Roberto Rossellini no doubt made some key films associated with the Italian Neo-Realist movement - 'Rome, Open City', 'Germany, Year Zero', 'Paisa' & 'Voyage to Italy'- 'Francis, God's Jester' seems a little overlooked as a result.
This DVD is therefore a welcome issue showcasing Rossellini's biopic co-written with Federico Fellini and based on the books 'The Little Flowers of St Francis' & 'The Life of Brother Ginepro' (there is also an excellent book written by the author of 'The Last Temptation' & 'Zorba the Greek', Nikos Kazantzakis).
As with many films associated with the Neo-Realist movement and Italian-films that followed (La Terra Trema, Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D, Rome Open City, Accattone, The Gospel According to St Matthew,Salo), 'Francis, God's Jester' uses non-professional actors. It's actually quite a comic film- something Martin Scorsese picked up on recently when discussing it and other Rossellini films in his documentary on Italian Cinema and the opposite of the standard religious film more commonly made. 'Francis, God's Jester' appears to focus more on the idea of love via Christ and the positive force of the good news - something you don't really get from 'The Passion of the Christ' which seems limited regarding such a notion...
The film opens with the Franciscan order who leave the confines of their monastery to go and spread the word - a film that is quite simple, but no less a joy for it. 'Francis, God's Jester' is an extremely enjoyable film, possibly moreso with each subsequent viewing - wonderful to see it reissed!