The Name of the Rose (film)

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The Name of the Rose
Name of rose movieposter.jpg
original film poster by Drew Struzan
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud
Produced by Franco Cristaldi
Bernd Eichinger
Alexandre Mnouchkine
Bernd Schaefers
Herman Weigel
Screenplay by Andrew Birkin
Gérard Brach
Howard Franklin
Alain Godard
Based on The Name of the Rose 
by Umberto Eco
Starring Sean Connery
F. Murray Abraham
Christian Slater
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Tonino Delli Colli
Edited by Jane Seitz
Production
company
Cristaldi Film
Radiotelevisione Italiana
Neue Constantin Film
France 3 Cinema
Les Films De Ariane
Acteurs Auteurs Associés
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
(USA & Canada)
Columbia Pictures
(International)
Release dates
  • September 24, 1986 (1986-09-24) (United States)
  • October 16, 1986 (1986-10-16) (West Germany)
  • October 17, 1986 (1986-10-17) (Italy)
  • December 17, 1986 (1986-12-17) (France)
Running time
126 minutes
Country Italy
West Germany
France
Language English
Budget $18.5 million[1]
Box office $77,153,487

The Name of the Rose (Italian: Il nome della rosa, German: Der Name der Rose, French: Le nom de la rose) is a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is the Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and Christian Slater is his apprentice Adso of Melk, who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval abbey.

Plot[edit]

Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his novice, Adso of Melk (narrating as an old man), arrive at an early 14th century Benedictine abbey in Northern Italy. A mysterious death has occurred ahead of an important theological Church conference. William, known for his deductive and analytic mind, confronts the worried Abbot and gains permission to investigate the death – a young illuminator appears to have committed suicide. Over the next few days, several other bizarre deaths occur, and the two gradually discover that everything is not what it seems in the abbey.

William and Adso also make the acquaintance of Salvatore, a demented hunchback who speaks gibberish in various languages, and his handler and protector, Remigio da Varagine who, as events prove, also has a shady past. William quickly deduces from Salvatore's speech that he had once been a member of a heretical sect and infers that Salvatore and Remigio may have been involved in the killings. Meanwhile, Adso encounters a beautiful semi-feral peasant girl who has apparently sneaked into the abbey to trade sexual favours for food; she seduces him, and he falls in love with her.

Investigating and keen to head off accusations of demonic possession, the protagonists discover and explore a labyrinthine library in the abbey's forbidden principal tower. William is astonished to find that it is "one of the greatest libraries in all Christendom," containing dozens of works by Classical masters such as Aristotle, thought to have been lost for centuries. William deduces that the library is kept hidden because such advanced knowledge, coming from pagan philosophers, is difficult to reconcile with Christianity. It becomes clear that the only remaining copy of Aristotle's Second Book of Poetics is somehow related to the deaths. He further deduces that all of those who died had read the book.

His investigations are curtailed by the arrival of Bernardo Gui of the Inquisition, summoned for the conference and keen to prosecute those he deems responsible for the deaths. The two men clashed in the past, and the zealous inquisitor has no time for theories outside his own. Salvatore and the girl are found fighting over a black cockerel while in the presence of a black cat. Gui presents this as irrefutable proof that they are in league with Satan and tortures Salvatore into confessing. Salvatore, Remigio, and the girl are dragged before a tribunal, where Gui intimidates the Abbot into concurring with his judgment of heresy. But William, also "invited" by Gui to serve on the panel of judges, refuses to confirm the accusations of murder, pointing out that the murderer could read Greek, a skill that Remigio doesn't possess. Gui resorts to extracting a confession from Remigio by the threat of torture, and clearly plans to take care of William for good.

When another monk succumbs like the others, William and Adso ascend the forbidden library, and come face to face with the Venerable Jorge, the most ancient denizen of the abbey, with the book, which describes comedy and how it may be used to teach. Believing laughter and jocularity to be instruments of the Devil, Jorge has poisoned the pages to stop the spread of what he considers dangerous ideas: those reading it would ingest the poison as they licked their fingers to aid in turning pages. Confronted, Jorge throws over a candle, starting a blaze that quickly engulfs the library. William insists that Adso flee, as he manages to collect an inadequate armload of invaluable books to save; the volume of Poetics, Jorge, and the rest of the library are lost.

Meanwhile, Salvatore and Remigio have been burned at the stake. The girl has been slated for the same fate but local peasants take advantage of the chaos of the library fire to free her and turn on Gui. Gui attempts to flee but they throw his wagon off a cliff, to his death. William and Adso later take their leave of the Abbey. On the road, Adso is stopped by the girl, silently appealing for him to stay with her, but Adso continues on with William. In his closing narration, a much older Adso reflects that he never regretted his decision, and that the girl was the only earthly love of his life, yet he never learned her name.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Rocca Calascio in Abruzzo: a location of the film
Castel del Monte, Apulia, set of the library of the abbey

Director Jean-Jacques Annaud once told Umberto Eco that he was convinced the book was written for only one person to direct, that is to say himself. He felt personally intrigued by the project, among other things because of a lifelong fascination with medieval churches and a great familiarity with Latin and Greek.[2]

Annaud spent four years preparing the film, traveling throughout the United States and Europe, searching for the perfect multiethnic cast with interesting and distinctive faces. He resisted suggestions to cast Sean Connery for the part of William because he felt that the character, who was already an amalgam of Sherlock Holmes and William of Occam, would become too overwhelming with "007" added.[2] Later, after Annaud failed to find another actor he liked for the part, he was won over by Connery's reading, but Eco was dismayed by the casting choice and Columbia Pictures pulled out, as Connery's career was then in a slump.[2] Christian Slater was cast through a large-scale audition of teenage boys.[2] For the wordless scene in which the Girl seduces Adso, Annaud allowed Valentina Vargas to lead the scene without his direction. Annaud did not explain to Slater what she would be doing in order to elicit a more authentic performance from the actors.[2]

The exterior and some of the interiors of the monastery seen in the film were constructed as a replica on a hilltop outside Rome, and ended up being the biggest exterior set built in Europe since Cleopatra. Many of the interiors were shot at Eberbach Abbey, Germany. Most props, including period illuminated manuscripts, were produced specifically for the film.[2]

Reception[edit]

The film did poorly at the box office in the United States, playing at only 176 theatres and grossing only $7.2 million in return on a $17 million budget.[3] However, it was popular in many parts of Europe and had a worldwide gross of over $77 million. It received generally positive reviews from American and Italian critics, with review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 76% approval rating.[4]

Awards[edit]

  • The film was awarded the César for best foreign film.
  • The film was awarded two BAFTAs. Sean Connery for best actor, and Hasso von Hugo won Best Make Up Artist.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p260
  2. ^ a b c d e f DVD commentary by Jean-Jacques Annaud
  3. ^ Box Office Mojo entry
  4. ^ Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]