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The Name of the Rose [Blu-Ray] [Import]
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2011 BLU RAY VERSION ***

French Director Jean-Jacques Annaud had his work cut out for him. First he had to hire BAFTA-winning writer Andrew Birkin along with three other top scriptwriters to do a 'Pamplifest' of "Il Nome Della Rose" - a 500-page medieval whodunit written in Italian by Historian and Scholar Umberto Eco. Then after four years of design prep, Annaud had an entire Benedictine Abbey built to scale on hills outside of Rome in the winter of 1985. So come the opening minutes of "The Name Of The Rose" - as William of Baskerville and his novice Adso of Melk (Sean Connery and a 16-year old Christian Slater) dismount from their nags and have their hands washed inside the huge wooden gates of that fourteenth century structure - you can 'see' that Annaud spent his 17 million dollar budget wisely...

Right from the word go you are immersed in their world. The camera pans up to vertigo-inducing battlements, down to a vast courtyard, over to vestibules and quadrangle arches festooned with ecclesiastical masonry. There is little of comfort here and the only earth dug up is not for vegetables but fresh graves. Everything else is filth and grime - mud - snow - animal faeces. Then once inside - the chilling austerity continues. Stone floors, hard wooden pews and incense swinging censers at mealtime. There are marble altars with hidden latches, crypts with mounted skulls and passageways alive with droves of really fat rats. There's even a Scriptorium tower beside the Abbey where books are laboured on by hand for years - and a secretive library above it all that is accessible only through a wooden labyrinth...

As if this isn't enough - then there's the look of the inmates. It feels like Annaud sent out an all-points bulletin to hire 30 of the ugliest actors in the world. These monks, scribes and translators are like the grotesque gargoyles that loom over everything on the elevated pillars. Some of them are fat - some giggling and maniacal - others are toothless (many are all three). They all wear coarse grey cassocks and sport severe tonsure haircuts. Others have large facial warts or the scars of self-flagellation on their backs - punishment for sins of the flesh (and we're not talking about chorus girls here). Even the medical infirmary is a place of terror - with jars of dark substances that look more like torture potions than medicines and soothing poultices. This is how the fourteenth century would have looked - and felt - and it is completely believable.

It helps too to have a fantastically well-chosen cast... Principal in this is Sean Connery as a Franciscan Monk who uses sextants, magnifying glasses and his considerable intellect to solve 'conundrums' in the year of our not-so-enlightened Lord 1327. Other grotesques include William Hickey as the prophecy spouting Brother Ubertino, the veteran Italian actor Feodor Chaliapin Jr. as the 'venerable' Jorge - a blind spiritual leader who rants about 'laughter' deforming faces and making men look like monkeys. And best of all is the simpleton hunchback Salvatore (a stunning turn by "Hellboy" leading man Ron Perlman) who sticks his tongue out at people and babbles in all languages and none...

The story sees William of Baskerville brought in by a wily Abbot seeking answers and discretion (a superbly cast Michael Lonsdale). William is to investigate monks dying of what appear to be 'unnatural forces'. As more bodies succumb to murders that begin to look like signs from the Bible (a vat of pig's blood and a scented bathtub are assigned to the Blood and Water predictions of the Apocalypse) - the Holy Inquisition is eventually summoned. But God's mercy on Earth is the dreaded Bernardo Gui (a deliciously cruel F. Murray Abraham) who is the very personification of man's twisted inhumanity when corrupted by power. Brother William is now in a race against time - he knows from bitter past experience that Bernardo Gui will come to convenient explanations involving 'devils in their midst'. And with some tortured confessions - Gui will sacrifice three unfortunates to the burning stake (including Adso's girl) because he knows this will calm the spiritually panicking monks.

While all of these grotesques add to the feel - the film belongs to Connery. Relishing a properly meaty role and well-written script (especially when it's so closely linked with his favourite subject of education) - he gives his William just the right amount of Sherlock Holmes calm genius but with that touch of condescending arrogance too. William is driven - and like Holmes - has an almost dismissive disdain for life. It's as if solving the puzzle is everything - certainly more important than stopping the monster from killing his next victim. But more than this - William also suspects that nothing 'supernatural' is taking place - that someone in the Abbey is reluctant to unleash knowledge and ideas on the ordinary people - especially those written down in "...spiritually dangerous books..." And on it goes to a showdown in the labyrinth of the Scriptorium - and a peasant girl in the mist who haunts Adso into his old age (the only earthly love he has ever known)...

