“Who Are These People And Why Do I Care?”

by Jimmy Akin

in Film and TV

Da_vinci_posterThat’s the question I was asking myself thirty minutes into The Da Vinci Code.

Of course, I knew intellectually who the characters were before I stepped into the theater, but the film did next to nothing to tell me who they were and it did absolutely nothing to establish them as presences on screen who I should care about. They’re just emotionally null images who show up and start running around and doing . . . stuff.

Lots of  . . . stuff.

Like . . . y’know . . . driving around in cars backwards in traffic really fast and looking at secret messages written in ink that only shows up in ultraviolet light and talking a lot about symbolism and God and getting shot at repeatedly and . . . and . . .  and the Mona Lisa was in it, too! (For about five seconds.) . . . And there were a couple of churches . . . I think.

Oh! And the movie was set in France! Yes! I definitely remember that! France was in the movie!

The movie was a horrible, horrible mess. I mean, you may have thought that The Big Sleep was hard to follow, but that’s nothing compared to the mess that The Da Vinci Code is. The Big Sleep also has one big advantage over this movie: The Big Sleep is actually interesting.

Not Opie’s latest opus!

Man, is it boring! B-O-R-I-N-G!

Its boringness virtually overwhelmes its offensiveness. I kept yawning audibly through the whole thing.

It fails to establish who the characters are. It fails to establish their motives. It fails to establish why we should care about them. It fails to establish what they’re thinking. It fails to establish how they know what they know. It’s just a huge, sprawling, poorly-communicated mess.

And the overdramatic soundtrack is frequently shrilling overdramatically to tell you that this is a dramatic (!) movie because nothing you’re seeing on the screen is telling you that.

And somebody apparently spiked Richie Cunningham’s drink with a tab of acid, because there’s all these flashbacks and hallucinations and visions interrupting in the middle of sentences every five minutes, like when they’re going to Isaac Newton’s tomb and all of a sudden–for no reason at all, mind you–Mulder and ScullyLangdon and Neveu are suddenly surrounded by all these people from the 18th century, which only the audience (not the characters) can see.

Other film critics have talked about how there is no chemistry between Tom Hanks and the French actress who is in the Agent Scully role, but they’re not telling you the half of it! I mean, these two characters are so emotionally inert that from now on the nuclear waste management agency will be using their relationship to insulate spent uranium rods.

The only time the movie gets a little interesting is when Ian McKellan shows up as a walking anagram who hates the Church and is obsessed with the Holy Grail and injects a bit of humor into the movie.

He gets both of the movie’s intentionally funny lines.

One occurs when he is bluffing his and his manservant’s way past the police by telling them, "I’ve got a medical appointment that I can’t be late for, so if you are really that determined to stop us, you’ll just have to shoot us."

Then he jerks his head toward his manservant and says, "Start with him."

The other intentionally funny line occurs when McKellan has been unmasked as a villain (You weren’t expecting a spoiler-free review, were you?) and as he’s being bundled into a police car, he’s shouting hysterically about Tom Hanks: "That man has a map to the Holy Grail!"

Okay, you kinda have to be there for that one, but in context it was funny, and deliberately so.

That’s not the case with most of the funny lines in the movie. One of the best unintentionally funny lines is when Agent Scully is musing over the fact that Mary Magdalen’s sarcophagus has been moved and she says . . .

<overdramatic petulant French girl voice>The Church, did they finally . . . "get her"?</overdramatic petulant French girl voice>

Or when the Opus Dei cop tells another French cop who is a major character (his boss? his partner? his junior? his peer?) that he got a call from an Opus Dei bishop who told him that he’d just heard the confession of a killer named Fox MulderRobert Langdon and that’s why he’s so fanatically obsessed with catching Tom Hanks.

Some images in the movie are unintentionally funny, too, like when we get a flashback to the Council of Nicaea and it looks like a Renaissance-era, hypercaffeinated high school debate club complete with bleachers.

At what feels like the end of the movie we get a nice moment when Ian McKellan gets bundled off for being a homicidal nut job and you’re thinking, "Whew! Now that that’s over we can all get up and go home!" But NOOOOOOOOOOOO! There’s a whole nother sixteen hours in the movie that we have to sit through!

And in this sixteen hours we go back to the kind of boring, chaotic, poorly-explained, un-Ian-McKellanized . . . stuff . . . that dominated the first act of the film.

Like that conversation near the end of the film (only about three hours before the credits roll) between Mulder and Scully where Mulder is trying to convince her that she shouldn’t be so scientific and that what you believe is what is ultimately important and that if the audience claps its hands really hard then Tinkerbell will come back to life and maybe it’ll destroy or renew the Christian faith if she goes public with the fact that she’s the last surviving descendant of Jesus Christ (Sorry, if you didn’t want spoilers then you should have bailed when I outed Ian McKellan). Only he’s too convoluted for any of this conversation to make sense.

