The Flowers of St. Francis

Francesco, giullare di Dio

Roberto Rossellini, Italie, 1950, Carlotta films


Rossellini made the choice to centre his film around brother Ginepro rather than on the character that is the topic of the film and name in the title, St Francis. He therefore show us indirectly St Francis’ life through one of the brothers around him.

In this scene, we actually never see St Francis, and the main character is indeed Ginepro. To please an ill brother who asked for it, he goes to find a pig foot for dinner. He meet a herd and cut one of the pigs foot with his knife explaining him kindly that it’s for a good cause and that it’s its chance to spread good around and comfort the poor sick monk.

Rossellini obviously did not want to show Ginepro actually cutting a living pig’s foot, which would have been unbearable for the spectator to watch and would have made Ginepro a cruel man. He therefore evokes the act underlining with humour the masking artificial technique he uses. The scene is nearly a joke. He shows Ginepro sinking into a thicket chasing the pig. The bush closes down on him and acts as a screen. The film-maker let us imagine, through the sound (the pig’s growl), the action taking place. The bush moves because of the supposed fight between Ginepro and the pig just like in a puppet theatre. Then Ginepro comes out from the bush which the foot in his hand, probably bought at the butcher’s by one of the assistant.