Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
France/Italy/West Germany, 1986. Constantin Film, Cristaldifilm, Les Films Ariane, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. Screenplay by Andrew Birkin, Gerard Brach, Howard Franklin, Alain Godard, based on the novel by Il Nome Della Rosa by Umberto Eco. Cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli. Produced by Bernd Eichinger, Bernd Schaefers. Music by James Horner. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Gabriella Pescucci. Film Editing by Jane Seitz.
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 (Christian Slater) 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.