5.18.2006

My Thumbnail Review

Saw the movie tonight with Mike Gunn and my wife, Jenn. We worked on The Da Vinci Code Adventure together, and wanted to see the movie together too. Boy, were we in for a bit of a surprise.

Earlier today, MSNBC carried an AP story which reported that Ron Howard's movie "subtly softens" the material of Dan Brown's book. The Associated Press couldn't have it more wrong.

Yes, Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon does find some new dialogue in his mouth courtesy of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, words that at least play devil's advocate with Ian McKellen's Leigh Teabing. But in the end, the cinematic Langdon becomes much more of a true believer than does his literary counterpart.

Three major innovations introduced by Howard's movie:

First, his film portrays Opus Dei and the "shadow council" of the Vatican as really being in cahoots, really conspiring to kill people in the name of God, really trying to supress intellectual inquiry, really turning its back on truth and righteousness. In short, Ron Howard turns the Catholic Church into a genuine villain. Shameful.

Second, the movie further fabricates ancient history, making the charge that history is unclear whether the Roman Empire or the Christians were the first agressors. Please!

Third, and most importantly, the film invests significant energy in validating the Magdalene myth. While in Brown's book Marie Chauvel basically leaves the existence of the Sangreal documents and Magdalene's bones to the world's imagination, Howard has Langdon and Neveu discover plenty of material evidence to back up the claim.

Where's the mystery that feeds the soul? Where's the adventure? You'll have to find it in the book, I'm afraid. There's no codebreaking here, just polemic.

And in the end, Brown's book, whatever its faults or strengths, worked far better as a book than Howard's film works as a movie. The packed house I saw the movie with—a completely partisan crowd that didn't have to pay a dime to get in—was underwhelmed. They didn't giggle and hoot the way the crowd at Cannes did, but they were hardly enthusiastic.

I would not be surprised to see this film crash and burn; but then, I said the same thing about the Narnia film, too. So what the heck do I know?

14 Comments:

D Crawford said...

The controversy over this movie kills me, especially from international sources. I read the book, it was a terrific mystery/drama. It did not, however, change my life, lessen my faith, or cause any life shatter turmoil within me. Good grief people, it's a book (might be a good movie) with some facts thrown in. Get a grip. This wasn't written by the church or the government, it's a fictional book. Is the world filled with weak minded people that are weak of faith. Find something else to worry about, there is plenty to find

08:38  
rv2ocean said...

The sad thing is that a friend of mine who read the book has turned away from his Christian faith and is in turmoil about what is truth. Unfortunately, it seems easier for people to believe lies than the truth. I don't know if I will ever see another Ron Howard or Tom Hanks movie again as this movie has left me with such a feeling of nausea that I feel I have somehow opened a pandora's box, or how Eve must have felt after she ate the apple, it was wrong. How many others will be led astray by the works of these men that I used to think so much of. I really felt ill after viewing the movie.

03:05  
Anonymous said...

DVC is Fiction
what do you think of the facts below

05:14  
Greg Wright said...

I think I'll delete them... In fact, I have. I invite comments here, not articles. If you'd like to link to your own blog, that's fine -- but this is not YOUR blog.

To RV -- I really feel bad about your friend's loss of faith; but I rather imagine that if DVC hadn't come along, something else would have been the catalyst. Plenty of people read TDC without losing their faith, and some have even come to faith as a result, believe it or not. Dan Brown's fiction is neither a savior nor a bogey-man. But for what it's worth, the movie kind of made me feel ill, too.

07:21  
Anonymous said...

yes. the movie is devilish in the way it makes people feeling sick and ill. I think i'll start a jihad against Brown, Hanks and Howard. And when I have more time, I'll go for people like d crawford next.

23:52  
notebookwriter said...

Very thoughtful review of the film. I think that one of the reasons that there's no codebreaking in the film is because of how many facts it takes to communicate what the code actually is that is being broken. It's cliche to say that the book is better than the movie, but it's true, almost always. The problem with this movie is, I think, you need to read the book in order to appreciate it.

20:04  
Greg Wright said...

Thanks, nbwriter! You're right, the codebreaking would be tough to do in a movie; but it's been done effectively in other films, so why not at least try, especially since that was one of the key successes of the book?

The answer... Because they had better axes to grind, I think, and selected them based on the complaints of the critics. There was a controversy to feed!

20:10  
Anonymous said...

