May 17, 2006

What's the shocking truth about "The Da Vinci Code"?

The movie's boring!
The Vatican has led the offensive against The Da Vinci Code, calling for a boycott and even unspecified legal action against both the book and film.

While the protests have provided studio Sony Pictures with the kind of publicity money can't buy, the reaction at the first press screening in Cannes was largely negative, and loud laughter broke out at one of the pivotal scenes.

"Nothing really works. It's not suspenseful. It's not romantic. It's certainly not fun," said Stephen Schaefer of the Boston Herald.

"It seems like you're in there forever. And you're conscious of how hard everybody's working to try to make sense of something that basically perhaps is unfilmable."
Whoops! Too bad the Vatican jumped the gun and gave them all that free publicity.

Here's that New Yorker article about how Sony Pictures envisioned religious controversy as a marketing project:
The Sony strategy... was to try to turn the controversy over “The Da Vinci Code” to the film’s advantage. There was no way to stop a Christian critique of [author Dan] Brown’s ideas, but, if leading Christian voices could somehow be coaxed into an association with the “Da Vinci” movie, the criticism might seem less like an attack and more like engagement.

UPDATE: The links to the reviews are currently collecting over at Rotten Tomatoes, which is currently registering 0% positive reviews (out of 7).


TWM said...

My wife and son loved the book so they will go see the movie no matter how bad it is. So will most of the book's other fans, so as the article said, it will be a big hit protests or not.

Ricardo said...

Remember all the criticisms, attacks, defensive speeches, and engagement over "The Passion of the Christ"? Then, all of a sudden, everything just went away. One minute we're in the middle of a hurricane, and then blue skies appear and the sun comes out. I wonder how that happens. Isn't this just a repeat of the same advertising model?

Joe said...

The amount of hype seems to be inversely proportional to the quality of the movie. The old rule was that a 2 page add in the Times meant it was a stinker.
The book was a real page turner. Guess it did not translate to the screen.

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Ann and all,

There's a bit more to the story of the Vatican's reaction than most are yet aware of. Read my analysis below to understand what they truly fear.

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

It's not the DaVinci Code or Gospel of Judas per se, but the fact that people have been motivated to seek out the unequivocal truth about an age of deception, exactly when they expect me to appear. The Gospel of Judas and DaVinci Code controversies are allowing people to take new stock of the Vatican/Papacy and the religions it has spawned. It also shines a bright spotlight on the undeniable symbolic content of these texts and traditions and that path leads to the exposure of ages-old religious deceptions. Seek to understand the symbolic significance of my name (Seven Star Hand) and you will have proof beyond disproof that Christians have long been duped by the great deceivers I warned humanity about over the millennia.

It is quite a joke that the Vatican and Catholic Church have the gall to accuse the author of a novel of attacking their fantasies and dogma. Remember that this is the same organization that manufactured fake relics and miracles for many centuries. This is the same group that massacred and tortured people for seeking the truth and having a mind of their own. This is the same group of deluded deceivers that makes more noise about a fictional book and movie than about child raping priests, aids, famine, or even the Holocaust! At what point does the Vatican's behavior go from the absurd to simply purely evil?

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!!

Joe said...

Tinfoil hat alert!

Troy said...

I must admit, Dan Brown's pompous and outright false statements that it was all true about the art etc., the book was a pretty good each read. I would imagine this movie version might fall into the same trap George Lucas fell into -- movies containing long dialogue or monologue on complex conspiracy theories or political problems (like all of the new Star Wars' talk of political intrigue or mundane public administration babble) is a millstone around a movie that drags it down quickly.

Can't you just hear Tom Hanks go on about symbolology (or whatever the hell it's called) and how he can't believe how "the Church" (cue evil music) has fooled the world all these years, and how he informs every new character about the "sacred feminine", or the Knights Templar, etc.?

My Sacred Momma always said, "Da Vinci paintings are like boxes of chocolate -- you never know what you're gonna get."

And besides he's a professor for God's sake! Besdies Indiana Jones and perhaps Donald Sutherland's Animal House turn, has there ever been a cool professor character in the movies? I'm a prof, it's not the sexiest vocation. Hanks, I wager, is going to "talk" endlessly throughout the movie.

And it should be "Leonardo's Code". but that's just a quibble.

I like Ron Howard and Hanks so I hope it works out for them, but it doesn't look good.

quietnorth said...

I had two complaints about the book, and without giving too much away, I think the best suspense mysteries leave the reader with some mystery at the end. Some things get uncovered, but the greater sense of the world as a mysterious, dark place remains. I am thinking of Chinatown, The Maltese Falcon, or The Last Wave. The revealing of all mystery brings up my second problem with the Da Vinci Code: Once the mystery was revealed, I thought "huh?". The motivation for hiding information so damning to the church was completely unbelievable.

