Brother Sun Sister Moon (1973)

PG | 120-121 mins | Biography | April 1973

Full page view
HISTORY

The Italian release title was Fratello sole, sorella luna . There are differences between the onscreen credits of the viewed print and the 28 Feb 1973 cutting continuity, the 21 Mar 1973 HR review and the Official Screen Credits (OSC) for Academy Awards. The onscreen credits of the viewed print included Renato Terra, Carlo Pisacane, Piero Baldini and Gianni Pulone to the cast, but they are not listed in the other sources. Although the cutting continuity included Peter Firth, Carlton Hobbs and Marne Maitland in the opening credits, and those names appeared in the HR review and the OSC, they were not listed in the onscreen credits of the viewed print. It is possible, but has not been verified, that scenes featuring Firth, Hobbs and Maitland were deleted at some point after the Mar 1973 HR review. Although Firth was not identifiable in the print viewed, Brother Sun, Sister Moon was his first feature film.
       Brother Sun, Sister Moon was inspired by the story of St. Francis of Assisi, who was born Giovanni Francesco Bernardone (1181--1226); however, as noted by the studio production notes, the film is not intended as a factual account of the saint’s life. Near the beginning of the film, a series of flashbacks occur, which establish facts about the life of the character “Francesco” prior to his going to war, including nightmares of his battle experiences. The flashbacks are interspersed with shots of Francesco in bed as he recuperates from his illness. The title of the film was taken from the song “Canticle of the Creatures,” also ... More Less

The Italian release title was Fratello sole, sorella luna . There are differences between the onscreen credits of the viewed print and the 28 Feb 1973 cutting continuity, the 21 Mar 1973 HR review and the Official Screen Credits (OSC) for Academy Awards. The onscreen credits of the viewed print included Renato Terra, Carlo Pisacane, Piero Baldini and Gianni Pulone to the cast, but they are not listed in the other sources. Although the cutting continuity included Peter Firth, Carlton Hobbs and Marne Maitland in the opening credits, and those names appeared in the HR review and the OSC, they were not listed in the onscreen credits of the viewed print. It is possible, but has not been verified, that scenes featuring Firth, Hobbs and Maitland were deleted at some point after the Mar 1973 HR review. Although Firth was not identifiable in the print viewed, Brother Sun, Sister Moon was his first feature film.
       Brother Sun, Sister Moon was inspired by the story of St. Francis of Assisi, who was born Giovanni Francesco Bernardone (1181--1226); however, as noted by the studio production notes, the film is not intended as a factual account of the saint’s life. Near the beginning of the film, a series of flashbacks occur, which establish facts about the life of the character “Francesco” prior to his going to war, including nightmares of his battle experiences. The flashbacks are interspersed with shots of Francesco in bed as he recuperates from his illness. The title of the film was taken from the song “Canticle of the Creatures,” also known as “ Laudes creaturarum ” ("Praise of the Creatures"), which was written by St. Francis.
       As depicted in the film, Francesco was the son of a well-to-do Italian cloth merchant, Pietro di Bernardone, and his French wife. Francesco fought in Assisi’s war against the neighboring town of Perugia, in which many of his friends and neighbors were killed or captured. After a year in captivity, he was ransomed, and afterward answered the call for knights for the Fourth Crusade. However, on his journey, he had a dream that God told him to return home. Francesco began praying and spending time in the countryside. While praying at the ruins of the ancient church at San Damiano, Francesco heard Christ speak from the crucifix, asking that he repair the church. When Pietro discovered that Francesco had sold cloth from his shop to raise money to repair the crumbling edifice, he dragged Francesco before Guido, the Bishop of Assisi.
       Francesco returned the money and, stripping off the clothes his father had given him, claimed that Pietro was no longer his father. Francesco then begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church, and began to attract followers who lived in poverty with him. Eventually, as depicted in the film, Francesco sought and was given permission to continue his ministry from Pope Innocent III. This was the origin of the religious Order of Friars Minor, or Franciscans. As shown in the film, among Francesco’s followers were his friend and fellow soldier, Bernardo di Quintovalle, and the well-born Clare of Assisi, who later founded the Order of Poor Ladies, or Order of Clare, in the Franciscan tradition. Weakened by a life of poverty, Francesco died at the age of 45, and was sanctified two years later. He is considered the patron saint of animals, birds, the environment and Italy.
