"I am a member of the Franciscan Third Order and fell in love with this movie back when I was only 13. (I'm now 34) This movie is definitely a product of the 60's - but the message is timeless. I feel badly that the review by Amazon was so discouraging. I would not want anyone to read that and make a judgement. The movie represents, in my opinion, the true beauty of the Franciscan charism. The joy, simplicity and love that our Saint Francis embodied. I felt that Mr. Faulkner was an EXCELLENT choice for the lead role - he couldn't have been any closer to what I imagine Francis being. The director, Franco Zeffirelli, has done notable films ("Endless Love" NOT among his best). If you are a fan of the famous "Jesus of Nazareth", then I would suggest viewing this. In any case, this is a wonderful little film to get you acquainted with this timeless saint.One bit of trivia - Sir Alec Guinness wanted to play the part of the Pope - as he had just converted to Catholicism not long before the making of this film. :-)Hope this rudimentary review helped!"
A Light for the World, the Spirit and the Heart
Daniel Y. Graybeal | Newark, Delaware USA | 12/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After two weeks and four viewings of this simple but surprisingly rich and powerfully moving film about the early life of St. Francis of Assisi, its stirring music lingers in my ears, its hopeful message still aflame within my heart.How does one rate movies? I choose five main categories: the filming, characters, musical score, development, and theme. All elements are related, so I conclude with overall remarks.I see this film as primarily a religious one, with heavy emphasis upon personal development. Thus, I was pleased to see effective focus of the camera upon the facial expressions of the characters. For example, the eyes of Alec Guinness's Pope Innocent III clearly show me his great warmth and concern for young Francis as he asks the Holy See for his advice. Francis's eyes likewise convey his deep humility and sincerity. Pietro, ripping his bread from his jaws as he eats, reveals his fury raging uncontrollably. The filming also glorifies the fabulous scenery of Italy and the majestic colors of spring.As for characters, the main question I always have is, are they believable? Can we identify with them? Even with Faulkner's Francis, to a certain extent (he was a saint, after all), I say yes. That he seems to have been "bought out" by Paulo at the papal court shows his human nature. Giocondo's reluctantly joining Francis and Bernardo, perhaps weighing contingencies, is not unlike what I might have done in his shoes.The music? It was 1972, so Donovan was a good choice, but his score fitted well with one of Francis's life themes: simplicity. Francis's real-life musicians would likewise have sounded imperfect, which made the film more real for me. The instrumental music is breathtaking, sweet and stirring to the bone marrow. The hymns are simple and joyful enough to have established themselves in my ears even above the music of the Christmas season. While organ music didn't exist in 1206 A.D., it might have been added to reach a modern audience that might be alienated to Gregorian chanting. Historical realism is not the film's main goal, although the effects were well enough done to have earned it an Academy Award nomination.Do the characters and plot develop enough to keep interest? In many of the characters I see the step-like change associated with the impact of profound religious influence. Francis, from pampered cloth-trade heir to tattered, mendicent friar is most striking. Powerful is his change of heart, from frivolous and selfish to pointedly purposeful and sacrificial lover of humanity and, indeed, all life. Bernardo, ever loyal, comes to realize what this loyalty must mean after his return from war. The bishop moves as a chess piece: forward in being humbled by Francis's example, backward in yielding to the powers of state.Most importantly, I think, is the theme for this film. Although its messages are primarily religious, I feel it still reaches out to all audiences. The quest for purpose in life is inherently a religious quest. Francis seems to have made Jesus more accessible to tens of generations of Christians, even more so with this touching film. The compassionate and activist spirit in which he imitated the gospels has encouraged me to dig deeper to find Christ's meanings as he did.Overall, this is a beautiful movie, one I would see a hundred times. I chant its hymns with exuberance. I am propelled by the flame it rekindled in my bosom to live more like Jesus, less afraid to reach out to people. I felt ten years younger watching Francis's reckless abandon. Yes, reviews are polarized between Sappy Movie Award to Best I've Seen Award, perhaps as much so as the generation who saw it first in the 1970s. A sensitive hero Faulkner's Francis is, but one with an iron rod of dedication. Most negative reviews focus on the film's technical aspects, while the positive reviews expound on the effect it has had on the viewer's heart and life's renewed sense of purpose and vigor."
A truly inspiring and enlightening cinema masterpiece
Daniel Y. Graybeal | 02/19/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How refreshing it is to see Brother Sun, Sister Moon once again, twenty-six years since the film's original release! In our 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, even though only on video. With beautiful, colorful cinematography of actual locations; augmented by fine performances and a skillful scenario which is enhanced by Donovan's music of the kinder and gentler times of the Flower Child/Hippie era, this production is a wondrous blend which totally works in celebrating the life of a mystical man who worshipped the Creator through nature. Graham Faulkner's portrayal of St. Francis is sensitive and moving; running the gamut from madness to spiritual ecstacy to the realization of the virtues of simplicity. The young actor's sterling performance from 1973 is one which will always be remembered through this film. My only regret about the production is the fact that Donovan's music was never released as an audial soundtrack recording. Certainly, the original music is reminiscent of the Flower Child era; with lyrics that are beautifully melded, in some instances, with actual words of the First Franciscan, but what better music would be so perfectly representative of the Peace and Love which St. Francis practiced? I would certainly like to have a recording of this 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"
Brother Sun, Sister Moon, a cult film
Helen Malone | Albuquerque | 04/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has been seen and loved by thousands of people... I own the film and view it again and again. It is considered a cult film, one that is loved by individuals who strive to live the values of St. Francis is a very technological, hectic and busy world. Viewing this movie at least once a year will bring you back to what life is really about. The simplicity of God's creation and the innocence of love. Tis is a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free. The music by Donovan is glorious and I have recently been searching for a music CD of this film. Look at the birds of the air, they do not have to go to college or work 40 hours a week, but our heavenly creator feeds them and cares for them, as should we. The message of St. Francis is timeless."
"Throw It All Away!" ~ A Divine Ideal
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 07/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this movie in 1976 and immediately fell in love with it. Now some twenty-nine years later I can honestly say it hasn't lost much of its initial impact on me. While I won't go so far as to say that it played a part in my conversion to Catholicism, I will say that it provided me with a 'divine ideal' of what being Catholic should be about.
While it's true that the sixties hippie movement was a little too influential in Franco Zeffirelli's re-imagining of the young, nature loving saint, it doesn't take too much effort to simply acknowledge those cultural elements and move past them. Of course the Donovan music in the soundtrack may make it a little difficult for some.
Another often heard complaint concerns a number of historical inaccuracies within the script. I'd like to point out that the main function of a movie is to entertain. I don't know of any movie based on a real person or true event that is completely accurate. When you watch a movie a certain amount of artistic freedom with the storyline should be a given.
What we do have in 'Brother Sun, Sister Moon' is a film of overpowering innocence and spiritual purity. It's a story of one man's vision of the "Life of Christ" and his commitment to living that vision to its fullest. Coupled with some of the most amazing scenic footage of the Italian countryside you'll ever see Zefirelli has given us not only a moving spiritual document but a visual feast not soon to be forgotten.
Praise should also be given to a young cast, most of whom I've never seen in anything else. Graham Faulkner "is" Saint Francis as far as I'm concerned. Leigh Lawson was superb as his best friend Bernardo, as was Judi Bowker as the lovely Clare."