Tuesday, May 10, 2011
DA VINCI CODE, THE
(May 2006, U.S.)
I would not call myself an "avid" reader. At best, I'm at a moderate level. I generally have more time to read during the summer when I return to the beach. One thing I can tell you is that they don't make movies of the books I read because most of the books I read are ABOUT the movies. But every once in a while I succumb to a "blockbuster" novel that the whole world seems to be caught up in. In 1991, it was John Grisham's THE FIRM. In 1993, it was Robert James Waller's THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. And in 2004, it was Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE. This book was everywhere so how could I not finally sit down and read it? How could I not love it?
In my opinion, there are perhaps, three perspectives one can take when discussing Ron Howard's film version of THE DA VINCI CODE. The first would be from the perspective of one who firmly believes in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the New Testament. The second would be from someone with a general belief in God and religious traditions (like my wife). The third would come from someone like ME; a complete and total atheist who can, at best, discuss the film from the perspective of one who enjoys well crafted and intruiging thrillers. The intense religious "conspiracy theories", accusations and implications can only be taken with a grain of salt depending on what your personal beliefs are and how willing you may be to accept an alternate notion that would challange your faith in those beliefs. From my point of view, I can easily claim that such a concept that Jesus Christ was, aside from all of his religious teachings, STILL an ordinary man who loved the woman called Mary Magdalene and fathered her a child before he was crucified by the wholly Roman Empire, not something that doesn't deserve plausible consideration. Hell, Martin Scorcese brought that notion to screen back in 1988 with THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST and his vision pissed off just as many people and the Catholic church as author Dan Brown managed to do nearly two decades later.
Tom Hanks is a truly gifted actor who's portrayal of American symbologist Robert Langdon is played just as well as any other gifted actor like Harrison Ford or Al Pacino might do. His history with director Ron Howard certainly ads to the appeal of seeing him in this film. His hair style, I suppose is another matter entirely but it's easy to overlook when you're getting caught up in the riddles, the clues and the mystery that will eventually take him to the final resting place of the Holy Grail, which according to this story, is NOT a cup, but Mary Magdalene herself (does this mean that Monty Python and Indiana Jones were looking for the wrong thing??). Also, along the way, his travel companion Sophie Neveu (played by Audrey Tautou) will discover that she the last decendent of Jesus Christ's bloodline, that her grandfather wasn't really her grandfather and that her real grandmother is still alive (is Darth Vader really her father, too??) But like I said before, I have no personal beliefs or practices to offend with such claims. I can only state my opinion that facts of history (religious or not) have likely been grossly distorted throughout the centuries as sure as the sun rises in the morning. Perhaps this means that someone like me can keep the most open mind about such claims and theories that threaten the very foundation of what faithful followers have had crammed into their brains their entire lives. In short, it's up to you.
One flaw in filming and editing that I feel I need to point out is the constant use of fantastic flashbacks depicting the events during the time of A.D. (Anno Domini). They are, in my opinion, completely useless and unnecessary. I would have considered good dialogue between great actors sufficient enough to tell the story of past events rather than watching something that looked like it came out of Peter Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Sir Leigh Teabing: "What if the world discovers that the greatest story ever told is actually a LIE?"