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DaVinci Code

2 Ratings: 3.5
A movie directed by Ron Howard

Dan Brown's best-selling book THE DA VINCI CODE gets adapted for the big screen thanks to director Ron Howard (CINDERELLA MAN), who helms this big budget production. Veteran actor Tom Hanks stars as professor Robert Langdon, whose Parisian lecture tour … see full wiki

Director: Ron Howard
Release Date: 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about DaVinci Code

Another Grail Story, But A Very Compelling One

  • May 20, 2006
Rating:
+3
Pros: Tightly written script, great historical data; thought-provoking story-line.

Cons: Lack of character development; Hanks and Audrey Tautou lacked chemistry.

The Bottom Line: Anyone with an interest in religious history should enjoy this movie, official criticism aside, as well as those who enjoy a challenge for their brain.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

As I stated in my review of the Dan Brown’s now legendary book The DaVinci Code, I am not a religious man; truth be told I am an agnostic, a man of logic, reason, and a tad too many questions about the whole God thing for most religious folk to answer. Organized religion is not for me, there has been and continues to be far to much suffering in the name of God, and far too much hypocrisy at the hands of those we should trust to live virtuous lives. That and I view religious institutions as those set up by men to control the masses. But at the same time I am not ready to give up on the idea that there is a higher being responsible for all that we see, and all that we are under the stars, but I am very, very close.

The being said, the search for the mythical Holy Grail, that cup of life Jesus Christ and his followers are said to have drunk from at the last supper, has intrigued me for a very long time from a purely historical standpoint. Many a tale has built around the search for what is said to be the source of God’s power on Earth. “According to tradition, Joseph of Arimathea kept the Grail after the Last Supper and collected Jesus’ blood in it when Jesus was crucified. After being conveyed to Britain, the vessel was passed down from generation to generation in Joseph's family. The Grail supposedly possessed many miraculous properties. It could furnish food for those without sin, and it could blind the impure of heart and strike mute the irreverent who came into its presence”…Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2005.

The Holy Grail has been the subject of legend since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ some 2006 years ago. For the faithful it holds enormous meaning, but for those of us on the edge of belief, it is more of a curiosity then anything else. Legend tells of course that the Holy Grail is a chalice, but the controversial new movie The Da Vinci Code explores another avenue of thought: that the Holy Grail is actually a collection of writings (Gospels) that prove Jesus Christ was a mere mortal, a child of God like the rest of us as opposed to the Son of God. Not only that, but Mary Magdalene far from being a prostitute was the chosen companion (wife) of Jesus Christ and that the two had a child together, and that she is the challis into which the blood of Jesus was poured in the for of a child. The movie also asserts that Jesus’ bloodline survives to this day, a living, breathing testament to Herald’s mortality.

But wait, there is more: the movie avows that The New Testament of the Holy Bible is a re-telling of Christian history commissioned by the Roman Emperor Constantine (the first Roman ruler to covert to the new religion albeit on his deathbed) when he presided over the first Ecumenical Council of the church at Nicaea in 325. The purpose of the New Testament was to elevate Jesus from mere mortal to the Son of God in an effort to unite the Empire under one spiritual conviction, and in the process fuse Pagan symbols with Christian faith, creating one Catholic faith for all to follow. The Holy Grail as Dan Brown tells it in The Da Vinci Code, is a collection of religious writing about the life of Jesus that were left out of the New Testament; again proving that Jesus, though a righteous man, was just a man, nothing more.

It is a historical fact that there were as many as 50 Gospels in circulation at the time the New Testament was written and that only 27 made it into the New Testament of the Holy Bible. What happened the other 23 and what did they have to say about the life and times of Jesus?

