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Franco Zefferilli

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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".

 

 

emNwSFJKUkVRaDQx_o_franco-zeffirellis-br

 

 

FrancisOfAssisi-4.jpg

 

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3BB8ksarrwA/TouoRPLWQpI/AAAAAAAARqw/CPfsO3zLLNI/s400/Francis4.jpg

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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".

 

 

emNwSFJKUkVRaDQx_o_franco-zeffirellis-br

 

 

FrancisOfAssisi-4.jpg

 

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3BB8ksarrwA/TouoRPLWQpI/AAAAAAAARqw/CPfsO3zLLNI/s400/Francis4.jpg

Mr Zefirelli always had an eye for beautiful young men- but he never made a real gay film.

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Mr Zefirelli always had an eye for beautiful young men- but he never made a real gay film.

 

Do you think he was supposed to? Are gay filmmakers obligated to do gay films?

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Do you think he was supposed to? Are gay filmmakers obligated to do gay films?

Not at all  -  but a gay filmmaker would want to explore that aspect of his life in a film -  Zefirelli was interested in spectacle and beautiful images

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Not at all  -  but a gay filmmaker would want to explore that aspect of his life in a film -  Zefirelli was interested in spectacle and beautiful images

 

I don't think a filmmaker would want do explore that aspect of his life if he's still somewhat closeted. It's one thing to be gay and for people to know it, but something else to publicly use it for your art.

 

We've been talking about James Franco in another thread. It really doesn't matter where he is on the sexual spectrum, because he seems to embrace all aspects of human sexuality through his art. But not everyone is so omnisexual and open. Zefferelli seems like he's not very public about his sexuality, and that could be related to his generation, to his religious upbringing or just because he's by nature a private person. 

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I saw the Mickey Rourke version when I was in Rome in early 1989. He was dubbed in Italian, but managed a peekaboo full frontal as he rolled down a hill.

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I saw the Mickey Rourke version when I was in Rome in early 1989. He was dubbed in Italian, but managed a peekaboo full frontal as he rolled down a hill.

I don't know this film.

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I don't know this film.

 

Probably not given much of release in the U.S. It was available on DVD at one point. Mickey wasn't bad in his performance, based on my memory from way back. I was in Italy for a couple months between January and May, so it was part of a cluster I saw there along with Italian dubbed versions of Rain Man and The Accused. You gotta admit, Helena Bonham Carter was the 1980s version of Olivia Hussey for a little while, until she stretched her performances as a female Johnny Depp.

 

 

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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.

 

Needless to say, both Mickey and Graham Faulkner look like they spent a lot more time in the gym than the original St. Francis. Did they have Soloflex at the dawn of the 13th century? What strikes me about Graham in the YouTube clips (I saw some of this on TV decades ago, but not the whole thing) is how much his acting style and camera poses resemble Leonard Whiting.

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Needless to say, both Mickey and Graham Faulkner look like they spent a lot more time in the gym than the original St. Francis. Did they have Soloflex at the dawn of the 13th century? What strikes me about Graham in the YouTube clips (I saw some of this on TV decades ago, but not the whole thing) is how much his acting style and camera poses resemble Leonard Whiting.

Yes, there is a definite "Leonard Whiting influence" in Zefferelli's handling of Graham Faulkner.

 

I was very impressed with Graham Faulkner's performance.

 

He did hold the screen - admirably.

 

What I do find upsetting, however, is that he did not have an acting career.

 

tumblr_kxqy77DOGk1qzn0deo1_1280.jpg

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Yes, there is a definite "Leonard Whiting influence" in Zefferelli's handling of Graham Faulkner.

 

I was very impressed with Graham Faulkner's performance.

 

He did hold the screen - admirably.

 

What I do find upsetting, however, is that he did not have an acting career.

 

tumblr_kxqy77DOGk1qzn0deo1_1280.jpg

 

You can also add the what-was-his-name who played you-know-who in his biggest religious epic, aired on television in 1977. This director loved... faces. I think the actors did great jobs at those very specific roles, but failed to succeed going against type.

 

The Sensitive Pretty Boys, who made their mark in just one great performance each, only enjoyed their peak during the Vietnam War era, right around the time of Murray Head in Sunday Bloody Sunday,  which coasted on the early gay liberation movement. In addition, you had women's liberation. For this brief window, you could be heterosexual and still be comfortable expressing both your "masculine" and "feminine" sides. NOT so in the eighties. Society was too backward and conservative. There is no way Brother Son and Sister Moon would have succeeded then. I think the primary reason Francesco was made was to cash in on The Last Temptation Of Christ which succeeded more because of its controversies and Scorsese's unusual approach rather than any new box office potential for spiritual movies. Neither Mickey nor Willem Dafoe were well suited to their roles, despite giving it their all, because they were TOO masculine  for the popular images of Jesus and Francis. I think these eighties films were products of the post-Rambo period where you had to still behave as manly as possible regardless of whom you played.