Words matter in this film - so the script rises to it. In an argument that William has with the permanently vexed Jorge about 'laughter as a weapon' - their sparring in front of the other monks is the stuff of brilliance. When Adso encounters the beguiling and beautiful 'girl' (played by a gorgeous Valentina Vargas) - he confides in his master about women and love. William's response is both comical and wonderful. When William hears the hunchback Salvatore utter the word "Penitenziagite" - he knows he was once a heretic. It's the war cry of the Dolcinites - an order of monks who believed in the poverty of Christ - but wanted all men to follow in the same (something the Church wasn't too keen on). So the Dolcinites slaughtered the wealthy and for good measure all the corrupt portly priests too. William's explanation to Adso of how religion can warp the mind is both humane and intelligent (the dialogue from it titles this review).

PICTURE QUALITY - there have been poor reviews of a German issue on Blu Ray - but this July 2011 copy is a USA release on Warner Brothers which is REGION FREE and will therefore play on all machines (if you type in the barcode number 883929180080 into the SEARCH bar on Amazon - it will direct to the correct version).

The picture quality is a VAST IMPROVEMENT on everything that has gone before and is defaulted to fill the entire screen (so you miss nothing). It absolutely 'isn't perfect' by any means - but it is beautiful in many more places - something the DVD issues notoriously failed to deliver on. There are so many great moments where the clarity is shocking now - Connery looks out the window at a mound of clay being pecked by a crow - food chucked out through a trapdoor at the back of the Abbey and allowed to roll down the hill to the clambering peasants below ("another generous donation to the poor from the church..."). Even the night sequences when they're scurrying around the desolate courtyard areas are superbly clear. There are times when blocking and some speckling appear (fog engulfing the Abbey) - but it's rare. This is the BEST the print's ever been and the stunning/sinister score by JAMES HORNER has also been given an upgrade so it rattles out through your speakers with real force. The 'Extras' of the 2DVD set are all here too (some subtitles have been lost - see list below).

"The Name Of The Rose" is the very definition of a 'cult' movie - and like "The Big Lebowski" and "Brazil" - quotes from it litter the net. It blew me away when I first saw it and it's been in my top ten ever since. So if you're a fan, you should buy this BLU RAY version - and if you're new to it, then dig in.

And remember - when a man is found in a monastery stable with a witch, a black cat and a cockerel - it doesn't necessarily mean he isn't a nice person...

BLU RAY Specifications:
VIDEO: 1080p High Definition 16x9 1.85:1
AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 and Spanish 1.0
SPOKEN LANGUAGES: English, French, Italian, Castellano, Czech (Cesky), Hungarian (Magyar), Polish
SUBTITLES: English (For The Hearing Impaired), French, Italian (For The Hearing Impaired), Castellano, Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech (Cesky), Danish (Dansk), Finnish (Suomi), Hungarian (Magyar), Norwegian (Norsk), Polish, Portuguese, Swedish (Svenska)

