Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: The Popsurfing Review

The Da Vinci Code -- *
World Premiere
Cannes Film Festival
Debussy Theatre

I've just seen the godless "Da Vinci Code" and you'd think the Devil would have made a more entertaining movie. As fellow Cannes-goer Mike D'Angelo put it, the book is such a phenomenon that the movie can't help but be a big hit. Everyone's either read the book or heard of it so everyone will see it. No one will like it -- not the people who read the book and certainly not the people who haven't read the book. But it will all happen too fast for word of mouth to have any effect. (No wonder they're opening it on 11,600 screens around the world.)

Here are my first notes: Badly done and very silly. People enjoy the novel because it's silly and a page-turner and they get to pretend they've learned reading James Michener. ("Did you know Hawaii...?") But the movie is confusing and flits by so quickly you're just lost. They don't even explain what the Fibonacci Sequence is. (That's the sequence where each number is the product of the two previous numbers -- hence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 and so on.) And obviously Ron Howard and Akiva were petrified by the idea of people standing around and talking. Never mind that the book includes a lot of fun talk (wild conspiracy theories, salacious historical tidbits, etc.). Never mind that the book is also a country-spanning adventure with multiple murders, an albino assassin who self-flagellates himself, guns, poison, narrow escapes and so on. Despite all of that, they panicked over the thought of Hanks delivering a lecture, so every time he makes any historical reference, we get a black and white flashback to that event. If Hanks mentions the Crusades, we get a glimpse of knights laying seige to castles, with blood flowing and swords flying. If he mentions the slaughter of the Templar Knights by the Pope, we see the blade go in. In fact, the movie is filled with unnecessary flashbacks. Did we really need to see the backstory of the albino assassin? (Mind you, Paul Bettany could bring a lot of new members to Opus Dei.) And I defy anyone who hasn't read the book to explain what the albino's flashbacks were about. If most viewers are gonna be puzzled, why include it? That goes doouble for the Vatican intrigue, which is poorly explained. No one who hasn't read the book (and that's about six billion minus 45 million) will have a clue as to the power sturggles going on. Finally, Cannes traditionally has a terrific sound system, but I wondered if my seat was a problem. I had a great deal of trouble understanding Audrey Tatou -- I had to keep checking the French subtitles and translate those BACK into English to keep on track. Obviously, American audiences won't have that option. And other people had the same complaint. At the jaw-dropping moment of revelation, the audience actually giggled. Sure, they're cynical godless journalists, but I'll bet the same thing happens for a general audience. it's one thing to read it in a book. It's quite another to hear it laid out so bluntly. Howard does everything to soften the book's religious comments. The godless Robert Langdon is even seen sort of kneeling in prayer at the last moment, which certainly goes against the tenor of the book. This is one of those movies -- like the last three Star wars films -- that everyone will see but no one will like.

SPOILER: And the Church just looks silly for complaining and warning people against it. For heaven's sake, didn't they read the book? The Church IS NOT THE BAD GUY. One renegade bishop doesn't besmirch the Church's name and in fact the Pope and the Cardinals are depicted repeatedly as genuinely religious men.


Philip Booth said...

I went to the advance screening last night.

I was underwhelmed, and several critics (including me) chuckled out loud at the biggest “revelations.”

Really, it was kind of dull and occasionally quite silly.

I posted my review on my site, Scribe Life.

Anonymous said...

I thought the book was awful. An OK/fun story but so poorly written. It was like reading a movie script - how could they mess that up!

Anonymous said...

There is a way to verify the truth...

Hello Surfers and all,

Yes, the DaVinci Code is a novel and its version of history is no better than that in the New Testament. In other words, neither is the literal truth, and that is a key point of the story. The primary sub-plot was about purposeful symbology being used to encode hidden meanings, just like the Bible and related texts.

Want to know why we can't let the Vatican succeed at telling us what to think about ancient history? There is a way to verify the truth and that is precisely what the Vatican doesn't want you to understand. If the Bible represented the literal truth and accurate history, there would be no need for faith in the assertions of deceptive and duplicitous clergy and their ilk.

It is undeniable the New Testament is framed by symbolism and allegory. The same is evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic texts, biblical apocrypha, and other related texts. All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!

It's amazing the Vatican still tries to insist the Gospels are literal truth. It is beyond obvious they are replete with ancient Hebrew symbology. Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in the Old Testament, Apocalypse, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other symbolic narratives and traditions.

Likewise, the following Washington Post article ( The Book of Bart) describes how many changes and embellishments were made to these texts over the centuries, unequivocally demonstrating they are not original, infallible, or truthful.

What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand truth and wisdom? It's no wonder the Vatican fears the truth more than anything else. Now comes justice, hot on its heels... (symbolism...)

Revelations from the Apocalypse

Here is Wisdom!!

Ed Sikov said...

Actually the last scene in the book has Langdon kneeling at what he discovers to be the central shrine.