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Who, in the name of God, is getting away with murder?

Although the film is set in an Italian abbey during the 14th Century, the film version of Umberto Eco’s novel, THE NAME OF THE ROSE ($20), is very much a Sherlock Holmes style mystery. In fact, the allusions to Sherlock Holmes are certainly within the story itself, with the central character of THE NAME OF THE ROSE being named William of Baskerville. Now, as someone who thoroughly enjoys Sherlock Holmes mysteries, it should come as no surprise that THE NAME OF THE ROSE is a personal favorite, especially since the movie is so well crafted and features an absolutely first rate cast of actors. Taking the lead in this mystery is Sean Connery as the intensely logical Franciscan monk William of Baskerville, who is traveling with his young novice, Adso of Melk (Christian Slater).

As the film opens, William and Adso arrive at an abbey in the north of Italy, where the elder monk is set to participate in a religious debate that will include members of his order, as well as representatives from the Vatican. Upon entering the grounds, William notices a fresh grave in the abbey cemetery and learns of the suspicious death of one of the younger monks. With some of the older monks given to religious hysteria, there is talk that "the devil" walks the corridors of the abbey, thus William begins an exercise in deductive reasoning to uncover how the young man really died. What follows is a deep and perplexing mystery involving a secret that is being hidden within the dark recesses of the abbey, one that leads to the deaths of several other monks… not to mention, bringing William face to face with his old nemesis- a sadistic inquisitor named Bernardo Gui (F. Murray Abraham). The cast of THE NAME OF THE ROSE also features Michael Lonsdale, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., William Hickey, Valentina Vargas and Ron Perlman.

Warner Home Video has made THE NAME OF THE ROSE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Like the previous DVD edition, THE NAME OF THE ROSE features a very good transfer of some rather difficult material. The 1080p presentation pulls every bit of detail out of Tonino Delli Colli’s purposely-diffuse cinematography. With its 14th century setting predating electric lighting, Colli seems to have gone out of his way to avoid the look of unnatural lighting sources; hence, THE NAME OF THE ROSE is a rather dark and moody motion picture. When natural lighting is at its best, the image appears relatively crisp and produces a good level of detail. Well-lit close-ups tend to be the most detailed looking shots in the movie, sometimes displaying impressive fine detail and texturing. Medium to long shot appear softer and more disuse. Colors tend to be rather subdued, which reflects the drabness of the abbey setting and the monk’s attire. Flesh tones appear accurate, while sequences featuring warm firelight produce an appealing glow. The blacks and whites are accurate, while contrast is fairly smooth. Shadow detail is less than what one would see in a new movie, owing to limited lighting and film stocks in use at the time. Still, this presentation pulls more detail out of the shadows that what was present on DVD. A noticeable grain structure is present throughout; sometimes appearing a bit heavy, but it gives the presentation a nice, film like quality.

THE NAME OF THE ROSE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that THE NAME OF THE ROSE originated in the Dolby Surround era, the soundtrack has been very nicely upgraded. Of course, the track does exhibit some sonic qualities that tie it to the era it was produced. With THE NAME OF THE ROSE being a talky drama set in a monastery during the fourteenth century, there are few opportunities for the outlying channels to show off. Still, the forward soundstage creates a broad sense of space and provides good channel separation. Ambient sounds and musical fill seem to be the biggest contributions of the surround channels, and they are well implemented. Thanks to the lossless encode, James Horner’s minimalist score is nicely enhanced having good fidelity and cleanly defined stereo image. The bass channel is solid, although the material doesn’t lend itself to ground shaking depths. Due to whispered tones and the accents of some of the actors, I did have to adjust the volume level up. Once I found the sweet spot, dialogue remained clean and very intelligible. A French Dolby Digital 2.0 channel, plus a Spanish monaural track have also been encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as, the supplements, which have been ported from the DVD release. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Jean-Jacques Annaud, who provides a detailed and truly excellent running audio commentary, which looks at the nuts and bolts of this period production, as well as covering some of the personalities involved. Produced in German, The Abbey Of Crime: Umberto Eco's Name Of The Rose is a vintage forty-three minute program that looks behind-the-scenes at the making of the film. Photo Video Journey With Jean-Jacques Annaud runs sixteen minutes and allows the director another opportunity to discuss various aspects of the production. A Theatrical Trailer closes out the supplements.

THE NAME OF THE ROSE is a personal favorite and a film that I am delighted to see released on Blu-ray. The Blu-ray presentation is a worthwhile upgrade that delivers superior visuals from challenging source material. Recommended.


The Name Of The Rose [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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