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A couple of weeks back I was supposed to go see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the site; alas I got ill and I was forced to stay home. So another AITH-er tapped that film and instead I wound up bed ridden yearning for an old school flick. So I chose a re-watch of the 1986 thriller/murder/mystery THE NAME OF THE ROSE (WATCH IT HERE) starring the great Sean Connery and I wasn’t disappointed. In hindsight, thank Crom I got sick! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies didn’t talk to me much in the first place, but giving this one another whirl sure did!
Last time I had seen THE NAME OF THE ROSE (based on Umberto Eco's 1980 bestselling novel of the same name) at a young age upon its initial home release. I always remembered digging it but had forgotten the bulk of its story, hence in a way, this was like watching it for the first time again. Set amidst an isolated monetary, THE NAME OF THE ROSE pulled me in right away by way of its grounded and uber realistic portrayal of the middle ages. Every base was covered here: the costumes, the impressive monestary (a mix of a real monastery location and a convincing set), shit even the actors were dirtied up and made to look fairly repugnant to echo the lack of cleanliness of the time. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud definitely capitalized on his dire setting/time period; gunning out a bleak, suspensful and fairly claustrophobic film. A morbid visual delight!
Story wise; for me it’s hard to go wrong with Sean Connery in anything; but it’s REALLY hard to go wrong with Sean Connery as a “Sherlock Holmes” like priest trying to solve murders while teaching his young apprentice a thing or two about a thing or two. I was involved in this one’s chain of events throughout, there was rarely a dull moment and every plot turn had me by the hacksy sack and then some! The tug of war within the religious order was also fascinating to witness with one side wanting to live like wealthy ogres and the other trying to stay true to teachings of Christ and living in a humble (i.e. broke ass) fashion. The film also acted as a stern reminder of just how much power the Church used to have (right down to being the only ones allowed to own books) and much like anything else that is put in man’s hands – how said Church used their power, named dropped “heretic” and went “inquisition happy” for their own selfish gain. So yeah personally, on top of a brilliant murder/mystery the film also acted as a time capsule to darker times.
Add to all that incredible set design (that library labyrinth was a sight to behold), Ron Pearlman & F. Murray Abraham stealing the movie when onscreen, an ominous score by the talented (and now late) James Horner and some moments of organic humor and you get a solid watch. On the flip side, some of the photography was simply way too dark for its own good i.e. I couldn’t see anything. And there was one scene in particular (a chase) that made no sense in terms of how they edited it. I actually did a double take in the sense of “did I just see that”? Moreover the script was somewhat muddled and I got to say it although I understood the WHO and the WHY behind it all and why they went that way, maybe it worked in the book, but I can’t say the reveals made for gripping cinema. But at the end of the day it wasn’t where I went with this one that mattered but how I got there. And when it came to the ride THE NAME OF THE ROSE oh so delivered!