An Illustration Of Monastic Life In The 14th Century: Jean Jacques Annaud's The Name Of The Rose

1154 words - 5 pages

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 round arches. The small openings were decorated with mouldings, carvings and sculptures called poiters. The buildings had barrel vaults columns and windows and doors with rounded arches. The buildings were solid and heavy with small windows which made the insides very dimly lit. This lack of light is apparent in the film as a way to describe the general mindset and lifestyle of monastic life in the Middle Ages. Romanesque architecture is known for its large internal spaces. Annaud uses these Middle Age details in his construction of the set. As Professor Russell describes in the Medieval Culture lecture the different rooms of the monastery contained the cloister which connected the dormitory, refectory, scriptorium, kitchen, cellar, and herbal garden. The small windows, arched doorways and the non-human void of expressivity capitals and sculptures were all true to the times. Annaud constructed this Romanesque church set built specifically to shoot majority of the film. The attention and detail that he put into making sure that the backdrop provided a true and accurate account for how religious architecture was in the Middle Ages furthered the success of the film.
Characterization was immensely important in...

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