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The Name of The Rose

In Danny Boyle's 1996 Trainspotting, Sean Connery acolyte Sick Boy notes that in Connery's career: "The Name of the Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory." He has a point: Shortly after 1986's Rose Connery appeared in 1987's The Untouchables, won an Oscar for it and regained his place as one of the world's great stars, but stopped trying. Between his time as James Bond and his re-found fame, something strange happened — Connery became a great actor, but during that time Connery struggled against his iconic image. For years after he left the franchise, he was too closely associated with Bond to get steady work (even Rose director admits reticence in hiring Connery for the film because of 007), and he often appeared in low-budget films that might very well have been beneath him (some of the betters ones are Zardoz and Time Bandits), simply to work. Though he was good as Bond and had some reliable performances elsewhere (1964's Marnie comes to mind), it was in this limbo where Connery had to stretch. Witness The Name of the Rose. Connery plays William of Baskerville, a monk known for the investigative skills that get him into trouble when they find reason and motive in murder where others find the work of the devil. Assisted by Adso von Miek (Christian Slater, in his first major role), he heads to an abbey in preparation for a religious conference but quickly becomes the investigator of a murder. A young man supposedly fell out of a locked tower window and some suspect the work of evil, but though Baskerville finds out what happened, shortly thereafter another monk is murdered, and then another. With the abbey known for its library, he suspects something may be going in the private annex, but is denied access — while those around Baskerville point to the abbey's looneys, notably the hunchback Salvatore (Hellboy Ron Perlman) and the ranting Ubertino da Casale (William Hickey). Yet Monks keep dying, and Baskerville's investigation hits a brick wall when Inquisitor Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham) shows up. There is no arguing with an Inquisitor, if one does (as Baskerville did once) one is tortured and usually burned at the stake. Based on the Umberto Eco novel of the same name, Jean Jacques Annaud's film is beautiful to look at, has a wonderful subtext (which was fleshed out in the book) about the role of money in the church, and moves well enough until the final act when everything is too quickly and somewhat confusingly wrapped up. The best reason to watch the film is Connery's nuanced and smart performance; he plays a scholarly man who's never enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh — as far from Bond as one could get. Warner presents The Name of the Rose in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and a newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Extras include a commentary by Annuad, a German "making-of" doc (43 min.), a photo gallery narrated by Annaud (18 min.), and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.

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