EXTRAS:
2 x Feature Length Commentaries by Director JEAN-JACQUES ANNAUD - one in English and the other in French (with English subtitles)
"The Abbey Of Crime - Umberto Eco's The Name Of The Rose" - A Detailed Making Of In German and French with subtitles (40 minutes)
Photo Video Journey with Jean-Jacques Annaud (10 minutes)
Theatrical Trailer
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78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Adapted from Umberto Eco, s award winning wordy novel The Name of the Rose is a sombre gloomy thriller set in a Benedictine Abbey high in the Italian Appennino Mountains during the 14th century.
Told from the perspective of a now elderly Azdo of Melk who narrates part of the script, we learn he was once a gauche apprentice to Brother William of Baskerville (A sly nod to Conan Doyle surely.), an erudite Franciscan Monk with highly developed powers of deductive reasoning. This Medieval Crackers singular talent is called upon when after arriving at the forbidding Abbey to attend a Seminary on "Wether or not Christ owned his own clothes?" a series of bizarre murders occur. The Head of the Abbey Father Abbot, played by a sibilantly murmuring and creepy Michael Lonsdale, asks Baskerville to discreetly investigate before the arrival of the Inquisitor Gui who has a nasty habit of torturing and burning ostensibly innocent people. Baskerville, wonderfully portrayed by Sean Connery as a man of considerable learning with a penchant for sudden outbursts of almost childlike enthusiasm, dispenses the benefit of his perceptive analysis of the situation to his eager charge who in turn has his head turned by a feral but attractive girl who scrounges for scraps of food disposed of by the well tended brothers. Christian Slater forgoes his vanity to play the young Adzo complete with Peter Beardsley bowl cut and the requisite bald patch and is suitably wide eyed with wonder one minute and intimidated the next.
The film starts out as an intriguing whodunnit but with the arrival of the sadistic Gui the tone suddenly turns darker as he targets the unfortunate girl and a mentally challenged Brother (Ron Perlman..superb) because they haven't the means to defend themselves, naturally much to the consternation of Baskerville.
This is a superb atmospheric movie. The Monastery is a suitably bleak and labyrinthine, it radiates hidden frigid menace and the Brothers are a truly bizarre collection of individuals, like a meeting of Terry Gilliam grotesques. Connery has stated he was never as cold on a film set as he was during the filming of The Name of the Rose and you can tell. The acting is all spot on and the direction by Jean Jacques Anaud lets the story flow in a naturalistic unfussy manner. The ending is touching in a subtle almost poetic way
It's terrific that a film as individual and compelling as this is at last being released on DVD and hopefully more will follow. Can I request through these pages the immediate release of "To Live and Die in L.A."? "Hardware", "Talk Radio" and "Scandal". But for now those of us with a love for films that eschew the formulaic Hollywood norm this is a must have five star release,
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2004
This film is one of those that stands out to me as Connery at his best ... and also not Connery. Typically in his films he's a dominant, hero, who charges forth to save the day. In Name of the Rose he's reserved, humble and most importantly he's not Connery. Although a mystery this film handles human nature, explores the role of the church in developing (Or in this case not developeing) the western world, examines sexuality and by and large is a wonderful piece of cinema.
With todays films being manufactured to carefully examined research on what viewers want, it's these older films that were crafted for love of story and picture that stand out for me. Name of the Rose is superbly shot, with breathtaking accuracy. One feels cold, isolated, muddy, and in a different world. Christian Slatter makes his film debut as the novice and to my mind really shows us that he is one hot actor.
All in all Name of the Rose is one for the collection, to be watched and appreciated as a solid piece of film making.
I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 December 2014
The perfect gift for all Historical movie enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

Sean Connery of course plays William of Baskerville, our nominal lead and very much a Sherlock Holmes figure of his day as crafted by Eco, based on an amalgam of historical figures. Connery as a virginal Franciscan monk? Surely about as ironic casting as you can get, but it works surprisingly well. Connery's always been a slightly underrated actor and if he brings his usual accent to the role, he also brings a quiet charisma and gravitas along with him, working nicely in his interactions with Christian Slater as his mentee Adsil.

Slater is almost unrecognisable, clad in monk garb & playing naive, fresh, childlike at times; it's a more complex role than it first appears, especially given in many ways its Adsil's story as the whole piece is narrated by his older self, but Slater plays the part well. Both are supported by a cast Annaud spent much time assembling to create a unique feel, a rogues gallery of the bizarre & slightly unnerving, including the aforementioned Perlman who is as great as ever in a quite tragic part actually, Michael Lonsdale filled with quiet dignity as the Abbot, and eventually F. Murray Abraham being as brilliantly cold & callous as few can do as well as he, as the inquisitor who pushes the narrative into a rather tense and unexpectedly thrilling climax.

Annaud takes his time constructing the story, building up the abbey setting as almost a character itself - stark, remote, cold, open, haunting and oppressive, his direction managing to create a sense of unease throughout the running time, if as I say he takes a shade too long in unraveling the mystery itself.

