Home > Drama >

The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose (1986)

September. 24,1986
| Drama Thriller Mystery

14th-century Franciscan monk William of Baskerville and his young novice arrive at a conference to find that several monks have been murdered under mysterious circumstances. To solve the crimes, William must rise up against the Church's authority and fight the shadowy conspiracy of monastery monks using only his intelligence – which is considerable.


Watch Trailer


Similar titles



Adapting a book of more than 600 pages to the big screen wasn't a easy job, even with the collaboration of 4 screenwriters under the supervision of the 'artsy' french director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, fresh from the critical success of his previous work, "Quest for Fire" ('81) and even the author, the Italian novelist Umberto Eco, knew that, but he gave the approval and after 4 years of preparations, the production starts filming a palimpsest of his 1980 historical murder mystery debut novel. "The Name of the Rose" is a well-crafted drama / mystery / 'whodunit' film, set in the Medieval Era and telling the story of a Franciscan Friar, William of Baskerville (Sean Connery), a wise middle-age man with great power of deduction and his young novice, Adso of Melk (Christian Slater) which arrive to a somber Benedictine Abbey in northern Italy, during the wintertime, to participate in a debate with Papal emissaries about the excess of wealth in the Church. The Abbey is covered in sorrow and fear because of the recent demise of a young attractive manuscript illuminator, in a deemed unnatural way, which prompted the Brothers to suspect that was the work of the Devil. The Abbot (Michael Lonsdale) asks William for help to solve the mystery and to calm the Abbey's population before his last resort of demanding the Holy Inquisition, led by the ruthless Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham), to find the guilty using their own sadistic methods...Eco's choice of naming his protagonist William of Baskerville was a clearly homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mystery novel, "The Hound of Baskervilles" featuring his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes and his inseparable & dearest partner and future chronicler, Doctor John Watson, here personified by the young Adso which also serves as the narrator, telling us the terrifying events which occurred in the ancient Abbey, many years later. The name William is also believed to be based on the English Franciscan Friar, William of Ockham, a Scholastic Philosopher, well known for his significant works on logic, physics and theology. He even created a methodological principle called "Occam's razor".Now, what more can be said about this sterling piece of art ? The direction is top notch as so are the high production values involved: the locations; the Art Direction, Set Decoration and Costume Design; the Makeup Department (where were the Oscar nominations ?), all together makes this movie experience looks and feels like we're in the Middle Age, it's probably one of the best films ever made depicting the life in the Dark Ages, the authenticity is astonishing !! The cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli is splendid, giving a visually eerie feeling and a realistic gloomy look at the secular Abbey, especially the sequences inside the labyrinthic library (amazingly designed in the Gothic architectural style by the Production Designer Dante Ferretti) that were masterfully shot. Last, but not the least, James Horner's haunting compositions embraces the viewer into the intricate mystery helping to establish the moody tone of the movie.The cast is superb, kudos to the casting director and Annaud himself for selecting some of the most unforgettable and distinctive faces ever put on-screen. Sean Connery was tailor made for this kind of role, playing the open-minded William of Baskerville who can see the light of reason in a time of blind faith. After almost a decade into oblivion appearing in lesser known films as the romantic lead, the then 55 years old (but looked a bit older) ex-James Bond, convinced Annaud that he can do justice to William of Baskerville and he did and with that career decision, Connery re-invented his screen persona in the mid to late 80's, becoming, with major success, the Mentor of the protagonist for the rest of his career ("Highlander", "The Presidio", "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", "Family Business" and so on...). Christian Slater at 16 years old, have here is breakthrough role as Adso of Melk, participating in a way graphic sex scene with the 22 years old actress Valentina Vargas, who shocked the censors in America and UK, but as a French / Italian / German co-production, this seemed more common, natural and harmless there. F. Murray Abraham, in his first film after he won the Academy Award for performing Salieri in "Amadeus" ('84), is always 'machiavellian' and 'over-the-top' playing the antagonist, and Bernardo Gui, the head of the Holy Inquisition, fits him like a glove. Michael Lonsdale, Volker Prechtel, William Hickey, Elya Baskin and Helmut Qualtinger are all outstanding in their supporting roles, but the then 81 years old Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. as the blind Venerable Jorge de Burgos and the great character actor and forever typecast in this kind of monstrous roles, Ron Perlman as the hunchback Salvatore, both stole the movie every time they're on-screen. Perlman was, criminally, snubbed from an Academy Award nomination, probably he gave the best supporting performance of 1986.The only complaint about this production is that the third act feels rushed to finish the movie and was edited in a way that breaks the unsettling pace established earlier, maybe with more half a hour the movie could have been even better and escalate to the top of the best 'whodunit' ever made.In short, what Ron Howard did, exactly 20 years later, adapting the similar themed puzzling mystery, "The Da Vinci Code" with a routine & by-the-numbers direction and collecting all the accolades, Annaud did it first and better, giving us a truly memorable film, a triumph in craftsmanship, misunderstood when it was released (Roger Ebert gave it a lacklustre review), but re-appreciated and re-evaluated in more recent times and occupying nowadays the podium of one of the best films that came out of the 80's decade. For fans of a great & thrilling detective story, out of the Hollywood's standards, who also makes the viewer think, this is a must-see film.Highly recommended !!


