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Movie Review: The DaVinci Code

June 20, 2006

On Father’s Day my youngest Son (now 21 years old) and I went to see the DaVinci Code.  Having seen quite a lot of negative press about the movie, I was prepared for mediocrity.

The movie absolutely kicked ass.  I was surprised by the suspense, the fast pace, the sense of mystery, and the cold horror of the bad guys and their agents (many of whom were good people with good intentions).  I was very pleased that they didn’t derail the story with some implausable romance between Hanks’ and Tautou’s characters.  There were a number of clever escapes.  The French actor who played the police investigator is not widely known in the US, but I loved him in Les Visiteurs.

I won’t bother rehashing the storyline as you surely know it by now, but I thought it was a great suspense thriller; a genre that I do not normally enjoy.  In retrospect, this is hardly a surprise, since the movie is based on a best-selling novel, stuffed with top actors, and is directed by one of the best in the business, Ron Howard.  So why did it receive so much negative press?

The answer was in the movie itself: “The mind sees what it wants to see”.  To many viewers, the movie is blasphemous, an attack on their most deeply held beliefs.  It’s pretty hard to pull “great story” through that filter. 

Since I am not troubled by the notion of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as lovers or spouses, and the Catholic church pretty much strikes me as a gigantic money changer in the temple, I felt no obstruction to just enjoying the story and how it was presented.

The social context of the story is another matter. 

Suppose you were an author with a yen for history, and you wanted to debunk the Catholic church.  You could write a boring historical book, with a lot of documentation, didactically exposing the roots of the institution and making a case for apostasy.  Or, you could write a work of fiction.  Sprinkle in some obvious historical inaccuracies and say; “Hey, it’s a work of fiction; whaddya want from me?”  Make the work compelling and let one of your almost-sympathetic fictional characters do the heavy polemical lifting.  Not saying that was Dan Brown’s motive, but it’s a possible scenario.

Now suppose you’re an ancient church (not a person, like Dan Brown, but an institution comprised of many powerful individuals, a vast hierarchy led by one person).  You could systematically debunk the historical inaccuracies of the book and movie, and they’re doing that.  But it won’t help, because it’s already labelled fiction.  In the end, as Tom Hanks told Audrey Tautou, “What matters is what you believe” and belief is very much a matter of affection.  A good story beats dry facts every time, and the production values of The DaVinci Code are right up there.

The church can also stage boycotts (and look lame) or try to get the book/movie banned (and look even lamer).  It’s a no-win situation for the Catholic church, and the best they can do is to give the movie bad reviews through various channels, and hope a lot of people forget to rent it when it comes out on video.

Will the movie shake anyone’s faith?  Sure. If enough people see it, a few will walk out of the theatre saying; “Hey… yeah!  Why didn’t I ever see that before?!”  But the church shouldn’t worry, because a lot of people say the same thing after walking out of church services.  Even after walking out of a theatre and saying it.

Oh, and one more thing:  Audrey Tautou, if you are reading this… have you ever considered the advantages of romance with a middle-aged American blogger?  Think about it.  :coolsmile:

Categories: Movies, Reviews
  1. June 20, 2006 at 11:38 | #1

    You almost tempted me to create a new user called “Audrey T”  :-P
    Well, I must say DOF your review is a breath of fresh air.  The only reviews, for the most part, that I have seen are negative ones, or ones where they don’t try to come off too negative, because the reviewer liked it, but due to faith can’t admit it.

  2. June 20, 2006 at 12:03 | #2

    I’m so glad to see someone else admit to liking it!  The chemistry between the main characters didn’t work for me, but that’s a small thing.  I loved the adventure of it.  You’re right that it’s good suspense.  And to think that not a single thing got blown up.

    Is the public at large so numbed out by infotainment that they can’t see the difference between fiction and non anymore?  What a sorry state of affairs.

  3. June 20, 2006 at 21:08 | #3

    Sorry, man.  Audrey and I will be otherwise engaged for quite some time…

  4. June 20, 2006 at 21:16 | #4

    WD, you are so behind the curve.  I saw her first, on Amelie

    (Or we could entertain the possibility that she probably has romantic companionship and that neither you or I have a chance… naah!)

  5. June 20, 2006 at 22:19 | #5

    I saw Amelie before you did!

  6. zilch
    June 21, 2006 at 02:33 | #6

    I bet I saw Amelie before either of you, in French with German subtitles, no less.  I never thought seeing a woman stick her hand in a barrel of dried beans could be so erotic.  Even so, I don’t think I’ll go see The DaVinci Code.

  7. June 21, 2006 at 04:13 | #7

    I bet I saw Amelie before either of you

    Damn.  Though I saw it in French with English subtitles.

    *Sigh…*  So then!  (moving on) Anyone have thoughts about the movie, or the protests about it?

  8. June 21, 2006 at 07:51 | #8

    Only read the book and loved it.  Can’t comment on the film but it did my heart good to see that someone liked it.  I may get a chance to see it yet.

  9. June 21, 2006 at 08:52 | #9

    I hope to see it soon, the book was great I guess some people haven’t figured our the difference between fiction and non-fiction. The way I look at it is that if a book or a movie can shake your faith, your didn’t have much to begin with.

  10. June 21, 2006 at 20:18 | #10

    I still believe I was first … in French with NO subtitles.

    As to the movie.  I am glad for DOF’s review; I had a sense that a Ron Howard movie couldn’t be all that bad, though I did see some mildly negative review from reviewers I trust.

    In any event I am going to go see it.  I am one of the few who did NOT care for the book that much.  It wasn’t bad, but all the hype over it was not justified, IMO.  I didn’t find it all that well written, thought it was somewhat predictable. 

    So why do I want to go see the film?  Well, first there is the direction and cast.  I am guessing the screenplay is at least as good as the book, that Howard has done a decent job … and Audrey.

    Second, and probably most important to me, I will go for the Louvre, Paris, Bois de Boulogne … the setting and the cinematography.

  11. June 26, 2006 at 10:55 | #11

    My mom, a devout Catholic (and yet with an amazingly open mind) was willing to (a) read the book, and (b) enjoy it.  She disagreed with its theology, obviously, but she thought it was interesting.

    Me, I’m being a reverse snob—the book is *soooo* popular, and the movie *soooo* controversial, I’m taking pride in saying I’ve neither read nor watched.

  12. June 26, 2006 at 22:09 | #12

    A Reverse Snob—I believe I like that title and also will claim it.
    Except I am thinking of watching the movie, starring Tom Hanks, doncha know.

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