Tim Sisk said...

In all due fairness, Ann, even if the Vatican hadn't given all that "free publicity" there would have been plenty of publicity around. This week, Matt Lauer is in Paris, for gosh sakes touring the Louvre, because of the Da Vinci code. Yeah, it was basically a puff piece about a great place, but at least half of his questions to the museum's staff was about movie.

And it isn't just the Today Show that has been pimping the movie. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie so freely pimped by different media outlets.

I think that has driven the high profile criticism of the movie by the Vatican and other church groups who feel that all the publicity needs to be challenged.

I liked the Orthodox Church's reaction when they said in effect, the movie's historical claims are wrong and offensive, but its up to our members whether they want to waste their time on it.

quietnorth said...

"has there ever been a cool professor character in the movies?"

troy, that is a great question!
Let me think .... maybe Charles W. Kingsfield in Paper Chase?

TWM said...

For adventure buffs, how about Indiana Jones and his dad played by Sean Connery for cool professors.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Wow, Seven Star Hand is like the religious version of Quxxo!

Misquoting Jesus? Anyone who seriously says, "In Matthew, Mark and Luke, you find no trace of Jesus being divine; in John you do," is either willfully stupid, uninformed, or dishonest -- sort of like Dan Brown. But it's a great way to sell a lot of books, that's for sure.

On a serious note, I am curious about libel law. If you write a "fiction" book and accuse an actual, existing Catholic group of murder, aren't you open to libel? I know the Roman Catholic Church wouldn't pursue legal remedy, but isn't that libelous? Or can you get away with it by calling it fiction?

Philip Booth said...

I agree about the "shocking truth" about Da Vinci.

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.

Freeman Hunt said...

Seven Star Hand lists his occupation as "Messiah."

Ann Althouse said...

Who needs the Vatican when you have Matt Lauer?


You can libel someone in a work of fiction. Some hard questions of fact are presented. Who, specifically, is accused of murder? A fictional character? The church is a big conspiracy in the book, presumably. But that doesn't mean anyone is libeled.

What I find more interesting is just that so many people are in search of a religion that excites them the right way, with little regard for whether it's actually true. And they like the titillation of a big secret in the center, even if it's a big lie.


Was Kingsfield a "cool professor"? I don't think so. He was sadistic and full of thinly veiled hostility. Professors are usually the antagonists for other characters that we're supposed to identify with, so the tendency would be to make them uncool.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Cool professors?

Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. Though was Sam Neill a professor or just a paleontologist?

madawaskan said...

I hate to say this but it reminded me of Nancy Drew.

Now either Nancy Drew was really good or-

The Da Vinci Code sucks....

quietnorth said...

OK, I withdraw KIngsfield for Rupert Giles from Buffy.

Elizabeth said...

Nancy Drew had a much more exciting wardrobe than the Code's main character.

I have a friend who dislikes the book because of its inauthenticity. Sophie appears in her first scene wearing a fisherman's sweater and thick, woolen tights. Mais, non! My friend, who lived for years in Paris, no Parisian woman would be caught dead in that outfit.

I read it, and it is as someone said, "a page turner," but it has several problems. The puzzles aren't puzzling. I was about to detail some, but that would be a spoiler, yes? Sorry. What sums it up for me is that whenever a narrator assures me that a character is brilliant, just beyond smart and much more brainy than anyone else in his field, or in the book, or the universe, I know we're in for disappointment. Only a really brainy author can keep up with such a character, and while Dan Brown's got millions of reasons to call himself smart, well, there's smarts and then there's smarts.

I'm going to the movie, though. It's sure to be visually pleasing.

Joe said...

My nomination for coolest professor in moviedom: Sam Kinison in Back to School.

Susan Constanse said...

When I picked up the Da Vinci Code, my bookseller warned me that I would be disappointed. He was right, the book absolutely sucked. Poorly written, two dimensional charcters, bad plot.

But, and here's the big thing, it did make me curious about the origins of the christian face, enough that I sought info on the internet and struggled through some scholarly works.

I won't be going to see the movie, though. I love Ron Howard, but pass on Tom Hanks.

Truly said...

Elizabeth-- Maybe this professor in the book is a Mary Sue? (

I'm not much of a fiction person so I haven't read it. It's a shame, though, that so many people are going to take his slipshod scholarship as the truth.

Jim Gust said...

Cool professor? How about John Malkovich in Art School Confidential?

