Oral History: Franco Zeffirelli on Young Revolutionaries

by Elisa Leonelli September 14, 2020
Franco Zeffirelli

HFPA Archives

HFPA journalists interviewed Franco Zeffirelli, the Italian film director who passed away in 2019 at the age of 96, several times. In 1973, speaking of his movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon about Francis of Assisi, he said:

“I think the problem of dropouts it’s eternal and perennial, in the ‘60s we talked a little more about it, but it’s always been there, and it was at the time of Francis of Assisi in the 12th century."

"If you think about it, all the revolutions in the world, in the history of man, have been made by kids of 21, 22 from the affluent class that dropped out from his condition and started a new idea. Think of one revolution and you will find out who’s behind it. Lenin was 22 when he started preparing the Russian Revolution, long before we heard about him."

"It was something I’ve experienced myself at that age, the need of breaking away from certain patterns and finding a new dimension, a new communication with my neighbor, a path to innocence, and simplicity. That feeling has been in many of our hearts when we were young. And even now, I’m sure that all of us are longing for the possibility of communicating directly, of getting involved in simpler things and find the truth in the small things in life. It’s a general thing."

"I felt that the time had come to tell about the beautiful things that man is able to do, the nice qualities of us, the kids are looking and longing for something hopeful, and I thought there couldn’t have been anything more hopeful than the story of Francis of Assisi."

"I never lost contact with my youth, I never stopped thinking as a young person, and I identify immediately with the agony and the anguish of a young person. As a director, I have a professional knowledge of working with completely green actors, which is a lovely challenge, and these young people need to be encouraged today, we have to create a new generation of actors.”

Read Franco Zeffirelli, Florentine Renaissance Man, 1923-2019 by Yoram Kahana.