The Name of the Rose won't be for everyone. It's a slow building picture, set in a quite unappealing place, without the trappings of traditional movi fare- though Annaud does throw in a surprisingly sexy love scene. Give it a chance however, as it might well surprise you - Connery & Slater make for an appealing Holmes/Watson of the Medieval age, the mystery involved is intriguing and inventive, and the whole piece has much to say on the power of religious word, of belief, of faith and ultimately the power of love. One of a kind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Set in 1327 the story is of a Benedictine Abbey where the monks believe the end of the World is coming after an unexplained death. The Abbey is to play host to a council on the Franciscan's Order's who thinks the church should rid itself of its wealth, William of Baskerville played by Sean Connery who is a respected Monk is asked to assist in determining the cause of the untimely death unfortunately more deaths occur the investigation draws closer to uncovering the secret the Abbey wants hidden, and there is finally the Holy Inquisition who are asked to an active part in finding out the reason for the deaths, William and his young novice Adso of Melk played by Christian Slater must race against time to prove the innocence of the unjustly accused and avoid the wrath of Holy Inquisitor Bernardo Gui played with a great deal of menace by F. Murray Abraham
This 1986 production directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud comes to Blu-ray in August 2011 sadly only released in America but this region free 50GB disc is encoded using the MPEG-4 AVC codec in full 1080p resolution in the aspect ratio of 1.77:1 this changed from the original aspect of 1.85:1 this is no great hardship the DVD was of a similar presentation which was 1.78:1 from the 1.85:1 the picture which is an up-grade from the DVD with a sharper and more detailed picture but the real star of this of this disc is the audio which not be all explosions and gunfire but the ambience of the halls and stone rooms with their weird echoes that waft across the sound field give a very unsettling sound presentation the English DTS-HD Master Audio is a real joy there are also tracks in Dolby Stereo in French, Italian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian and a Mono track in Spanish and there are Subtitles in English for the hard of hearing, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Polish, Swedish and Norwegian.
The Extra features include the following: - Commentary by the director Jean-Jacques Annaud
Theatrical Trailer
Photo Video Journey with the Director
The making of Documentary “The Abbey of Crime”
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2004
Finally.....Name of the Rose is released on DVD. It seems like I have been waiting an age for this absolute gem of a film. Probably since the day I acquired my first DVD player in fact.
In 1986, I was dragged against my will by an old girlfriend to see this film in the cinema. All I knew about it was that it was something about monks - not my cup of tea I was sure. I was determined to hate it! Instead of the 2 hours of boredom that I was expecting, what I got was a bizarre, grotesque, visually stunning, thrilling, chilling, thought-provoking and genuinely frightening tale of murder and heresy. With unforgetable characters, the glmoomiest of settings, and a truely fantastic whodunnit plot, complete with superb resolution at the climax, this film works on so many levels. I absolutely loved every minute of it. As a devoted fan of the great James Whale, the Name of the Rose feels like the man was reborn somehow to work his magic one more time.
A truely must-own movie! And watch out for the climactic scenes set in the M.C Escher-like library labyrinth. Just Fantastic.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2003
Bit of an oddity, this filmed version of the 14th Century whodunnit written by Umberto Eco (Travels In Hyper-reality, Foucault's Pendulum, The Island Of The Day Before), University of Bologna Professor of Semiotics (a disputed 'scientific branch of philosophy' first posited by Ferdinand de Saussure). A pan-European co-production, "Curious, remote, randomly developed and edited, [...] can never have been an obvious candidate for box-office success: yet it did pretty well."

Both moody and gloomy (there is very little daylight throughout the film), it is more or less narrated by a mature Adzo of Melk, who as a young Franciscan noviciate (Christian Slater) accompanies William of Baskerville (Sean Connery; Oscar-nominated for Best Actor) to an isolated Benedictine abbey high in the bleak northern Italian Appennino mountains to engage, along with delegates from other monastic Orders, in discourse upon "whether or not Christ owned his own clothes." [Believe it or not, such scholastic debate was not uncommon at the time. A century later, upon the onset of the Renaissance, another profound debate occurred when artists considered whether or not Adam should be depicted with a navel ... or not ...].

Unfortunately, whilst there, the second in a spate of mysterious - and 'prophesized,' of course - deaths occurs, prompting the Benedictine Father Abbot (the ever soft-spoken Michael Lonsdale) to ask Baskerville to - discreetely, of course - apply his known gift of deductive suppositioning to explain these deaths, before the feared Inquisitor Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham) arrives and starts burning people. Applying Socratic reason and dropping witticisms and bon mots to his young charge, Baskerville (is the Doylean name significant, one wonders!) pokes around the incredible squalour of every-day monastic life (the abbey makes the Bates Motel seem idyllic), in the face of mounting scepticism (Gui produces a simple local girl with a black cat - 'clear proof,' surely, of satanic possession, demonic skulduggery and Whore of Babylon guilt!), until the mystery is unravelled.

