Chiara e Francesco (TV Movie 2007) Poster

(2007 TV Movie)

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Do Not Look Back...
marcin_kukuczka6 October 2013
"Franciscan peace is not something saccharine (...) Nor is it a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos (...) It is not Franciscan, but a notion that some people have invented! The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ" (Pope Francis at Assisi).

I have decided to begin my review on this movie with the words of the Pope who clearly follows the profound footsteps of the great medieval saint at the dawn of the new century and the new millennium. Undeniably, saint Francis of Assisi has been, for centuries, an inspiring figure amongst both believers and non-believers and, consequently, a hero of the screen in recent decades. Although some great films have been made about him, most of them have appeared to be 'personal interpretations' rather than 'pious biopics' And we have the purely Hollywood product by Michael Curtiz, the ultra popular, a bit saccharine yet beautiful BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON, the intensely individualistic FRANCESCO GIULLARE DI DIO, the controversial FRANCESCO by Liliana Cavani. After the unsuccessful FRANCESCO by Michele Soavi, the movie by Fabrizio Costa appears to be a true surprise though it clearly bears resemblance to many TV productions and recent films of religious themes. In what way does it surprise us and refresh its thematic concern?

When I decided to see this film, a thought accompanied me not to look back at previous films but try to see it as a fresh, new vision at the same time deeply rooted in Franciscan spirituality. It seems to be primordial to state clearly that CHIARA E FRANCESCO, as the title suggests, is the very first movie which places both saints of Assisi as the true protagonists of the movie. Costa's film is equally the story of saint Francis as it is the story of saint Clare from the very start. Inseparable and profoundly linked protagonists whose lives are directed towards common experiences. Surely, most of the films about the saint depicted Clare as well but she was, in most cases, a supporting character if not marginal. Clare, inspired by the example of Francis, follows his footsteps in a more profound way. Let me focus on her portrayal in a more in-depth manner.

Many viewers will probably agree that there could be no better choice for the role than young, subtle, beautiful Mary Petruolo. As a newcomer, she is free to reveal all virtues of the figure. The young actress manages to handle the role with excellent skill of combining the magnetism on the screen with the spiritual growth that is necessary to be delivered in order to understand the character. While her scenes alternate with the scenes of Francis, her way to dedicate her life to God delivers perfect dramatic resonance. Portrayed along with her sister Agnes (Camilla Diana) and mother Ortolana (Antonella Fatori) alongside the context of the cruel uncle, the storyline is clear, absorbing and very educational. There are two scenes that make Clare unforgettable from this movie: the first being her visit to the prison in Perugia and giving bread to the prisoner, the second being Christmas at Greccio.

Francis of Assisi, "perhaps the only genuine successor of Jesus" (Aste) is portrayed by young actor Ettore Basi and again, it seems important to state: do not look back and compare him to Graham Faulkner, Mickey Rourke and others. He is different, yet, he carries the necessary aspect of Francis: lovable yet harsh, smiling yet serious. As a matter of fact, the storyline spans the whole life of Saint Francis and most of the events are portrayed in a biopic like manner from his conversion to the visit in Rome, to the visit in Holy Land and the meeting with the sultan, the stigmata, the wolf of Gubbio and death. All is handled with artistic sense and religious piety. The actor does a great job in that respect because he makes his character believable and close to modern audiences. At the same time, he is not someone who aims at "harmony with forces of the cosmos" but his conversion is rooted in "the gaze of the crucified Jesus" (reference to Pope Francis' words).

Among the supporting casts, a notion must be made of Antonella Fatori, Angela Molina as Pica, Lando Buzzanca who creates a very vivid picture of Pietro di Bernardone, Gabrielle Cirilli as a very interesting character of Illuminato (a sort of saint Peter-like character who denies and asks for forgiveness), and Lando Buzzanca as Pope Innocent III.

Yes, the scene at the papal court is something I would like to make a broader notion of. Surely, it is not the emotional, visual and musical crescendo filmed at magnificent Monreale (as it was the case in Zeffirelli's movie) but a scene in between many that nicely delivers the contrast of two lifestyles. No one preaches anyone and yet both worlds are united by the power of the Gospel. Francis' submission to the pope is beautifully displayed in his passionate desire to live like Christ and his love to the Church he calls 'family' There is, of course, one historical mistake at the portrayal of pope Innocent III as the pope himself wrote in his DE SACRO ALTARIS MYSTERIO that "the Roman Pontiff does not use the shepherd's staff" (he is, however, showed to carry one here).

A great merit of the film is the music score by Marco Frisina. It escapes any associations with particular sub-cultures and harmoniously embraces simplicity and delight. The famous CANTICLE OF THE SUN as the thematic track is really beautiful and touching.

CHIARA E FRANCESCO pays tribute to Il Poverello and his first female follower. It echoes certain films that left their traces before and yet touches us in a new, refreshing way. That is, after all, the way things are about Francis and Clare not look back but look ahead in order to see the new dawn within the renewal of living according to Gospel.
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About St. Francis And St. Clare
Desertman8418 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Clare and Francis is an epic feature film on the lives of St. Clare and St. Francis of Assisi shot on location in Italy by the Italian film company Lux Vide.It stars Ettore Bassi as Francis of Assisi and Mary Petruolo as Clare of Assisi. It was directed by Fabrizio Costa.

St. Francis and St. Clare are two renowned saints from Assisi.Francis renounces his inheritance of wealth to live the Gospel and serve the poor and outcasts.While Clare reads deep into his heart and decides to follow him, leaving her home and family to give herself as the bride of Christ. Both found major religious orders and together they inspire many to follow their radical call to live the Gospel, and their impact has even reached across the centuries to change the world.

This outstanding movie is unique among films on St. Francis because of the historical accuracy of the story and its authentic spirit of joy and piety Francis was known for, as well as the major role played by Clare who is given equal stature with Francis. The two leads are played by very appealing performers, Mary Petruolo and Ettore Bassi, who give genuinely inspiring and beautifully moving performances of the daughter of a patrician family and the son of a rich merchant who leave all to follow Christ.
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Kirpianuscus11 June 2016
another film about Francisc. after many others. why? it is the first question. and the answer of the film is simple, convincing and correct. because it is not exactly a film about Chiara and Francesco. but a film about theirs traces. because the poetry of image, the dialog and the image are not tools for recreate a well known story but a suggestion for discover its essence. a moment. a decision. a group of followers. and the change of lives and Church. Francisc of Ettore Bassi is not exactly a hero. or model. only a man looking the heart of life. and that is the detail who gives new nuances to a story about one of the most important Roman Catholic saints. a film who impress for the high honesty to remind known facts in the wise light. and that does it good occasion to reflection.
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honest work
Vincentiu1 June 2015
the great virtue - profound honesty. a honest film who say nothing new but explores the nuances of story with grace and precision. and that detail does the difference. Francesco of Ettore Bassi is credible. Chiara of Maria Petruolo seems be the ideal portrait of Chiara. the landscapes, the language, the details, the atmosphere gives the original sensitivity, admirable tension, deep poetry of Fiori. that poetry, present in many other films about Poverello , becomes in this case refreshing . because it is more than pure poetry. it is a rare form of grace who seduce not only for images or delicacy but for the realism. a honest movie. who could be a beautiful experience for the viewer who rediscovers a world out of myth frame.
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