Thursday, December 14, 2006

A footnote to our discussion of cantos 10 & 11

The evening of our discussion of cantos 10-11, I happened to watch Francesco, giullare di Dio, the 1950 film directed by Roberto Rossellini and written by him and Federico Fellini. The English title is known either as Francis, God's Jester, or The Flowers of St. Francis, and the DVD was released last year by the Criterion Collection.

Rossellini is an acquired taste for many. This film, which is a series of vignettes that explore aspects of medieval notions of simplicity, folly (the "sacred fool") and humility, was shot with actual Italian monks playing Francis of Assisi and his band of followers, shows the influence of Fellini's imagination. (It is available for rental at Video Renaissance, 2243 Bee Ridge Rd.)

The reason for the mention: If you do happen to get hold of the DVD, don't miss the English Prologue that is part of the extras on the disk. It was apparently created to introduce the world of Francis through art of his time, and was later removed. It contains stills and details from the works of Cimabue, Giotto and Orcagna -- including several images of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso which are clearly indebted to Dante's visibile parlare.
Triumph of Death in the Pit of Hell, Orcagna, 1348

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