NOTE: unregarded by general opinion, the Papal Inquisition, granted by Pope Gregorius IX in 1231 to 'inquisitors' drawn from the Dominican and Franciscan Orders, existed long before both the better-known Spanish Inquisition [1479] and the fanatical Societá de Jesu, the Society of Jesus (or Jesuit Order) [1534-40], came into being. It authorized the auto da fé ('act of faith') burnings at the stake usually associated with the Spanish Inquisition.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
This film is a fascinating combination of modern and medieval elements. The setting is an abbey, whose name according to the narrator, 'it seems pious and prudent to omit'. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Umberto Eco, a semiologist and intellectual I had the pleasure of meeting twice - once at my university in America, and then again a few years later in London. Semiotics is a study of signs - in many ways, my theological training parallels, and it is this kind of parallel that is at the heart of the novel.
There is a debate about to be had at the high, inaccessible abbey. This debate, according to the leading Franciscan participant, is one that can determine the theology of the church for generations to come. So pivotal was this issue that papal envoys and monastics from around Christendom have gathered to determine the answer to the question - did Christ, or did he not, own the clothes he wore.
This is a play on the kind of theological musings that, then and now, distract the church from its proper functions of being a witness to the world. One could imagine the question of how many angels dancing on the head of a pin being used by Eco, except that that would be far too obvious a silliness.
However 'pivotal' this conference may be to the future of Christendom, it is in fact incidental to the storyline of the film. The real story revolves around the happenings at the hosting abbey, a Benedictine community whose vocation involves the preservation and transcription of a major library (libraries being full of books, written in language, full of signs and symbols). However, two things become immediately apparent - there don't seem to be any books around, and the transcriptionists are dying one by one.
Enter William of Baskerville (the name an obvious homage, a sign of respect, to Sherlock Holmes). William is a Franciscan journeying to the abbey with his novice, Adso, to take part in the upcoming conference. The Abbot enlists William's assistance in discovering how the monks are dying, which he does with Holmesian technique and precision. Analysing data such as footprints, fall-patterns from hillsides, and other such observational information, he comes to a few conclusions, but these distress the head librarian, who has seen it as his task to protect the world from blashphemous books (ironically, while maintaining their existence within the confines of the great library's labyrinth).
While William and Adso do their Holmes and Watson in a scientific manner, one of the other Franciscan visitors decides to apply a different interpretation to the happenings, preferring to see in the murderous environment of the abbey the signs of the apocalypse, particularly worrisome given the nature of the pivotal conference soon to take place.
Unfortunately for William, just as he is getting close to the truth, the Inquisition is called (no one expects the Spanish Inquistition), and in the figure of Bernardo Gui, the Inquisition descends upon the abbey with full force and terror. Gui accepts neither William's rational explanations nor Ubertino's end-times interpretations, preferring a more common staple of Inquisition deciphering - it must be the work of the devil. Finding a black cat and a woman smuggled into the abbey only help confirm this, particularly in an environment that sees little value in either.
Ultimately, however, the interpretation is wrong. William and Adso finally discover a way into the library, and make the further discovery that the key text the librarian is trying to hide is one by Aristotle, his work on Comedy, for he fears that in the Scholastic environment of the church, in which Aristotle is seen as the rational side of God's wisdom, that a book by Aristotle that permits laughter would be the undoing to the world.
In the end, the library burns with few books saved, the conference ends without a resolution, the Inquisition gets a judgement leveled against itself in a very 'just-desserts' fashion, and William and Adso depart.
But what of the name of the rose? We never learn the name of the rose; indeed, the rose is yet one more sign, a symbol for the love of Adso's life, the woman accused of being a witch. As the final credits fall, we learn that in the midst of all the tumult, Adso never learned her name.
The performances here are solid and gripping. Sean Connery plays William of Baskerville with aplomb. A young Christian Slater is a good novice, with still enough innocence to his performance to be believable. The abbot is played by Michael Lonsdale (not too many years off of playing a James Bond villain). Special mention goes to Helmut Qualtinger, who played the librarian Brother Remigio, who died just hours after filming his last scene, and was frequently in pain from the illness he was suffering during filming. William Hickey plays Franciscan Ubertino with an air of strangeness and mystery. Finally, F. Murray Abraham plays the dreaded Bernardo Gui, in every way as psychologically beguiling as in his starring role in 'Amadeus', but unfortunately with a much smaller role in this film.
Despite not making an Oscar bid, this film won numerous awards throughout Europe, including the BAFTA best actor award for Connery. It also was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe award for mystery film.
The sets are dramatic, the costumes are perfect (particularly the contrast between the simplicity of the Franciscans, the durability of the Benedictines, the opulence of the papal envoys, the flair of the Inquisitors, and the rags of the peasants - all signs of a stratified society). The film is done in a cinematographic style that gives an overall feel of isolation; the abbey is isolated from the world, and the people are detached from each other for the most part.
This is a remarkable film in many ways, and one that I frequently turn to again to see what new signs I missed the last time through.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This film is a fascinating combination of modern and medieval elements. The setting is an abbey, whose name according to the narrator, 'it seems pious and prudent to omit'. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Umberto Eco, a semiologist and intellectual I had the pleasure of meeting twice - once at my university in America, and then again a few years later in London. Semiotics is a study of signs - in many ways, my theological training parallels, and it is this kind of parallel that is at the heart of the novel.