All of this brings us to the movie The Da Vinci Code, a movie that has received more hype then the release of the last Star Wars movie. Anyone who has read the book is of course familiar with the plot line, but for those haven’t taken the plunge…

The Plot

Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Parenthood, A Beautiful Mind) with script by Akiva Goldsman, The Da Vinci Code open as the renowned curator of the famed Louvre Art Museum in Paris France, Jacques Sauniere portrayed by Jean-Pierre Marielle is slain by a single assassins’ bullet to the stomach. The assassin is an albino monk named Silas is portrayed by Paul Bettany (Dogville, A Beautiful Mind, Wimbledon) and a member of Opus Dei, an ultra-conservative Catholic religious sect that knows the secret of the Grail is trying to destroy it.

But before he dies, he leaves a number of intriguing clues to a closely guarded secret he and four other men (also slain the same night) were the guardians of. The clues can only be deciphered by his grand-daughter, Sophie Neveu portrayed by French actresses Audrey Tautou (Amelie, A Long Engagement) a cryptologist with the French Judicial Police, and a renowned professor of Religious Symbology Robert Langdon, portrayed by Tom Hanks (Splash, Big, The Bonfire of the Vanities). The professor who teaches at Harvard University is in Paris to give a lecture and slide show “about pagan symbolism hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral…” This is of course to promote his new book of Pagen and religious symbology.

After Jacques Sauniere is found dead a captain of the France’s Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire, one Bezu Fache, portrayed by Jean Reno (Ronin, Rollerball, Godzilla) is called in to investigate. He sends his able right hand Lieutenant Jerome Collet over to a book signing to collect Langdon to help explain the clues Jacques Sauniere has left, or so he says.

Sophie Neveu, understands some clues in the from of codes, puzzle boxes, and poems her Grand-pere (Grandfather) has left behind, and together with Langdon, who lends his knowledge to her own, they traverses Paris, London and finally Glasgow in a search for the Holy Grail’s final resting place all the while being pursued by Silas. At one point however, they drop in on an old friend of Langdon’s an English chap by the name of Sir Leigh Teabing, portrayed by Ian McKellen (Richard III, X-Men, The Lord of the Rings). Teabing is a renowned Grail historian and it is at his feet that we learn the secret of the Grail, and we learn that Sauniere was the Grand Master of an ages old secret religious society that was formed to protect the Holy Grail and the heirs of Jesus from the Church since the 12th century. The secret society called the Priory of Sion, which Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci were also members.
Movie critics have had little nice to say about this movie adaptation of the The Da Vinci Code; their criticisms have mostly centered around the character portrayals and not the storyline. Ian McKellen is lauded while Hanks and Audrey Tautou are faulted for having no chemistry, and for being boring. Hanks is singled out as being somewhat wooded in his portrayal of the studied Harvard professor.

I must admit that I agree somewhat with those criticisms, but they did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the film. In the book the story unfolds in a couple of days, so too with the movie, which at times was slow and plodding, but the back story was necessary in order to tell the chronicle and have it seem plausible. Character development suffered, but again it did not dampened my enjoyment of the The Da Vinci Code. And after all, the movie takes place is such a short amount of time, it would have been hard to forge a real plausible connection between the Professor and the code breaker. The book of course did not suffer this limitation.

Thankfully for us the The Da Vinci Codewas shot on location so we are treated to the sights and sounds of both France and Great Britain steeped as they are in history. Who knew the English countryside was so green and lush? And the history lesson one is treated to is worth the price of admission; the The Da Vinci Codeis through-provoking if it is nothing else. It made me want to dig deeper into the mystery of the Grail and more importantly the missing Gospels.

Director Ron Howard does an excellent job of fusing the past with the present in the form of frequent flashbacks which do lend a little to the well of character formation. All of these are down in stark black and white footage, a deliberate attempt no doubt the separate the here and now with its rich mosaic of color from the past, which it turns out was rather traumatic for both of our main characters.

While the holy and otherwise devote may find the contents of The Da Vinci Code disturbing, one should bear in mind that it is a movie, a work of fiction—albeit compelling—and should be seen and digested in that light. It is a movie well worth seeing at least once and perhaps for me twice, or three times; I fund the story that compelling.

Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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