Roberto Rossellini was one of the most influential directors of all time and challenged the language and rules of filmmaking and I feel like that influence from this film was heavy inspiration for Andrei Tarkovsky when he did Amdrei Rublev.
As a celebration of mankind's inescapable flaws and weaknesses, as well as the joy of communal living, the film makes an argument that saints, far from being modeled after canons of perfection, are closer to those in the harshest needs.
Beautifully shot film that presents vignettes from the life of Francis of Assisi that presents so-called Christian values of charity, sacrifice, and poverty. Mind you its also a group of men blindly following a self proclaimed vessel of God. One person's viewing could be a deeply religious experience allowing them to question the tenets of their own faith, but another's take may be the cult like aspects shown.
Let's say it wasn't as profound or transcendental as promised, and as my third Rossellini film after Rome, Open City and Voyage in Italy it was a bit of a let-down. Visually it's a beautiful film, and some segments are amazing, but as a whole it just feels average and unexciting.
If you're already familiar with the text or at least have an open mind, this is a film of absolute freedom, and a profound love of the world, as you take, as his followers did. There is a lot of playfulness, Rossellini is a mature director and was neither mocking nor sentimental, he was free, like them.
Its apparent formlessness gives way to the calm simplicity of nature and peaceful human behaviour: those images of the group of friars running through the fields, either soaked in rain or sunlit, are convincing in depicting freedom and joy.