There is a debate about to be had at the high, inaccessible abbey. This debate, according to the leading Franciscan participant, is one that can determine the theology of the church for generations to come. So pivotal was this issue that papal envoys and monastics from around Christendom have gathered to determine the answer to the question - did Christ, or did he not, own the clothes he wore.
This is a play on the kind of theological musings that, then and now, distract the church from its proper functions of being a witness to the world. One could imagine the question of how many angels dancing on the head of a pin being used by Eco, except that that would be far too obvious a silliness.
However 'pivotal' this conference may be to the future of Christendom, it is in fact incidental to the storyline of the film. The real story revolves around the happenings at the hosting abbey, a Benedictine community whose vocation involves the preservation and transcription of a major library (libraries being full of books, written in language, full of signs and symbols). However, two things become immediately apparent - there don't seem to be any books around, and the transcriptionists are dying one by one.
Enter William of Baskerville (the name an obvious homage, a sign of respect, to Sherlock Holmes). William is a Franciscan journeying to the abbey with his novice, Adso, to take part in the upcoming conference. The Abbot enlists William's assistance in discovering how the monks are dying, which he does with Holmesian technique and precision. Analysing data such as footprints, fall-patterns from hillsides, and other such observational information, he comes to a few conclusions, but these distress the head librarian, who has seen it as his task to protect the world from blashphemous books (ironically, while maintaining their existence within the confines of the great library's labyrinth).
While William and Adso do their Holmes and Watson in a scientific manner, one of the other Franciscan visitors decides to apply a different interpretation to the happenings, preferring to see in the murderous environment of the abbey the signs of the apocalypse, particularly worrisome given the nature of the pivotal conference soon to take place.
Unfortunately for William, just as he is getting close to the truth, the Inquisition is called (no one expects the Spanish Inquistition), and in the figure of Bernardo Gui, the Inquisition descends upon the abbey with full force and terror. Gui accepts neither William's rational explanations nor Ubertino's end-times interpretations, preferring a more common staple of Inquisition deciphering - it must be the work of the devil. Finding a black cat and a woman smuggled into the abbey only help confirm this, particularly in an environment that sees little value in either.
Ultimately, however, the interpretation is wrong. William and Adso finally discover a way into the library, and make the further discovery that the key text the librarian is trying to hide is one by Aristotle, his work on Comedy, for he fears that in the Scholastic environment of the church, in which Aristotle is seen as the rational side of God's wisdom, that a book by Aristotle that permits laughter would be the undoing to the world.
In the end, the library burns with few books saved, the conference ends without a resolution, the Inquisition gets a judgement leveled against itself in a very 'just-desserts' fashion, and William and Adso depart.
But what of the name of the rose? We never learn the name of the rose; indeed, the rose is yet one more sign, a symbol for the love of Adso's life, the woman accused of being a witch. As the final credits fall, we learn that in the midst of all the tumult, Adso never learned her name.
The performances here are solid and gripping. Sean Connery plays William of Baskerville with aplomb. A young Christian Slater is a good novice, with still enough innocence to his performance to be believable. The abbot is played by Michael Lonsdale (not too many years off of playing a James Bond villain). Special mention goes to Helmut Qualtinger, who played the librarian Brother Remigio, who died just hours after filming his last scene, and was frequently in pain from the illness he was suffering during filming. William Hickey plays Franciscan Ubertino with an air of strangeness and mystery. Finally, F. Murray Abraham plays the dreaded Bernardo Gui, in every way as psychologically beguiling as in his starring role in 'Amadeus', but unfortunately with a much smaller role in this film.
Despite not making an Oscar bid, this film won numerous awards throughout Europe, including the BAFTA best actor award for Connery. It also was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe award for mystery film.
The sets are dramatic, the costumes are perfect (particularly the contrast between the simplicity of the Franciscans, the durability of the Benedictines, the opulence of the papal envoys, the flair of the Inquisitors, and the rags of the peasants - all signs of a stratified society). The film is done in a cinematographic style that gives an overall feel of isolation; the abbey is isolated from the world, and the people are detached from each other for the most part.
This is a remarkable film in many ways, and one that I frequently turn to again to see what new signs I missed the last time through.
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on 29 March 2015
It's always a pleasure to watch Sean Connery on the screen, an actor who seems always to enjoy what he's doing and who knows his strengths and limitations as an actor, and who is especially good when his character has a bit of histrionic flair in him, as is the case here. Throw in F. Murray Abraham, Ron Perlman, and some good European actors, and the brew looks potent. But the pacing . . .! It's glacial, and it seems to me that the creation of moody medieval atmosphere, owing something to Bergman and something to Piranesi, has been pursued by the director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, at the expense of tension and character-interest. Visually, the movie often looks good, but there's a limit to how much moody winter fog and threatening-looking stonework is interesting. And maybe the writing lacks snap -- another slow Connery movie, "The Hunt for Red October," worked much better, perhaps because the writing was better and plot-tension was better maintained.