       A 30 Oct 1968 Var article reported that director Franco Zeffirelli stated that he had written a first draft of a film about St. Francis and hoped to start shooting in early 1969. A 6 Jan 1970 DV news item reported that the script was re-worked over the next two years. In the film's studio production notes, Zeffirelli stated that his first vision for the movie had been “a slick film…with all the current technical devices,” such as jump cuts and contemporary music, and that he had hoped to star Beatlestles. However, after a car accident that left Zeffirelli incapacitated for six months, his vision of the film changed to a simpler telling of St. Francis’ life.
       In a 13 Oct 1970 DV article, Zeffirelli reported that after the success of his 1968 film, Romeo and Juliet (see below), he approached Paramount, to which he was under a four-year, exclusive contract, about his idea for a film about St. Francis. Zeffirelli claimed that Paramount was reluctant to do big budget films but provided “minimum financing” for the project for two years. A 6 Jan 1970 DV news item reported that Paramount was bowing out of the project, despite having Dustin Hoffman attached to the script and a score by Leonard Bernstein (neither of whom contributed to the final film), and that Warner Bros. was considering taking over. The 13 Oct 1970 DV article stated that, in early 1970, Paramount negotiated with companies to finance against release rights for areas outside the U.S. and Canada, and a 19 Oct 1970 HR news item reported that Euro International would produce the film and that Paramount would have western hemisphere distribution rights and other options. A 20 Jan 1971 DV article reported that Euro, an Italian company, was the majority 70 percent investment partner and the British company Vic Films the minority co-producer, with Paramount partially funding Euro's investment.
       Although a 19 Oct 1970 HR news item reported that Frank Grimes was to portray Francesco, he was later replaced by Graham Faulkner, an English acting student who made his professional debut in the film and who, according to a 20 Jan 1971 DV article, was initially interviewed for a secondary role. Sixteen-year-old Judi Bowker, who portrayed “Clare,” and most of the younger actors also made their film debuts.
       A 13 Oct 1970 DV article reported that John McEnery and Massimo Ranieri were cast, but they did not appear in the final film. Although HR production charts added Anthony Corlan to the cast, his appearance in the final film has not been determined. Studio production notes reported that Michael Irving portrayed "Bernardo," but the onscreen credits list Leigh Lawson as the actor in that role. Although she did not appear in the film, a 9 Oct 1970 DV news item reported that Taryn Power, the seventeen-year-old daughter of actor Tyrone Power, was to make her film debut as Clare. A 7 Mar 1971 LAT article reported that Laurence Olivier would play “Pope Innocent III,” and that Pat Heywood and Princess Ira Furstenberg were cast; however, none of the three appeared in the film and the role of the Pope was played by Alec Guinness.
       A 23 Apr 1973 Box article reported that the film was shot over nine months in order to film during different seasons. Onscreen credits state that the film was shot on location in Italy and at Centro Dear Studios in Rome. The 7 Mar 1971 LAT article reported that the towers of Assisi were shot in San Gimignano, Umbria. According to studio notes, shooting occurred at Gubbio and Bevagna, and a church at Castelluccio was used for the church of San Damiano. A 24 Feb 1971 Var reported that an earthquake in the Umbrian area struck the historic town of Tuscania, where Zeffirelli had planned to shoot a major scene in a ninth century church.
       The DV review stated that singer-songwriter Donovan arranged and wrote lyrics for medieval musical themes provided to him by the research of scholar Alfredo Bianchini. According to the 23 Apr 1973 Box article, the film was shot in English, and an Italian version was first released in Europe. Lorenzo Mongiardino, Gianni Quaranta and Carmelo Patrono were nominated for an Academy Award for Art Direction.
       A 15 Apr 1971 DV news item reported that a 16mm color documentary on the making of the film was directed by Rev. Raymond Bluett. Other films about St. Francis are the 1961 Perseus production Francis of Assisi , directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bradford Dillman (See Entry); the 1950 Rizzoli Film production The Flowers of St. Francis , directed by Roberto Rossellini; and the 1990 film Francesco , directed by Liliana Cavani and starring Mickey Rourke and Helena Bonham Carter. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Apr 1973
p. 4577.
Box Office
23 Apr 1973.
---
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1970
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1970.
---
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1970
p. 1, 9.
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1971.
---
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1971
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1973.
---
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1973.
---
Interview
May 1973.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
14 Apr 1973
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1971
Calendar, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
11 Apr 1973
p. 1, 20.
Los Angeles Times
14 Apr 1973
Section IV, p. 15.
New Republic
7 Apr 1973.
---
New York Times
9 Apr 1973
p. 48.