And then Scully ditches Mulder to go off with the secret sex cult that worships her (yeah, okay, I can buy that one) and he goes back to his hotel and starts shaving and he (dum! dum! dum!) cuts himself (hey, they’ve still got three hours before the credits; they have to fill it with something) and (I am not making this up!) he looks at the blood from his shaving nick and gets a VITAL CLUE (which makes no sense) to the location of the tomb of Mary Magdalen (who is buried in the Louvre, it turns out) and he goes out into the night running like a madman and . . . and . . . FAILS to find her tomb!

THE END!

Only it’s supposed to be a moving ending because he’s kneeling and maybe praying–or something–several hundred feet above her tomb, which he can’t see and only guesses is there.

And so the audience is left with bunches of unanswered questions like . . .

Why did Agent Scully decide to suddenly destroy her career as a French police woman for no good reason?

and

Who the heck was the bank manager working for when he decided to try and kill Mulder and Scully for no reason?

and

Did the evil albino who’s a hyper-religious Catholic know that Scully was a descendant of Jesus Christ–as seemed implied–or not–and if he did then why would a hyper-religious Catholic like him want to kill her?

and

Did that evil Opus Dei bishop know that Scully was a descendant of Jesus Christ–as seemed implied–and if so then how did he know it since her name had been changed and her identity masked to keep the Church from knowing that she was still alive? And why would he want to kill a descendant of his Savior?

and

Why did the French Opus Dei cop destroy the very piece of evidence that would have been most useful in a court of law to prove that Robert Langdon was the killer of the museum guy and then ruthlessly hunt him down for murdering the museum guy?

and

How on earth did the murdered museum guy have enough time as he was bleeding to death to strip nekkid and cover himself with ritualistic symbols in blood (and why would he do that, anyway?) and then think up a bunch of puzzles needed to write three secret messages in ultraviolet ink in different parts of the Louvre? And why was he carrying ultraviolet ink around with him to begin with?

and

Why would the museum guy go to all that trouble instead of just writing, "Please tell my granddaughter to go to Rosslyn Chapel and she’ll find a bunch of people who can tell her about her family. She doesn’t need to destroy her career as a cop and go on the lam from the law and put her life in danger repeatedly as she solves a bunch of superfluous puzzles. Honest!"?

and

Why would the museum guy write secret messages in ultraviolet ink on two of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces, and even if he were going to do that, why didn’t he write the important message on the first masterpiece? Why write an unimportant message on the first masterpiece simply to lead his granddaughter to the second?

and

Didn’t Ron Howard realize that stories about solving puzzles are only fun if the audience has the experience of being able to solve the puzzles with the characters on the screen and that it’s no fun at all if the puzzles are so complex that the audience can’t solve them and only gets to watch the characters on screen repeatedly pulling the answers out of thin air?

and

What’s the point of telling the audience that a particular series of numbers is the Fibonacci series if you don’t tell the audience what the Fibonacci series even is? (I mean, I used to be a math major, so I knew the answer to that one, but it’s still bad filmmaking. Ron Howard was NOT making this movie with me in mind, I can assure you.)

and

At just what point did Ron Howard and Tom Hanks realize that they were giving a huge number of people a really strong disincentive to ever see a Ron Howard or Tom Hanks movie again in the future?

and

Why is the Mona Lisa so important that it’s in all the advertising for this movie, when it shows up for about five seconds and its only significance is that it got vandalized by the museum guy with ultraviolet ink?

and

Why is Leonardo Da Vinci mentioned in like two scenes in this movie when he gets title billing?

and

What the heck is the Da Vinci code, anyway?

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{ 69 comments }

Tommy May 23, 2006 at 1:28 am

So…how do you really feel about the movie?
I’ve decided to boycott the movie not only on account of it being a web of lies, but mainly becasue everyone I’ve talked to seems to share your opinion of it.

Ann Margaret Lewis May 23, 2006 at 4:34 am

Other than that, Mr. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play.
I’ll pass. Not that I was going to go anyway.
–Ann

Ann Margaret Lewis May 23, 2006 at 4:34 am

Other than that, Mr. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
I’ll pass. Not that I was going to go anyway.
–Ann

Ann Margaret Lewis May 23, 2006 at 4:35 am

Oops. I hit that twice. Don’t sick the albino monk on me. It was an accident.
–Ann

bill912 May 23, 2006 at 4:43 am

Well, Jimmy, maybe you’ll spend a little less time in Purgatory for patiently enduring this tedium.

Kevin May 23, 2006 at 4:54 am

I don’t know, Tom, I’d like to burn down the whole franchise. I’ll be doing the othercott thing.

