Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Writer: Andrew Birkin, Gerard Brach, Howard Franklin, Alain Godard, Umberto Eco
Producer: Bernd Eichinger
Cast: Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Michael Lonsdale, Ron Perlman, F. Murray Abraham
Running Time: 126 min.
By JJ Hatfield
In 1327 The Franciscan Order representatives are gathering with Pope John to determine if the Church should take vows of poverty or profit. This is a most important meeting hosted by the Franciscan Benedictine Abbey in the north of Italy. The Franciscan Monks are of a mind that the great apocalypse is at hand after a mysterious death within the dark dank halls.
A well respected Franciscan Monk is asked to help determine the cause of the unexplained death. More deaths follow and the answer to the mystery must be determined before the Holy Inquisition is brought to the Abbey itself!
Sean Connery portrays a highly respected and intelligent Franciscan monk, Brother William, Baskerville who arrives with a young novice Adso (Christian Slater). Brother William is appointed to discover how the deaths occurred. The more mysterious deaths (murders?) the closer it brings him to the answer. Unfortunately it will also bring the Holy Inquisitor right to the Abbey if Brother William and Adso do not find the one who is guilty of the murders.
The Holy Inquisitor is played to sadistic perfection by Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham) He holds the appointed position by the decree of the Pope to hunt down and free the Church of those who do not agree, considered dangerous heretics. The Holy Inquisitor sees and hears the devil behind every bad incident, and occurrences that are not necessarily bad. Even positive events are suspect as having been rewarded by the devil himself. As he makes his terrible away across the land towards the Benedictine Abbey he leaves very little left alive. He has a penchant for using fire for interrogation and for the cleansing after the confessions.
Connery brings intelligence, wit, sarcasm and patience to the character and won “Best Actor” for his role. He is also dignified and thorough and understands there are reasons for acts of human flesh, both good and evil. Connery is exceptional in his role. He is true to those values the Church is supposed to be associated with, not fanatics looking for any reason to give them almost limitless “godlike?” power. Slater, quite young in this 1986 release, turns in an acceptable performance. There is one “heretic” among the monks. Salvatore (Ron Perlman) who has some interesting exchanges with Gui. Very engaging.
The film is from the book by Umberto Eco. It is nearly always impossible to turn a book into a film without deleting something. Obviously there are going to have to be re – writes and some events will have to be dropped as there is simply not enough time. However this is one film that captured the spirit of the book and managed to get that across to viewers even in limited time. As it is this movie running time is 126 minutes however “The Name Of The Rose” will hold your attention until the very end.
Shot in Italy, Germany and France there are some beautiful landscapes but most of the film is in the dark, cold secluded monastery. There is a bit of Latin, for the most part however the film is in English. What you might miss is not part of the plot and only occasionally is used. Cinematography was better than average especially the filming in areas of the monastery. Combined with the music it successfully recreated much of the unknown and claustrophobic atmosphere that are such an essential part in the book.
This is a film you will want to purchase. Even in seeming nothingness there are things happening that ensures you will be watching this one again. Highly Recommended.
Connery truly deserved the “Best Actor”!
JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 8/10