New York Times
30 Dec 1973
Section II, p. 1.
New Yorker
7 Nov 1970.
---
Newsweek
23 Apr 1973.
---
The Times (London)
24 Mar 1973
p. 9.
Time
13 Apr 1973.
---
Variety
30 Oct 1968.
---
Variety
28 Oct 1970.
---
Variety
20 Jan 1971
p. 25.
Variety
24 Feb 1971.
---
Variety
21 Mar 1973
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Film by Franco Zeffirelli
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
English dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Focus puller
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Architect
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
MUSIC
Mus coord arr and cond
Mus publisher
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles des
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Assoc to the prod
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
SOURCES
SONGS
"Crusader's Song," "Lullaby," "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," "Lovely Day," "God Bless the Master," "Little Church," "Rain Song," "Lord Make Me an Instrument" and "There's a Shape in the Sky," words and music by Donovan, sung by Donovan.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Fratello sole, sorella luna
Release Date:
April 1973
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 April 1973
Los Angeles opening: 11 April 1973
Production Date:
8 February--mid August 1971 in Italy
Copyright Claimant:
Euro International Films, S.p.A.
Copyright Date:
9 March 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42961
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
Camera and lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
120-121
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23596
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the year 1200, eighteen-year-old soldier Francesco, who is ill and feverish, returns to his parents’ home in his native Assisi. As he is nursed back to physical health, his fever causes him to relive moments from his past: His father Pietro di Bernardone, a wealthy cloth merchant, is opposed to Francesco’s desire to go to war until he considers the riches and plunder his son might obtain. After being blessed by Bishop Guido, Francesco and his friend Bernardo commence their journey and shortly after, encounter Clare, a young woman of Assisi who provides food for the lepers. Later, as the horrors of war surround Francesco and Bernardo, Bernardo is captured by the enemy. In the present, Francesco eventually recuperates and awakens to the cheery chirping of a little bird at his window. Climbing out the window, he follows the bird to the roof, as his family and neighbors watch, afraid he will fall. Although Francesco's health improves, his mind remains uneasy and he spends hours in the countryside communing with nature, which encourages the townspeople to gossip about his mental stability. While wandering, Francesco prays at the ruins of San Damiano, an ancient, consecrated church, where he hears Christ speak to him from the crucifix and request that he rebuild it. This causes Francesco to regain purpose and happiness, and he prepares to restore the crumbling edifice. Although his mother Pica, a pious Frenchwoman, is uncritical and Clare believes that Francesco is a better person than he was before he went to war, Pietro is impatient for Francesco to return to his former life. When he sees Francesco and Clare together, he concludes ... +


In the year 1200, eighteen-year-old soldier Francesco, who is ill and feverish, returns to his parents’ home in his native Assisi. As he is nursed back to physical health, his fever causes him to relive moments from his past: His father Pietro di Bernardone, a wealthy cloth merchant, is opposed to Francesco’s desire to go to war until he considers the riches and plunder his son might obtain. After being blessed by Bishop Guido, Francesco and his friend Bernardo commence their journey and shortly after, encounter Clare, a young woman of Assisi who provides food for the lepers. Later, as the horrors of war surround Francesco and Bernardo, Bernardo is captured by the enemy. In the present, Francesco eventually recuperates and awakens to the cheery chirping of a little bird at his window. Climbing out the window, he follows the bird to the roof, as his family and neighbors watch, afraid he will fall. Although Francesco's health improves, his mind remains uneasy and he spends hours in the countryside communing with nature, which encourages the townspeople to gossip about his mental stability. While wandering, Francesco prays at the ruins of San Damiano, an ancient, consecrated church, where he hears Christ speak to him from the crucifix and request that he rebuild it. This causes Francesco to regain purpose and happiness, and he prepares to restore the crumbling edifice. Although his mother Pica, a pious Frenchwoman, is uncritical and Clare believes that Francesco is a better person than he was before he went to war, Pietro is impatient for Francesco to return to his former life. When he sees Francesco and Clare together, he concludes that his son’s problem is love and insists that he resume working at the family business. Soon after, troubled by the uncomfortable conditions under which his father's weavers and dyers toil, Francesco leads them outside to sit in the sunshine. This prompts Pietro, who is driven by materialism, to beat his son. In church, Francesco is repulsed and sickened by the ostentatious wealth of the rich, as compared to the ragged poor who listen at the back of the chapel. Later, Francesco throws goods