Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 29th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 2002
Director: Michele Soavi
Cast: Raoul Bova, David Brandon, Erica Blanc
DVD released: May 30th, 2005
Approximate running time: 192 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: No Shame
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
John Francis Bernardone was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant who was thrown in a prison for fighting in a war against the noblemen of his town. While in prison he would find salvation in the word of the lord. He would renounce all of his worldly possessions after being released from prison and from then on out he would live day to day with the belief that god would provide everything he needed. He would start his crusade by building an abandoned church with his own two hands and in no time the number of his followers would grow. The Catholic Church and those who didn’t believe in Francis at first branded him a heretic before the Church ultimately changed it’s positioned when the Pope authorized the forming of the order of the Friars minor.
Basing movies on historical figures and events is never an easy task. St Francis is of the Catholic Churches most beloved saints and even though he died at the young age of forty four. He lived more in those forty four years then most men live in several lifetimes’.
Director Michele Soavi from the opening moments of the film creates an atmosphere that totally envelopes the viewer into the experience. It also helps that most of the actual locations are used in the film which only further add to the authentically of the piece Soavi is creating. Soavi also handles the epic scale of the story effortlessly as he keeps things lively and interesting for the films three plus hour time length. One minor misstep the film does overlook some important events in St Francis life like journey to the Holy Land.
The various actors in this film all give fine performances with the most mesmerizing of the lot being Raoul Bova as Francesco. Bova totally become the man he is playing whether he is expressing joy or pain you feel it as though you are there with him. There are roles that some actors are just born to play and Raoul Bova was destined to portray St Francis.
Michele Soavi was once hailed the next great horror director in Italy and then one day in the mid 1990’s he vanished from movie making all together. In more recent times he has re-emerged and is now more busy then he has ever been a director. Soavi has branched out as a director and he has worked in just about every genre. While many of his contemporizes refuse to adapt to the times and make films in different genres his willingness to take chances is a blessing in disguise. The more films that I see from Soavi from him post Dellamorte Dellamore the more I am convinced that he has evolved into the most talented director currently working in Italy.
No Shame presents St. Francis in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This film was shot for television and it is presented here in a non anamorphic widescreen. Colors are rich and lucid in tone with flesh tone looking lifelike. The image remains stable through out as there is an amazing amount of detail present especially during scenes with very little light. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement.
This release comes with one audio option the films original Italian language track which is presented here in a Dolby Digital stereo. The sound is full and all encompassing with no problems with hiss or any other sound defects. The dialog is razor sharp and always easy to discern from the rest of the mix. Removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and free of any typos have been included.
Extras for this release consist of a stills gallery and a ten minute behind the scenes segment with interviews with Michele Soavi and Raoul Bova.
No Shame has also included with this release a collectable booklet which includes bios for Michele Soavi and Raoul Bova. The booklet also includes a text pieces about one about the film and another about the real St Francis. Also included in the booklet are four text pieces written by Pietro Valsecchi, Michele Soavi, Carlo Siliotto and Raoul Bova. They all discuss their experiences working on the film.
St. Francis is an uplifting tale about one mans quest to bring the word salvation and the word of god to everyone not just the wealthy and healthy. No Shame has put together another solid DVD release that also comes with a few insightful extras’, recommended.
For more information about St. Francis visit No Shame here.