Connery plays William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar who happens to be an Enlightenment Man "avant la lettre," so to speak. We have to believe that his order is under threat from these nasty Benedictines, who seem to run the Inquisition and are ready to condemn as heretics anyone who disagrees with them on Jesus's priorities. (They believe that Jesus would have been just fine with the courtly splendor and pageantry of the Papacy at the time -- the Franciscans want to help "the poor," and some have even been known to have taken up arms against what they see as papal excess). William's belief, though, is in human intelligence to solve human problems (like murder), and he is always ready to see the work of bad men where others see the work of the devil. Raising fear of the devil -- and fear of doubt -- is part of the Benedictine agenda to keep people in line, and Connery is having none of it. He solves murders like a modern detective, and to the extent that this runs counter to the Inquisition's methods, he makes himself unpopular with the powers that be. Think of a modern detective whose methods are distrusted by the authorities and you get the picture. This is that kind of story, taken backwards in time.

F, Murray Abraham is the Inquisition representative who has tangled with William before (think of him as an "internal affairs" inspector if this were a modern story), and he's effective in an almost caricatured role. The young Christian Bale is Adso, William's rather limp assistant, whose main job is to ask William questions so that we can see how smart William is and to lose his virginity so that we can see that William isn't too hung up on matters like that (the whole sexual part of Adso's story is cloyingly sentimental). Ron Perlman has some memorable moments as the disfigured Salvatore, and Fyodor Chaliapin Jr is the Venerable Jorge, who seems deeply committed to the idea that humor and laughter have no place in the spiritual life. The possible existence of an Aristotelian treatise on Comedy in the abbey library is a serious question for William. If it's there, why is it being hidden away, and does the fact that it is have anything to do with a number of mysterious deaths? William's enlightened rationalism is presented as Aristotelian. To what extent ANY of this has any historical basis, I have no idea, and I don't know whether or not the movie is faithful to the spirit of Umberto Eco's novel on which it was based -- but that doesn't matter. There's material here for a good thriller -- but it's just too darned slow.
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