from his father’s storeroom out to the crowd and joyfully tells his father that the real treasures are in heaven. Furious, Pietro drags Francesco through the streets to the legal authorities for punishment, but the law refers them to Bishop Guido. Outside the cathedral in front of the crowd, Pietro complains to the bishop that Francesco threw out years of his work. When questioned by the bishop, Francesco explains that riches and “loveless toil” do not make a person happy, and that, while yearning to recapture his soul, he has been “illuminated by Father Sun.” Feeling unworthy of holy orders, Francesco wants only to live in nature, in purity and freedom, without shoes, possessions or servants. Removing his clothing, Francesco returns them to Pietro, renouncing his inheritance, and proclaims that he wishes to live as a beggar like Christ and his Apostles. The bishop gives his blessing and Francesco walks naked from the village, but his words have moved another young man, who soon follows him. Several months later, in winter, Bernardo, who escaped from captivity and fought in the Holy Land, returns home as a hero. Although his friends, Paolo, Silvestro and Giocondo, celebrate, the memories of war haunt Bernardo. Disturbed by the flippant manner in which the young men tell him of the change in their former close friend, Francesco, Bernardo is appalled that no one is watching over Francesco, but the others warn him that associating with Francesco is bad for one’s reputation. Bernardo walks through snow to find the barefoot and ragged Francesco tediously restoring the church brick by brick and living with others who have followed or sought comfort with him. When Bernardo says he has come to help, Francesco replies that what he says is “just words.” However, when Francesco listens as Bernardo confides how he has lost his ideals, he invites him to rebuild his spiritual temple as he helps to rebuild the church. When Giocondo and Silvestro arrive to fetch Bernardo, who is being honored as part of ceremonies relating to a visit by Emperor Otto of Brunswick, Bernardo claims he has nothing to say to an emperor who slaughters the innocent and steals from the poor. Thoughtfully, Francesco says he could tell the emperor to throw his scepter in the mud, fling his jewels into the river and let the birds nest in his crown. As Giocondo and Silvestro start to leave without Bernardo, Giocondo realizes that he belongs there and remains. While witnessing the festive processional in which the emperor arrives, Silvestro recalls Francesco’s words and shouts them. After being pushed away by marching guards, Silvestro joins Francesco’s group. Francesco’s community continues to restore the consecrated ruin and live by begging. Giocondo chastises himself for desiring a woman, but Francesco assures him that each must love God according to his own capacity and, with his blessing, sends him away to seek a wife. When Assisi’s Council becomes concerned at how many of the city’s youth are joining Francesco, Paolo sees an opportunity to better himself and suggests that the citizens refuse to provide them food. Consequently, when Francesco’s community enters the city singing and begging for sustenance, they are ignored and taunted. In the dead of winter, when the morale of the brotherhood is at its lowest, Clare provides them with food. In the summer, the community helps with the harvest in exchange for bread. Clare arrives, asking Francesco for permission to join the community, and in a riverside ritual, her long, blonde hair is cut and she is accepted. When the church is completed, it attracts many of the devout poor. Although the bishop realizes the group is restoring the consecrated ruin out of love and that Francesco is endeavoring to live like Christ, he is convinced by Paolo to deconsecrate the church. After soldiers are sent to set it afire, a man is inadvertently killed and Francesco, in despair, asks what he has done wrong and decides to go to Rome to ask the Pope’s advice. Surprised by Francesco’s determination but fearing that his friends might be burned as heretics, Paolo aids them in seeking an audience. The ragged and barefoot group are soon standing in the luxurious ante-chamber of St. Peter’s Basilica, where nobles, ambassadors and religious men are seated around them. Overwhelmed by the splendor, Francesco begins to read an Act of Submission that Paolo prepared for him, but then feels compelled to speak in his own words. To the opulent assembly, Francesco mentions Christ’s message about poverty and the birds of the air, offending many who think he is lecturing them. Francesco and his companions are ordered out, but Paolo, moved by Francesco’s words, decides to join them, even as they are about to be arrested. The Pope, too, is moved by Francesco’s sincerity and calls for the group to be brought back. After descending from the throne, the Pope asks what Francesco is seeking and Francesco explains his humble desires and asks advice. The Pope acknowledges that God gave Francesco the gift to approach Him through His creatures, and says that in our obsession with original sin, we have tended to forget original innocence. The Pope gives Francesco permission to preach and, astonishing everyone, kisses Francesco’s feet. A Cardinal observing the event assures another that Francesco will be able to speak to the poor and bring them back to the Church. Later, feeling at peace in the countryside, Francesco sings to Father Sun and Sister Moon. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.