When a man of faith does not give up critical thinking

Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud - 1986 - Italy, Germany, France - 131 min

The Name of the Rose

2024 March 26 | by Arduino Mancini Asking questions - Critical thinking - Cryme and Thriller - Negotiation

The screenplay of the film The Name of the Rose is freely based on the novel of the same name by Umberto Eco, who had agreed to leave his name in the credits: anyone seeing the film trying to find timely references to the original work would be disappointed.

Yet let us come to the story.

The film is set in a Benedictine abbey in northern Italy, where dark murders were taking place in 1327: earthly hands or the intervention of the antichrist, who was rumoured to be circulating freely in the religious mansion?

At an important conference, at which Franciscans, Dominicans, and papal delegates were to meet to resolve complex religious issues, William of Baskerville, a somewhat unusual Franciscan, arrived at the abbey.

William was a former inquisitor and theologian fascinated by knowledge, culture, and the power that philosophical inquiry could confer on a person capable of conducting it methodically.

Concerned about the situation and terrified by the idea that the Holy Inquisition might intervene and put an end to the murders by summary trials, the abbot entrusted the erudite William of Baskerville with the task of investigating and discovering the reason for the murders. The friar, aided by the young novice Adso of Melk who accompanied him, began to investigate in a difficult and distrustful environment, soon making him realize that the origin of the deaths was to be found among the friars who lived in the abbey.

I stop with the plot here, because I do not want to reveal details that might compromise your enjoyment in following the exciting investigation.

Let’s look at the trailer now, then we will see together which aspects I found most appealing.



How to watch the film

The most interesting aspect is the mental attitude William of Baskerville holds in his investigations and philosophical inquiry.

Although he is a man of faith, he does not at any time give up being guided by facts and reason, always looking for an earthly explanation to the events, avoiding imagining divine intervention where there is most likely only man’s; that is why in the film we see William facing the investigation by analyzing all possible options, discarding the weaker ones to adopt as the most viable the one that more than the others appears to be supported by critical thinking.

The character of the Franciscan friar who is all culture and reason is opposed in the film to the figure of Bernard Guy, a cleric of the Holy Inquisition who takes advantage of God’s silence to make him say what he wants, acting as his interpreter and torturing people to push them to confess even what they have not committed.

The film also gives us an interesting insight into the effects that isolation can generate in people, prompting them in behaviours that have very little religious: indifference to people around them living in hardship, seeking sexual favours in exchange for food, blind obedience aimed at protecting privilege and personal safety, and extreme willingness to dismiss the idea to regard laughter as a tool of the devil.

Finally, love, the one experienced in the space of a few hours by young Adso, too brief to be kept distinct from the intense passion that had involved him and the young girl seeking food in the abbey, too intense not to leave in the novice a regret that would never leave him again, even at the end of his earthly journey: that of dying without knowing the name of the only woman in his life.

The name of the rose.


Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, Valentina Vargas, Elya Baskin, Fëdor Fëdorovič Šaljapin, William Hickey

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