Troy said...

Cool professors... Jurassic Park yes... Kingsfield was sadistic.

Big Hal said...

I tried to read the book a while back but he sort of lost me with the gps tracking device hidden in the hero's pocket. A small detail I know but I didn't find the stuff that followed that revelation to be any more plausible or interesting. Also, I realized fairly early in that I was reading a book that seemed like a complete ripoff of Holy Blood Holy Grail which I'd read back in '83. I was hoping that the movie would be more entertaining than the book as my wife wants to see it. Oh well, guess I'll load up a book on my Ipod and fire that up if the movie gets to be too tedius.

TheCommentsGuy said...

I tried to read the book a while back but he sort of lost me with the gps tracking device hidden in the hero's pocket. A small detail I know but I didn't find the stuff that followed that revelation to be any more plausible or interesting. Also, I realized fairly early in that I was reading a book that seemed like a complete ripoff of Holy Blood Holy Grail which I'd read back in '83.

The book lost me at "Professor of Religious Symbology" (how about History Professor who focuses on religious semiotics). I also laughed out loud at how all the women found Langdon oh so sexy but he knew better.

As to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the central macguffin in the book, the Priory of Sion secret society and their purpose was taken entirely from that book, the basis of which has been proven to be a hoax perpetrated by a couple of drunk Frenchman.

Pastor_Jeff said...

"...the basis of which has been proven to be a hoax perpetrated by a couple of drunk Frenchman."

Wait -- are we talking about "The DaVinci Code" or 20th century French philosophy?

Seven Machos said...

Seven Star Hand has nothing to do with Seven Machos. Not even one single Macho.

shake-and-bake said...

Didn't you know it would suck as soon as they announced Tom Hanks would play the lead? The guy's been sinking like a stone since "Volunteers."

DNR Mom said...

Glad to see others also disliked DaVinci. Not enough character development to make me care about any of it. An unhappier ending would have been fine with me, esp if it had come 100 pages sooner.

Alan Kellogg said...

Here's a book for you all, The Asti Spumonte Code. Its main selling point is the fact Leonardo da Vinci makes no appearance at all in it.

Johnny Nucleo said...

'Didn't you know it would suck as soon as they announced Tom Hanks would play the lead? The guy's been sinking like a stone since "Volunteers."'

Now that's just absurd. Tom Hanks is a genuine movie star. He's made at least two pictures, Saving Private Ryan and Forrest Gump, that will outlast us all.

Ron Howard on the other hand is a hack. He hasn't made a good picture since Splash.

Abraham said...

Cool Professors? I would have loved to be friends with Fred Murray as the Absent-minded Professor. Jack Ryan was a stand-up guy. Professor Falken turned out to be pretty cool. "Doc" Emmett Brown was a pretty great professor.

But the all-time coolest professors would have to be, of course: Ray, Egon, and Peter.

West Coast Independent said...

Cool Professors?

The coolest professor without a doubt was "The Professor" on Gilligan's Island.

Ann Althouse said...

When I hear "The Professor," I think of this movie.

AlaskaJack said...

Pastor Jeff raises an interesting question. Can an institution be libeled?

Suppose a writer, with lucrative book and film contracts, comes to me for advice on whether his new book will open him up to a libel case.

The plot of his book runs something like this: For the last 100 years or so, a named prestigious east coast law school has actually been a front for the headquarters of a world wide cabal that creates and markets child ponography. The entire faculty and administration are involved. Law review articles written by the school's professors are actually elaborate codes by which information is communicated to other members of the cabal. An attractive female law student uncovers the plot and finds herself in great danger from members of the fictional law faculty who stop at nothing in trying to eliminate her. She seeks help from her boy friend, a graduate student in philosophy, and the adventure begins.

What advice do I give this writer? Couldn't actual faculty members at this law school make a credible argument that they were libeled and held up to ridicule even though all the characters in the book were fictional? Is the law school itself without any remedy?

Elizabeth said...

alaskajack's scenario reminded me of a book in the same general vein as DaVinci Code, but much more enjoyable: Gospel: A Novel, by Wilton Barnhardt. He's a wittier writer than Brown, his characters are stereotypes, but more engaging than Brown's, and his scholarship is better. It's a mystery of sorts, with a grad student and her aging mentor on a round-the-world search for missing 1st century gospel that will challenge some core beliefs of Christianity. The Holy Spirit has some good lines. If I recall correctly, it's about renewing and rediscovering faith, after digging through the layers of history and human distortions.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Rotten Tomatoes has a message board where people are actually arguing that this is a Christian conspiracy to spike the movie.