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

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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…show more content…
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 producing an accurate image of medieval life in The Name of the Rose. In a monastery, people would come from different regions to live. To show that diversity Annaud did an impressive job finding actors to play the distinctive role of each monk. Annaud claims that he specifically chose those actors for the representation of the realness that the emotional
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