The film dramatizes about a dozen vignettes from the life of St. Francis and his early followers - starting with their return in the rain to Rivotorlo from Rome when the Pope blessed their Rule and ending with their dispersal to preach. The unconnected chapters are like parables, some with a moral. The slight and comic Ginepro returns naked to St. Mary's of the Angels, having given away his tunic, but not his ricotta. The aged Giovanni shouts and holds onto his cape; the beatific St. Clair pays a visit. Humble Francis doubts his leadership, hugs a leper, and sends his brothers spinning, dizzy, and smiling into the world. This brotherhood is infused with whimsy as well as belief.
The quartets of Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa presented here bring to mind a fusion of Western avant-garde textures and extended instrumental techniques with traditional Japanese aesthetics. It's an immensely absorbing combination, and his music appears to have evolved over the years in a more Japanese direction while not losing any of its innovative qualities. Consider the opening work, Blossoming, which true to its name depicts the blossoming of a flower. It sounds like a hackneyed concept, but the realization here is striking: the action unfolds over nearly 14 minutes coalescing out of silence and then a panoply of minute details.