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Name of the Rose (REGION 1) (NTSC)
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Product Information

Media: DVD
ISBN/ASIN : B0001Z37IG
Manufacturer : Warner Home Video
Release data : 06 July, 2004

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    1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star    Moody Medieval Whodunnit

    Bit of an oddity, this filmed version of the 14th Century whodunnit written by Umberto Eco (Travels In Hyper-reality, Foucault's Pendulum, The Island Of The Day Before), University of Bologna Professor of Semiotics (a disputed 'scientific branch of philosophy' first posited by Ferdinand de Saussure). A pan-European co-production, "Curious, remote, randomly developed and edited, [...] can never have been an obvious candidate for box-office success: yet it did pretty well."

    Both moody and gloomy (there is very little daylight throughout the film), it is more or less narrated by a mature Adzo of Melk, who as a young Franciscan noviciate (Christian Slater) accompanies John of Baskerville (Sean Connery; Oscar-nominated for Best Actor) to an isolated Benedictine abbey high in the bleak northern Italian Appennino mountains to engage, along with delegates from other monastic Orders, in discourse upon "whether or not Christ owned his own clothes." [Believe it or not, such scholastic debate was not uncommon at the time. A century later, upon the onset of the Renaissance, another profound debate occurred when artists considered whether or not Adam should be depicted with a navel ... or not ...].

    Unfortunately, whilst there, the second in a spate of mysterious - and 'prophesized,' of course - deaths occurs, prompting the Benedictine Father Abbot (the ever soft-spoken Michael Lonsdale) to ask John of Baskerville to - discreetely, of course - apply his known gift of deductive suppositioning to explain these deaths, before the feared Inquisitor Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham) arrives and starts burning people. Applying Socratic reason and dropping witticisms and bon mots to his young charge, John of Baskerville (is the Doylean name significant, one wonders!) pokes around the incredible squalour of every-day monastic life (the abbey makes the Bates Motel seem idyllic), in the face of mounting scepticism (Gui produces a simple local girl with a black cat - 'clear proof' surely of satanic possession, demonic skulduggery and Whore of Babylon guilt!), until the mystery is unravelled.

    NOTE: unregarded by general opinion, the Papal Inquisition, granted by Pope Gregorius IX in 1231 to 'inquisitors' drawn from the Dominican and Franciscan Orders, existed long before both the better-known Spanish Inquisition [1479] and the fanatical Societá de Jesu, the Society of Jesus (or Jesuit Order) [1534-40], came into being. It authorized the auto da fé ('act of faith') burnings at the stake usually associated with the Spanish Inquisition.


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