It was the most realistic movie I have watched about medieval times' church and its administrations. Make ups, costumes and the character choices were just right. The places, the castle the atmosphere can make you believe that there used to be cameras at that time. Other than that the gist was very clear and on the point. No explanation needed about that I am sure. And is also a bit too easy to catch that pro-viewers might not like the movie that much. BUT I really believe that there are plenty of people that has to see/understand and deduce things from this movie. For most of them this movie had to be easily perceivable. My favorite subject and my favorite era, definitely loved the movie. But only thing missing was it making me "woo" that's why it is not a 10/10.

Filipe Neto

This film is the cinematographic adaptation of Umberto Eco's homonymous novel, telling the story of a series of mysterious murders inside an isolated Benedictine abbey, in the middle of the Italian Alps during the Middle Ages. Its an excellent adaptation, as the most relevant content of the novel is passed on to the screen pleasantly and rigorously. As its a period film, its not uncommon to see some historically dubious details but, since the more obvious ones come from the original book, we cannot blame the film crew. Moreover, I didn't see any situation so obvious that it took value to the film, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Sean Connery and Christian Slater are the central actors in the plot, in the role of two Franciscan friars sent to the abbey for a meeting with a papal delegation. They will try to solve the deaths of the monks, their hosts, before the arrival of the delegates. The two actors were at their best and the same can be said of Michael Lonsdale (the abbot), Feodor Chaliapin Jr. (the blind Brother Jorge) and F. Murray Abraham (the inquisitor Bernardo Gui), who shone in the secondary roles. The film makes a real effort of realism: the locations were handpicked, the scenarios faithfully reconstruct the abbey described by Eco, the costumes, the choice of the ugliest extras, even the black ink bath given to the pigs, everything was thought to recreate the medieval environment, which is truly one of the great advantages of the film. Some of the scenes are worthy of anthology, such as the scenes in the labyrinth or the scene in which Slater is seduced by a young peasant (Chilean actress Valentina Vargas). This film is, definitely, a good example of what must be a period film.

Adam Peters

(58%) A strong, quality entry into the medieval period set movies, with more than a touch of exploitation fun added into the mix to spice things up a little. Sean Connery is on decent form as one of the very few likable characters (look out for the guy who looks a lot like uncle Fester), while a very young looking Christian Slater is fine as the apprentice monk. The best aspect by far though is the bleak, cold, and impressive looking setting which incorporates an actual Italian fortress, and some of the location work and cinematography is very good. Above all else this is a murder mystery, and because of the setting it makes for a quite unique and interesting watch. And despite the pace overall being a touch too slack, this is still a fine, slightly obscure watch.