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...stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus...,
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This review is from: The Name of the Rose (DVD)
Viewers may arrive to Jean-Jacques Annaud's film from different directions, and, consequently, have various opinions. For those who Umberto Eco's book was so good that they couldn't get enough of it, Annaud may be a little disappointing--it may be argued indeed that the film conceded too much to the movie-goer's taste and deviated from the book. Let's save this polemic for other fora...
For those viewers who like at least one of the following: (1) a good 'whodunnit' movie; (2) a credible transposition of the medieval church environment (i.e. Western European / Catholic) in film; (3) an intriguingly good film that captivates an open mind, regardless of educated props and such, this film is indeed an event. To the first point, suffice it to say this film keeps the plot the same as in the book--and a lot has been written about the latter. In support of the other points, I should say Annaud's film is an audio-visual delight that strives for authenticity and manages to achieve it quite well. The monastic environment where everything takes place is elaborately recreated with means such as the wonderful chorals performed by the actors themselves, medieval-styled clothing (make and fabric), lighting, replicas of medieval books, and so much more. Plenty of food for imagination!
There is one exception one may take from the approach in which the film's author decided to cast the characters. Despite their having distinct physiognomies, one may say, they are distinctively ugly. A matter of taste or maybe commerce? The two overlooked (indirect) advantages of such casting are well worth mentioning. Most actors were far away from mainstream, and they speak in an English accented by their own tongues. What a suggestive allusion to an environment in which Latin was spoken with accents!
The added benefit of this DVD, relative to the tape versions, comes with the inclusion of an interview with the director and details about how the film was made. One's appreciation of this film can only increase upon learning the details that went into making the film. I found only one aspect lacking: the quality of the digital image shows the film's date by missing digital remastering. Most probably, the producer of this version was tentative about its success--I hope they will reconsider and put more resources into it. Given its list-price, this DVD is well worth the money though!
...the rose of yesterday remains [only] through its name...