudes, unlike, alas, so many America First Catholics in this country today who seem to prefer war to the call to be peacemakers and to the admonitions of the popes. For such, the peacemaking of St. Francis must seem impractical, madness; something to explain away rather than imitate.
Francis loved voluntary poverty and detachment from the bondage of the love for material things. Possessing nothing, he would possess all and give all.
While there are the usual and true encounters with the monstrosities of some hypocritical church leaders of the time in this movie, even one burning at the stake which utterly repels the future saint, Cavani also shows the true willingness of Francesco's bishop to give him a chance to show that he was not simply another heresy-prone enthusiast which plagued the Church at the time. This film is far from a subtle polemic with subtexts againt the Church. Francis is indeed a reformer, but, true to history, his was the reforming of a son, of a lover of the Church, not that of a bitter revolutionary. Like a true reformer he was always reforming first himself, striving against "the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life," (1 Jn 2:15-17).
In my opinion the younger Mickey Rourke, something of a bad boy of American films, does a splendid job in this film. His portrayal is at once utterly convincing and charming. Helena Bonham Carter as Clare has the lesser role, but her devotion to the saint is clear. Her cherubic face and eyes lend an innocence to the event which they, together, were and are.
I was reminded once again that the friars life with its eschatological dimension is a sign not only of the Kingdom of Heaven, but a call for us laypersons here and now. A call to simplicity, to love of Christ's poor, to peacemaking and the stewardship of creation. And it is ever a reminder that theology must be made flesh, not merely talked or written about. Do see the film. ----Stephen Hand, TCRNews.com
Inspiring, thoughtful, beautiful film
Stephen Hand | 01/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I picked up this film while researching the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Of the several films I've seen on his life, this is the best by far. I was not familiar with Mickey Rourke or his career, but it didn't take me long to realize that he is a very gifted actor. His portrayal of St. Francis was sensitive, contolled, subtle, but when the moment called for action, he was prepared and delivered. The film as a whole was magnificent -a true example of ensemble acting at its finest. One really got the nitty-gritty feeling of life in the 12th century, just as Europe was coming out of the Dark Ages and there was an explosion of change. G. K. Chesterton's book on the saint covers this in more detail.St. Francis and his little band of followers never intended to begin a world-wide movement of a monastic order, and his confusion, disappointment, and frustration at the response to his "rule" was palpable and heartbreaking. Each of the young men in the original group were as diverse as could be, yet they were all brought together under the loving care and friendship of Francis. The humor and antics balanced their rather grim existence and made them all the more human. There were moments of intense sadness, but also joy. Chiara's enigmatic smile at the end I will leave to your own interpretation. It was a superb touch to the ending of a stunning film."
A Much Maligned Masterpiece
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 12/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Francesco is one of my three favorite Mickey Rourke films, along with Year of the Dragon and Angel Heart. People tend to malign it for one of the following reasons: 1) they hate Mickey Rourke 2) they don't like the Christian themes 3) they like the Christian themes but are upset by the nudity 4) they don't like the way the film ends.
Regarding the Rourke haters, I feel they simply have no class. Mickey Rourke's career followed much the same path as Errol Flynn's, which is reason to malign him personally but not his work. Rourke in his heyday had a charisma and screen personality that rivaled Valentino, Flynn, or Bogart. Regarding the anti-Christians, you don't have to be a believer to enjoy the story of a remarkable man. As for the prudists, the nudity is brief and natural, nothing tasteless. Finally, as for the ending, in real life people who later were "sainted" (like Francesco d'Asisi) or "deified" (like Jesus) did not get carried away by angels. They experienced failures and then they died, often miserably and alone, just like everyone else. This film presented that cold reality much like it probably happened; that is precisely what makes it so poignant and relevant.
Francesco is an Italian film directed by Liliana Cavani. Rourke is American and co-star Helena Bonhan-Carter is English, but the rest of the cast is Italian save for the clerics who are primarily German actors. Italians have a long history of creating dubbed films (La Strada, A Fistfull of Dollars, etc) and so a dubbed version for Italian consumption was certainly released on the continent (no dubbing is evident on the English version here). The soundtrack is by Vangelis. The newer released version of the DVD currently in circulation has different artwork, is presented only in fullscreen, and has no captions or special features to speak of. But it's the only version available as of this writing so well worth the asking price.