August 04, 2013

Classic Movie: The Name of the Rose

The Name of the Rose is a perfect example of what a great movie should be. It should take you to places you've never been before and it should enlighten you in some way while providing an intriguing story, excellent characterization and ... oh yes, it certainly helps if the director is able to pull off something unique that hits you in the core of your gut and makes you ponder about life and your place in the scheme of things.

That's a lot to ask, but it usually determines whether I'm going to savor the experience and repeat it regularly and The Name of the Rose fits the bill.

Sean Connery is still the best of all Bonds, especially in those first three Bond movies that were meaningful, but his performance as William of Baskerville is so perfectly executed, (spoiler warning) it almost takes your breath away when he steps out from the disaster of the abbey, smoke pouring from his robes, a look of triumph tempered with an overwhelming sense of relief at having preserved at least a small portion of the knowledge that had been so long repressed as the books fall from his loving grasp and plop down around him. It's all about the books and what they represents. This is one of my favorite scenes of all time among a couple of others from this movie.

The rest of the cast seem to fit their roles about as well as if they were really the people they're portraying. Even a young Christian Slater is perfectly hesitant, unsure and timid, but fearless in the end having lived through and survived the nastiness of the Inquisitors and matured rapidly in the process.

I enjoy movies that make me think, they are the ones that have lasting value. Sure, a screwball comedy or action flick is a nice escape from time to time, but this type of movie, with its historical background, fascinating cast of characters and an intriguing, unpredictable story does more to justify the pastime of sitting still and watching a moving picture.

I can understand why lots of people would have a difficult time with The Name of the Rose. Perhaps age, experience and whether you're a reader of books will determine how much you appreciate what's going on in this movie and why it's so powerful. It's not important to have read the book or not, having done both, it's a much easier ride watching the movie than reading the book. In this case, best to see the movie first and read the book afterward.

This a movie that has remained on my top ten favorite list for a long, long time and I pull it out regularly and watch it just to appreciate why it was made in the first place even though I'm sure that puts me in a relatively small group when compared to the audience for most movies.


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