First, the book.
You know the type of quizzes such as ‘which animal are you most like’, ‘which celebrity are you’, ‘which Disney princess are you’?
I have a quiz question: what book are you?
I am The Name of the Rose.
I’ve read thousands and thousands of books, and I have hundreds of favourite ones. Yet, I love Umberto Eco’s first novel with incomparable fascination and devotion. To me, it is one of the finest books ever written. I’ve read it many times, perhaps once a year since the early 1980’s, always finding new layers and new depth. Falling in love over and over again.
Rich, taunting, intelligent… a complex study of human character, a linguistic essay, a philosophical tractate, a timeless story of struggle between reason and dogma, of political intrigues, of religious and secular powers and their abuse – all this and much more wrapped around a super-clever murder mystery.
Now, the movie.
No quiz would be able to answer the question about what movie I am. I’m certainly not The Name of the Rose, although I like it.
It’s unfair to compare movies with the books they are based on. When we read a book, we make our own ‘movie’ in our mind, focusing our inner cameras on particular details, imagining the characters, building an entire inner world based on someone else’s story. The writer gives us the equipment, and we assemble the final products. Books and readers have a much more intimate relationship than movies and their watchers.
When we watch the movie, we accept someone else’s vision, even if we don’t like it.
Having said that, Jean-Jacques Annaud made a fine movie simply because he didn’t try the impossible–to achieve the beauty of the book. I don’t miss to watch it any time I catch it on TV. The book and the movie are somewhat mingled in my mind. I don’t mind; to me this is the proof that the movie indeed has its place in this story.
Father William of Baskerville (such a subtle reference to The Hound of the Baskervilles and another great investigator, Sherlock Holmes!) assumed the features of Sean Connery. The physical description of Bernardo Gui in the novel can’t overlay the powerful imprint the brilliant F. Murray Abraham has left.
Speaking of F. Murray Abraham, he played–brilliantly, needless to say–one of the main characters in a movie that’s among my personal Top Ten. And because it’s about my favourite composer and it’s directed by one of my favourite directors, and it’s incredibly beautiful, I’m gonna say something about it soon.
Finally, the music.
When I think about The Name of the Rose, I hear Enigma’s “Sadeness”, a perfect blend of spiritual and sensual, flesh and spirit, Gregorian vocals and female voice.