I note the reaction of the christians with great interest. the talk of faith, and people being disturbed at some one accusing them is of great interest, for , far too long its been the other religions that have been at the recieving end of the western worlds' views (particularly of the church/ catholics) of other religion. utter disregard, some times contempt , lack of clarity in thinking, lack of sensitivity towards other religion. and when it comes to thier own, the rection is quite overwhelming! people fume, and fret, all sorts of accusations , etc. well, what happened to free thinking, liberty, or ideals that have been so long taught to the people of other faiths ?

00:34  
Anonymous said...

Saying it like it is.....

S: With all the talk about the Da Vinci Code movie, is it another attempt to divert attention from something sinister?

MATTHEW: We see it as the opposite-the sinister ones would like to divert attention from the movie. In the timing of the universe, the
moment is right for this story, although presented as fiction, to
reach the millions of soul searchers for whom the Catholic Church's
archaic rules have worn thin and allegations and lawsuits against
abusive priests keep growing. The darkness within the papal
hierarchy, the most deeply entrenched on the planet, will be the mostshocking revelation to your world.

Again I tell you, the greatest challenge to light workers will be the
reactions of the religiously devout who will defend their unwavering
belief in the dogma they have been taught. Your history shows that
styles of political rule rise and fall, philosophies come and go, and
science unanimously agreed upon gives way to new theories; but
religion is God's or Allah's or Yahweh's or some deity's sacred orders
and the immutable foundation of many millions' faith, and therein lies
the challenge.

S: Matthew, several readers have asked for guidance in "re-educating"
whoever is willing to listen.

MATTHEW: Many among you chose as one of your lifetime missions the
enlightenment of those whose lives will be shattered when the truth
about the dark origins of all religious dogmas is revealed, thus you
are innately prepared for this tremendously important service.
Classes to assist you will be available, but for insight in this
moment, it will be most helpful for you and for those who are at all
receptive if you can perceive the truthful disclosures as they do.
Beyond showing compassion for their extreme distress and patience with
their resistance, the wisest approach is to listen to how deeply the
revelations affected them-their feelings of betrayal are both valid
and strong. Some of you will be addressing large audiences and others
will be helping on a one-to-one basis; many of you who are pondering a
meaningful purpose in your life soon will learn this is one such
purpose. It won't be necessary to try to persuade anyone to believe
as you do, and arguing about what is truth and what is lies isn't part
of your service either. Not all of the religious devout will be able
to see the light of the truth. Many will be hostile, and some will
resort to violence to protect the "righteousness" of their beliefs and
self-assumed missionary roles; others will be deeply depressed and
founder in confusion. It is likely that at some point light workers
will encounter ones with those varied reactions, but again, you are
innately prepared for this phase of Earth's transition.

14:38  
Anonymous said...

All this whole Da Vinci code crap is about a bunch a french royals who wanted to dupe the people of france into believing that they (the royals) were genetically related to Jesus. This was done so that they could claim the God given right to rule over the "people" because they were genetically related to "God Incarnate", ie Jesus of Nazareth. I won't waste a cent on the movie or the book.

17:27  
chuck said...

Any book or any movie that gets people to think through the dogma that has been accepted as "truth" is worthwhile.

What does the Catholic Church have to fear? Isn't its history worth scrutiny?

Perhaps this book, and perhaps this movie will move people to inquire and start asking questions.

Surely the truth shouldn't be something we fear.

18:45  
Anonymous said...

agreed....shouldnt people be okay with the fact that just sometimes things arent what they seem? the novel (keep in mind it was a NOVEL, not a manuscript or document) and the movie made me have some questions as to whether or not what i have been told is really in fact real or not...but that is what makes the world go around...ahh yes, conspiracy theories.

in any case, i think people should stop looking into this so much. i mean its just another form of entertainment. and its a movie, not a documentary. people need to shut up and accept it

03:12  
Admin said...

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People can express interest in publishing digitally by the link at da vinci code

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10:55  
Anonymous said...

I think some people take a film like this way too much to heart. I agree with the person who said I note the reaction of the christians with great interest. the talk of faith, and people being disturbed at some one accusing them is of great interest, for , far too long its been the other religions that have been at the recieving end of the western worlds' views (particularly of the church/ catholics) of other religion. utter disregard, some times contempt , lack of clarity in thinking, lack of sensitivity towards other religion. and when it comes to thier own, the rection is quite overwhelming! people fume, and fret, all sorts of accusations , etc. well, what happened to free thinking, liberty, or ideals that have been so long taught to the people of other faiths ?

Its funny seeing how some people are so hurt by this. Its a film. If you look - there are books concerning every possible view on each religion there ever was etc.
Get over yourself.

11:09  

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