Only flower sex: Sky’s eight-part series based on Umberto Eco’s novel is unfortunately slick and drawn out.
Blessed are the series creators who can fall back on an unfilmed novel Photo: 11 Marzo Film/Palomar/TMG/SKY
Blessed are the series creators who can draw on a veritable novel template. That’s the lesson to be learned, I suppose, from the anger of "Game of Thrones" fans and their online petition, now drawn by the millions, demanding that the final season be rewritten by "competent writers." It was apparently a capital mistake to simply overtake George R. R. Martin, who has been working on the templates since 1996, and continue without him until the bitter end for Daenerys Targaryen and the fans.
How does Martin feel about that? His silence will probably be decently compensated. Umberto Eco didn’t hide his criticism so much when Bernd Eichinger and Jean-Jacques Annaud reduced his 657-page debut novel "The Name of the Rose" for their two-hour film adaptation simply to its outer form of a medieval thriller à la Sherlock Holmes. "The Name of the Rose" was the 1980s bestseller of all, the postmodern novel par excellence, both a portrait of an era and a philosophical treatise.
They did a pretty good job of it, though, one still has to say again and again. If you now look at the new series adaptation on Sky in comparison. Resorting to a bestseller may be half the battle, see above – or the other current adaptation of a successful Italian novel ("Meine geniale Freundin," on MagentaTV). But to make another film of a bestseller that has already been filmed – successfully – is to make a remake. If you can’t do it better, you have to do it differently. As, for example, the (Sky) series "Das Boot" at least tried to do last year.
Well, author Andrea Porporati and director Giacomo Battiato – who were perhaps chosen because they were already involved in the 1980s street sweeper "Alone Against the Mafia"? – give it a remarkably half-hearted try. Yeah, okay, they’ve seen the bloody opening battlefield scene, "Game of Thrones." Yes, already, next to all the old, white – not just heterosexual – men in monk’s robes, they want to give the women’s roles a recognizable boost. The Amazon with the lightning bow had not existed in Eichinger/Annaud.
And the nameless beauty, who in the film so abruptly squatted on the novice and fucked him, rough and dirty as she was – now she’s so omnipresent and chunky and the sex with her is purest flower sex in the forest. While between Christian Slater and Damian Hardung in the role of the novice (respectively Dr. Watson) there is actually not the slightest difference. While Rupert Everett nuances the malevolence of Inquisitor Bernard Gui (aka Professor Moriarty) only minimally differently than F. Murray Abraham did in his day.
While John Turturro as William of Baskerville (or Sherlock Holmes) doesn’t cut a bad figure – but just doesn’t have the ironic charm of a Sean Connery, perfected in seven "Bond" films. Actually, Pierce Brosnan would have been the logical choice. In the end, it’s an achievement to make "The Name of the Rose" look like an only slightly stretched-out, only somewhat smoothed-out reenactment of its predecessor. And in the quadruple time, perhaps a tad more historical background, but not a whit more Eco to have accommodated.
"The Name of the Rose", eight episodes, Fridays at 8:15 p.m. on Sky Atlantic and on demand via Sky Ticket, Sky Go and Sky Q.
Blessed are the series creators, who can fall back on a veritable novel template – if it is still unfilmed. Eco himself has always preferred his second novel, "The Foucault Pendulum," to "The Name of the Rose," a kind of "Illuminati" for adults, as time-spanning as "The Cloud Atlas" … As yet unfilmed. Dear series creators!