Movie Review: The DaVinci Code
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: