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An Illustration of Monastic Life in the 14th Century: Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Name of the Rose

Jean-Jacques Annaud, The Name of the Rose historical fiction murder mystery illustrates monastic life in the 14th century. This medieval film takes place in a remote Benedictine abbey in Northern Italy. Annaud is historically successful in recounting monastic life during the Middle Ages. The enriching backdrop of this film presents the culture of monastic life. The setting is beautifully examined and replicated to show the distinct and complicated architecture of the times. The characterization of the monks is distinct in their appearance common to medieval times. As well, through the plot and dialogue, the implication of religious, social and political aspects of monastic life is delivered. The combination of these three details successfully pull together in picture a historical homage to monastic live during the Middle Ages.

This film does an excellent job setting a backdrop to highlight the culture of monastic life. Specifically through architecture, Annaud was able to display the complexity of design, the importance of the scriptoria and the importance of the cloister. In his quest for authenticity, Annaud in his DVD commentary on The Name of the Rose described how an actual medieval dormitory was used and converted into the scriptorium for the film. As the film begins, you see William and Adso approaching the Abbey. Professor Russell in his lecture on Medieval to Renaissance Architecture describes the structural significance of the thick horizontal lines characteristic to this period is immediately evident. In the nature of Romanesque style, particularly in France, massive walls and piers supported the heavy stone vaults or what can be considered rounded arches. Doors and windows were usually capped by these ...

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...significance of the growing conflict between the age of faith and reason to the conflict between a Church and the division of the view of wealth. The Name of the Rose shows how conflicted religious and social change was taking place in the Middle Ages.

Jean Jacques Annaud has created in film a remarkable visual account of monastic life in the Middle Ages. The amount of time in research and detail given from the historical aspects of the story, to the detail given to the characters appearance to the intrinsic detail given to the architecture of the film, Annaud has presented a modern day audience with a by and large accurate representation of monastic life in the Middle Ages. Annaud says, he wanted the audience to “feel the Middle Ages instead of see it” when they watch the film. His commitment and dedication to that authenticity to the facts is evident.

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