4 April 2004 | marcin_kukuczka
after all these years, still WORTH SEEING
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
THAT WE ARE BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE!!!