The Name of the Rose

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I just finished watching this — not long after I finished the Umberto Eco book. I enjoyed both and I think that recapping all the differences between book and movie seems a little shallow. But I would like to talk about the endings. I enjoyed the ending for each one — along with all the murderous monastic shenanigans.  There’s spoilers below too, if you care about that sort of thing. 

In Eco’s book, the ending is extremely, utterly bleak. The peasant girl who becomes an object of affection for our young narrator Adso of Melk? taken away to be burned by the Inquisition as a witch. The attempt to rectify the poverty-loving Franciscans with the decadent mainstream Church? Shattered as they argue back and forth endlessly. The precious library, containing precious books? Burned up and destroyed completely, along with the entirety of the abbey. William of Baskerville? Killed by the plague sometime after the events in the book take place. All this despair and chaos follows William’s final revelation: that his attempts to solve the mystery were all a failure. He thought the killer was pursuing some rational plan — when it was all a bunch of coincidences and red herrings and he stumbled on the true culprit almost by chance. William realizes that it’s impossible to find any sense of order to events — and that feeling is compounded as the monks run around trying to stop the burning abbey and end up making everything worse. William seems realize that there is no order, no sense and no God. It subverts everything that he believes in. One of the last scenes in the book is Adso returned to the destroyed abbey and picking up scraps from the burned books, then realizing how he can’t possibly assemble random burned pages from random burned books into anything of meaning. It’s pretty grim stuff but I think The Name of the Rose wouldn’t be the same without it.

The movie doesn’t really go as far. It doesn’t exactly give you a happy ending — but the ending is happier. Even the nasty inquisitor Bernardo Gui meets a fitting end. Gui is a historical figure, so killing him in a fictional abbey does seem a little weird — but he’s minor so, I suppose it doesn’t matter that much. I don’t think Eco much cared for the changes, though. He apparently signed deals that would stop any more of his books from ever being made into movies. I’m a little kinder. I didn’t mind the slightly more hopeful — but still wistful and sad — ending.I also really loved the movie’s production design (which apparently is the work the set designer and cinematographer of Fellini!). You like Gothic, mist-shrouded abbeys, labyrinthine libraries and secret passages in skull-stuffed crypts, you really can’t go wrong here.

Oh and there’s apparently a board game?

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No clue as to whether you can play as the crazy hunchback monk, though….

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