Actually the first film I’ve ever seen by Roberto Rossellini, The Flowers of St. Francis is the sweet biopic of sorts about St. Francis of Assisi and his followers (or flowers, if you will).
It is told in a serious of interesting, sometimes humorous, vignettes, such as St. Francis meeting a leper in the countryside, and the antics of the Saint’s followers. It is actually very interesting to see what their lives were like during this time period, showing their charity work and collaborations with St. Mary of the Angels and her respective followers.
It is almost more the story of these disciples, particularly Brother Ginepro, than of Francis himself. We don’t see him go through the typical hero’s journey of growth and redemption. We do, however, see his followers learn how to effectively embody and teach the word of Christ, making this more “their” movie in my opinion.
While engaging, The Flowers of St. Francis does not carry emotional poignancy until the very end; when St. Francis bids his followers goodbye and instructs them to go forth and preach, it is a very moving and inspiring moment to see his disciples, excited yet scared, work on behalf of not just their Lord, but also the Saint and man they admire so much.
It might be my Catholic upbringing talking, but The Flowers of St. Francis is an informative, surprisingly unpretentious, and truly heartwarming portrait of the People’s Saint.