After the extraordinary success of "Romeo and Juliet", Franco Zefferilli made "Brother Sun, Sister Moon", which has, unfortunately, fallen into oblivion.
It tells the story of a wealthy young man who becomes horrified by his family's way of life and decides to renounce all of his worldly possessions.
He begins to resurrect a broken-down church in the countryside, begins to attract a following of devoted young people and also begins to attract the disapproving attitudes of the townspeople.
Eventually, feeling himself to be a failure, he journeys to Rome and gains an audience with Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III is bowled over by the young man's deeply felt spirituality and unwavering devotion to God.
Eventually, due to the Pope's mentorship, the young man, Francesco, will go on to become Saint Francis of Assisi.
This film is a deeply spiritual journey of one young man's awakening to the horrors of materialism and violence and war.
It may be geared toward the "flower power" movement of the late 60's and early 70's - the film was released in December of 1972 - but it goes far beyond the concerns of that particular movement and connects with far more basic humanitarian rights.
The sequence in which Francesco descends into the bowels of the earth and witnesses first-hand the way in which his father uses men, women and children to make his fabrics is almost too horrifying to look at - Francisco brings these men, women and children into the sunlight to restore them into "semblances" of human beings.
His efforts to rebuild the discarded church are a testament to his new-found belief in the beauty and power of God.
The film is not heavily plotted - Zefferilli was one of the scenarists - instead, it prefers to concentrate on Francesco's conviction that God will always be available to those people who believe in Him.
The film is blessed with spellbinding visual imagery - constantly - as, once Francesco disowns the material world, a "new world" opens up for him - a world of splendor that he has never noticed before.
He is now living in the midst of God's presence.
But re-building the church is a hard and cold life - these scenes take place in winter - and Francesco realizes that loving God is not always easy.
That loving God has a price, too.
The sequence with Pope Innocent III, who is played by Alec Guinness, is one of an almost ethereal beauty in which the Pope himself bends down to kiss Francesco's feet.
Because he realizes that Francesco's spirituality is God-like and NOT present in his court of wealth and privilege.
The film is distinguished by Zefferilli's identification with Francesco's awakening and by Graham Faulkner's "spiritual" performance as Francesco.
Graham Faulkner, who is unknown to me, is an actor who can hold the screen.
He is surrounded by other young men who want what he wants - God's presence in this world.
(Mr. Faulkner, who has an extended nude scene that is much more revealing than Leonard Whiting's in "Romeo and Juliet", has a derriere that is, to put it simply, "a work of art".)
Here is a film that deserves a "re-birth".
It does not have the emotionalism of "Romeo and Juliet".
Instead, it offers us "a passage to God's Presence".