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Name of the Rose

1 rating: 4.0
A movie directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud

Based on the best-selling book by Italian author Umberto Eco. During a meeting of the papacy, a brilliant English monk, William of Baskerville, uses reason to solve a series of bizarre murders attributed to the devil--and risks being burned for heresy … see full wiki

Release Date: 1986
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Name of the Rose

With Thorns That Prick Mind and Heart

  • Jul 25, 2002
Rating:
+4
Pros: Well cast, superb settings, an excellent murder mystery

Cons: Can be slow, cannot walk away for a moment without missing a clue.

The Bottom Line: Well worth the time and attention it takes to watch.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

This is one of those rare films that I actually liked Better than the book! Don’t look at me like that. It’s shocking, I know, but true! I am not overly fond of the long-winded, heavy-handed style of author Umberto Eco, and it was more suspenseful, more fun to watch than it was to read.

This tale of deception, clerical in-fighting, murder, and the power of a reasoning mind is told by Adso, many years after the events. Adso (Christian Slater) tells us of the greatest man he ever knew, William of Baskerville, and the terrible events that he witnessed during their first venture together. It is the 14th century, and somewhere in Italy, the monks of a remote Benedictine monastery are being murdered.

This is no ordinary monastery either. During a time when free thought, scientific experiments, and knowledge were all considered to be things dangerous to the mortal soul, this monastery maintains it’s tradition of keeping the greatest library known to the Church. So dangerous is some of their rare inventory considered, in fact, that the library is heavily guarded by tricks and mazes, shrouded in mystery to all but the highest keepers of these tomes.

William (Sean Connery), who was once a member of the Inquisition, has been sent for because one by one members of the monastery have been turning up dead, and the Abbot is mystified. William is notorious for his keen analytical mind and it is the Abbot’s hope that he can unravel these murders before the monastery itself falls beneath the winds of Evil that seem to be besieging their quiet bastion.

William is soon convinced that these murders revolve around a dark and ancient tome, but he cannot seem to get any further than his astute deductions have lead him. What dark secrets lurk in this strange monastery? Why will the Abbot not allow him full access to the library? Why are all those slain found with tongue and fingers stained an ominous black? Will young Adso loose his faith before William solves these murders, or will the ruthless Inquisitor Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham) succeed in branding William a heretic first?

One cannot help being reminded of Sherlock Holmes as we listen to William’s logical deductions and somewhat wry humor. F. Murray Abraham was brilliant as harsh and suspicious Gui. This film was rated R due to not only the few somewhat gruesome bodies, but also a very intimate scene between young Adso and a local peasant girl. The settings were well chosen and the cinematography is beautiful, despite being somewhat dated since its release in the late ‘80’s.

The two greatest flaws in this film are, firstly, that it can drag a bit from time to time. Secondly, and more importantly in my mind, both the director and Umberto Eco himself assume that you will know all about the social and political affairs of Church, State, and citizenry at the time this story takes place. The book, of course, goes into endless detail about this which caused that work to drag far more than this highly suspenseful film does.

Despite these points, in the end you have a well cast, beautifully filmed, enthralling, and rather dark tale that is a treat for mind and eye. A thorny rose with a center blacker than midnight. Whether or not it is a danger to Your immortal soul, you will have to decide for yourself.


Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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