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Well... at least their eyes and the flower power potential are different.

 

abrothaX59e.jpglarge.jpg

 

 

Y'know, Leonard Whiting deserves a special thread all his own, but I don't want to be the one to start it. Maybe title it "In Search of... Leonard, the OTHER Nimoy". Too bad he wasn't much of a hit with ladies in his version of Casanova. Makes you wonder, even though he was married and became a father at some point in his life.

 

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You can also add the what-was-his-name who played you-know-who in his biggest religious epic, aired on television in 1977. This director loved... faces. I think the actors did great jobs at those very specific roles, but failed to succeed going against type.

 

The Sensitive Pretty Boys, who made their mark in just one great performance each, only enjoyed their peak during the Vietnam War era, right around the time of Murray Head in Sunday Bloody Sunday,  which coasted on the early gay liberation movement. In addition, you had women's liberation. For this brief window, you could be heterosexual and still be comfortable expressing both your "masculine" and "feminine" sides. NOT so in the eighties. Society was too backward and conservative. There is no way Brother Son and Sister Moon would have succeeded then. I think the primary reason Francesco was made was to cash in on The Last Temptation Of Christ which succeeded more because of its controversies and Scorsese's unusual approach rather than any new box office potential for spiritual movies. Neither Mickey nor Willem Dafoe were well suited to their roles, despite giving it their all, because they were TOO masculine  for the popular images of Jesus and Francis. I think these eighties films were products of the post-Rambo period where you had to still behave as manly as possible regardless of whom you played.

Given the conception of Francesco in "Brother Sun, Sister Moon", a "masculine" actor could not have succeeded in the role.

 

The "sensitivity" of his features was essential to the part.

 

The fact that he is surrounded by "pretty young men" is also a given.

 

Such young men were obviously "resistant" to a more materialistic environment.

 

They were much more "spiritually inclined".

 

Were they sleeping with each other?

 

Possibly.

 

But Zefferelli doesn't have to spell everything out.

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But Zefferelli doesn't have to spell everything out.

 

A closeted director would be afraid to spell everything out. He'd deliberately keep it cloaked in symbolism and "multiple interpretations."

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The "Francesco" of "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" -

 

is this a heterosexual young man -

 

no, I don't think so.

 

5xPwkjFTEwIP4znUGUzzKH1d1v8.jpg

 

 

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A closeted director would be afraid to spell everything out. He'd deliberately keep it cloaked in symbolism and "multiple interpretations."

"Brother Sun, Sister Moon" is infused with a gay sensibility.

 

A straight man could not have made this film.

 

600full-graham-faulkner.jpg

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Interesting that wikipedia mentions no woman in Graham Faulkner's life. Just a "family" to support when he changed careers.

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Interesting that wikipedia mentions no woman in Graham Faulkner's life. Just a "family" to support when he changed careers.

There's no doubt, I think, that, during the filming of "Brother Sun, Sister Moon", Graham Faulkner became Franco Zefferelli's "muse".

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I guess you mean in a Luchino Visconti/Massimo Girotti Ossessione sense. Massimo sure got more focus in various states of undress than Clara Calamai. Then again, she already appeared topless in a previous film, so it was only natural that he took over the topless scenes. Massimo was pretty straight but I am sure his "method" acting was improved behind closed doors with his director. This was a period when Mussolini was less focused on "rounding them up" like Hitler and everybody could do what they want to get ahead in their careers as long as the Italian front remained macho enough before the Allies invaded. (Massimo got all naked and romped around Mt. Etna 24 years later in Passolini's Teorema. Not sure if Pasolini did any coaching behind closed doors there as well since he was too easily distracted by the much younger Terence Stamp.)

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"Brother Sun, Sister Moon" is infused with a gay sensibility.

 

A straight man could not have made this film.

 

I'm not saying there is any doubt the director is gay. But there could be questions about how 'gay' the director wanted the audience to perceive him and his films. 

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He only came out in 1996. Zefferelli was pretty religious and the Vatican was never that accepting of alternative lifestyles. (With acceptions... ahem.) On the other hand, only Republican politicians think religion is anti-sex and anti-gay especially. I do not think he was ashamed of anything that happened with other consenting males, but he did have to contend with the PUBLIC morals of the time.

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I'm not saying there is any doubt the director is gay. But there could be questions about how 'gay' the director wanted the audience to perceive him and his films. 

If a film gives us loving close-ups of a young man's voluptuous derriere - three, in all - then, there is no doubt, I'd say, THAT THE DIRECTOR IS GAY.   

 

Graham%20Faulkner%202.jpg

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... unless the director is in love with his own voluptuous behind, such as Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves.

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... unless the director is in love with his own voluptuous behind, such as Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves.

LOL- or you have Ben Afleck who is all his self directed films has at least one pointless shirtless scene

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