Thursday, July 22, 2010
Francis and Clare DVD
This has by far been my favorite religious movie of this year. Francis and Clare have always been inspirational for me since my early twenties when I was terribly idealistic in religious matters, and especially matters of "Lady Poverty." Having given away all my possessions at one point except for a backpack, a sleeping back, and a guitar, upon reading of Francis' similar, if not more strict and long lasting (!), calling to the same, he of course appealed to me. He seemed to think like I did at the time, which was hard to find. Francis' love for the Gospel and complete surrender to its most difficult callings, if taken literally, moved me, as did his deep love for the Passion of Our Lord, which ultimately resulted in his gift of the Stigmata in the later years of his life. I also related to his love of God through nature, which was an important part of my spirituality as well.
This film hits home on many levels and is a beautifully made film as well. The setting, from the beautiful and realistically filmed Italian countryside, to the settings in period stone buildings and exquisite costuming, could hardly be done better. The film liberally uses dramatic light and natural elements like rain and wind, sun, stars and moon, fire and water, reminding us of Francis' most well known Canticle of the Sun ( http://www.carynscollection.com/francis_prayers.html ) to convey spiritual drama.
The story line and the acting by all principle characters are equally well done. I like how they focus on both Francis and Clare in their early years, instead of focusing only on Francis, as many such films do. Their mutually inspiring relationship and parallel spiritual journey is nicely portrayed in this film.
Ettore Bassi's portrayal of the character of Francis is exceptional. He not only brings out the lighter parts of his personality, but the depth of his spirituality as well. One of my favorite and most poignant scenes is where he sees the face of Christ in the leper and kisses him. And the one where he admits Clare into the life of the Poor Clares, which she founded to prayerfully support his mission. And the scene with the Sultan at the camp during the Crusades. And so many more, it is impossible to share them all. Clare is beautifully portrayed by Mary Petruolo, and for once keeps the difference in age realistically. The film gives a nice account of her own spiritual journey and struggles with her family, and of her dedication to Francis' ideals while others questioned whether it could be done. She is not just a supporting character, as in so many other films about St. Francis.
There are so many stories and legends about Francis and Clare, that it is hard to include them all in the limited time frame of a film. Were I to make this film, I might have included more of their later years stories, but this is a nice collection of early years as well as later years. The film, which is made in English and Italian, is made in two parts (totaling 200 minutes) and includes a 16 page booklet with information about the film and the saints and some discussion questions. The dvd also includes a nice behind the scenes section.
On my website I have many more pages of articles about Francis and Clare http://www.carynscollection.com/st_francis_and_clare.html, if you wish to learn more about them, illustrated by my photos from my trip to Assisi. This film, as well as other books and films are available for purchase, or this film for rental in this section: http://www.carynscollection.com/rentals_outside_files/DVD_rentals_list.html