View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Wanting to get away from hurricanes and politics, the Good-Looking-One and I decided to watch a movie last night. I had recently found a copy of Brother Sun, Sister Moon at the local Catholic shop - a movie I had not seen in years, and which she had never seen.

Ah yes, the hippie saint - at least as he appears in this 1973 Franco Zeffirelli film. (He had previously done Romeo and Juliet, and would later do Jesus of Nazareth; you'll see some familiar faces and techniques in this film if you've seen those two movies.)

But there were some "hippie" aspects to St. Francis - the innocence, the idealism, the joy, the love of nature - and this film captures that. The cinematography is beautiful (typical of Zeffirelli), and as it was filmed near Assisi you get a sense of some of the beautiful landscape - all those flowers! - Francis would have seen.

Sure, the movie is incomplete. It only focuses on the early days, leaving out the illnesses, the failures, the struggles in the order, the stigmata. It only goes up to the point when Francis and his followers go to Rome to meet with Pope Innocent III (played by Alec Guinness).
One could also argue, however, that The Passion of the Christ only focused on one horrific but magnificent period in Jesus' life. The purpose of the film - as was true of Passion - was to focus on one part of the story, not the whole story.

Brother Sun also takes some liberties with the facts - as do most such biopics. (I've heard that 1989's Francesco is fairly accurate, but I haven't seen that one yet.)

As seemingly "light" as it is, BSSM does allude to deeper issues: The bloated, materialistic parts of the Church that Francis would help to reform, the dangers of trying to live the Gospel message (with the church Francis and his followers were rebuilding being attacked and one of his followers being killed), the love of material wealth built by exploiting and abusing workers, the neglect of the poor.

But the point of the movie was capturing the spirit of Francis, "The Joyful Beggar."

It succeeded. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. It might especially appeal to teens (if they haven't been too jaded by television and so-called "realistic" teen fare).



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