The Name of the Rose (Der Name Der Rose) (1986)

JEAN-JACQUES ANNAUD

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

France/Italy/West Germany, 1986.  Constantin Film, Cristaldifilm, Les Films Ariane, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen.  Screenplay by , , , , based on the novel by Il Nome Della Rosa by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Shallow adaptation of Umberto Eco’s popular novel that never really achieves much more than presenting an ordinary murder mystery in an extraordinary surrounding: a cloistered monastery in Inquisition-era Italy. Sean Connery plays a Franciscan monk with radically modern ideas who arrives at an isolated Benedictine abbey immediately following the mysterious death of one of its monks. He and his youthfully bright assistant () set about to solve the crime, surprised when it is followed by the appearance of more dead bodies. Things do not improve when a leading force of the Inquisition (F. Murray Abraham) comes to the Abbey in search of a trial to uncover devilish witchcraft amongst Christ’s followers. The plot can barely keep itself awake for the whole two hours, meandering on countless, uninteresting details before the eventual revelation of the culprit. What saves it from being totally unwatchable is director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s impressive attention to historical accuracy: you feel like you’ve gone back in a time machine with the impressive sets and moody photography, both of which create a stimulating atmosphere of religious fervour and ignorant terror that unfortunately the screenplay never lives up to.

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