The name of the Rose - Der Name der Rose (1986)

The Name of the Rose was a critical flop in the US, and was also a box office flop in the US. It was, however, a smash hit in Europe, and most of the rest of the world, and garnered many awards in Europe. Why? It is a European sort of film. The pace is leisurely, the tone is dark, the locations perfect, and the story is complex, and is not spoon fed to the viewer.


Sean Connery stars as Brother William of Baskerville, a Franciscan who has come to a Benedictine monastery in Italy from a debate among Benedictines, Franciscans and Papal delegates as to whether the clergy should take vows of poverty or not. The Franciscans favor helping the poor, the rest believe in helping themselves. As the year is 1347 (75 years after the last[9th] Crusade), we are literally taken to the Dark Ages, and one of the darkest periods in Catholicism. The Inquisition is in full swing, and most books are kept in hiding by Monasteries because they conflict with Catholic doctrine. Connery, we later learn, has a history with the Grand Inquisitor, and is the  Sherlock Holmes of the religious set, being both brilliant, and more enlightened than his peers.

Connery's young charge has a sexual encounter with an attractive peasant girl, Valentina Vargas, who shows everything in very dark scenes.

When he arrives at the monastery (actually Kloster Erbach in Germany), there has been a mysterious death that is being attributed to the devil. He is called upon to solve the mystery.  With him is a young protégé, who is the narrator of the story, and plays Watson to his Sherlock. The mystery story line alone would sustain this film, and has plenty of twists and turns, but there are also many intertwined themes, mostly about excesses of the church, including homosexuality, surreptitious sex with a local peasant girl in exchange for food, murder, heresy, burning at the stake, hoarding knowledge, and economic oppression of the common folk.

The film is very moody, and is darkly lit, which is appropriate to the dark ages, but makes for difficult capping. The film also stars Christian Slater. There was not a flat performance anywhere in this film, the costumes were appropriate, the location perfect, and the art direction top notch. The film didn't just explain the Dark Ages, it took us there.

Buy the DVD:
Zone 1: North America     $11.22
Zone 2: Europe - English  £15.99
Zone 2: Europe - German  €14,99

The Prague Cemetry
The Vertigo
of Lists
The Name of
the Rose
The Island of
the Day Before
History of
The Mysterious
Flame of
Queen Loana

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