Tim J. May 23, 2006 at 6:06 am

Jimmy-
I appreciate your reviewing the movie on its artistic merits (or lack thereof), rather than focusing on wounded Catholic sensitivity (though Lord knows that would be justified).
It’s a different angle than that taken by many Catholic bloggers (and I’ve read them all).
I think that in the current climate it is better to review the DVC first from the perspective of a lover of movies, and then as a Catholic.
Steven Greydanus, I think, has done the best job of placing the movie in it’s cultural context, and of exposing the sleight of hand that the movie makers use to try and diffuse any real criticism. He documents the major moral crimes of the DVC franchise (lies, slander, bigotry, wilfull ignorance, blind hatred…) and makes plain that Ron Howard, far from playing down the most hateful aspects of the story, has thrown in with Dan Brown. Brown drove the dagger in, but Howard was happy to give it a twist or two in his film.
Your review only reassured me that evil can never be truly creative, nor can it comprehend real beauty. The abject artistic failure of the DVC movie (and book) only proves that, as Mark Shea has said, sin makes people stupid.
It also makes them into artistic imbeciles.

Ruthann May 23, 2006 at 6:13 am

Best review I’ve read. And certainly the most entertaining!
‘thann

bill912 May 23, 2006 at 6:15 am

Good point, Tim. It reminds me of a couple of things Screwtape wrote to Wormwood about how virtues were regretably (from his POV) necessary for evil(“What would Attila have been without his courage?”) and how hell had failed to produce even one virtue. Not to mention Screwtape’s detesting of beauty: “Music and silence! How I hate them both!” He preferred noise.

Jack Bennett May 23, 2006 at 6:19 am

Bravo, Jimmy! Thank you for giving me even more reason to avoid this dumb movie like the plague.

Rosemarie May 23, 2006 at 6:42 am

+J.M.J+
and
If the members of Opus Dei know that Jesus was a mere man who married Mary Magdalene and sired descendents by her which means Catholicism is all bunk, why do they dedicate their whole lives to a lie, with some even willing to repeatedly kill for the sake of that lie? Why don’t they just say, “Screw this useless mortification crap, lets go join up with the *real* followers of Jesus in that sex cult over there and get ourselves some”?
Then again, I didn’t see the movie, so maybe I’m missing something here.
In Jesu et Maria,

Scott W. May 23, 2006 at 7:10 am

Well, Jimmy, maybe you’ll spend a little less time in Purgatory for patiently enduring this tedium.
That’s a good take–The DVC as corporal mortification. Wearing the cilice is child’s play!

MaryC May 23, 2006 at 7:29 am

Thanks Jimmy, for a frank and non-*pious* review.
I wonder if a shakespearian actor of Sir Ian McKellen’s reputation would have allowed himself to be associated with such dross if it had not been for the anti-Christian content. I also wonder if he’ll live to regret it.

Matt C. Abbott May 23, 2006 at 8:11 am

Jimmy,
What happens to Silas, the monk-assassin?

Veronica May 23, 2006 at 8:16 am

Rosemarie: LOL. You hit the nail on the head with that one!

Tim J. May 23, 2006 at 8:37 am

The DVC does unintentionally make one interesting point.
That is, if you are going to attack Christianity at the source, you will be forced to attack the Catholic Church.
There are simply no other serious contenders.
Historic, authentic Christianity is Catholic Christianity. Dan Brown could not have attacked second and third century Protestants or underground fundamentalists, because there weren’t any.
If anyone could plausibly fake Christianity, it would be the Catholic Church, because they were the only ones around from the beginning.
Tear into the Church, if you like, but a Christian simply can’t do that without sawing off the limb they are on.

David B. May 23, 2006 at 8:49 am

WOW! I thought I had an idea of how bad this story was until I read your review!

Bender May 23, 2006 at 9:02 am

I protest sir. A thousand times I PROTEST!! Why you feel it necessary to drag in the good names of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (especially) is beyond me. Scully alone has more talent in her pinky toe than those boobs from DVC put together.

Jimmy Akin May 23, 2006 at 9:04 am

What happens to Silas, the monk-assassin?
He gets shot to death by the police, who are trying to arrest him for his crimes, and in the gunbattle he accidentally shoots and wounds the evil Opus Dei bishop who is his foster father, so he dies horrified at what he did to at least that guy.

Bender May 23, 2006 at 9:08 am

What the heck is the Da Vinci code, anyway?
Can we get a spoiler please for the incredibly silly “So Dark the Con of Man”? Its a dumb clue, but I’ve heard it so much that now I’m a bit curious about how dumb the answer to it is.

MaryC May 23, 2006 at 9:12 am

*Scully alone has more talent in her pinky toe than those boobs from DVC put together.*
I agree. Her alter ego, Gillian Anderson, recently gave a terrific performance as Lady Dedlock in the recent BBC adaptation of ‘Bleak House’.

Tim J. May 23, 2006 at 9:15 am

Having not read the movie or the book (and with the help of my art background) even my limited faculties can string that into “Madonna of the Rocks”, another DaVinci painting.
As an art student, I once copied it as an exercise.
I knew those Fine Art degrees would have to come in handy, one day.

Jimmy Akin May 23, 2006 at 9:16 am

Can we get a spoiler please for the incredibly silly “So Dark the Con of Man”?
It’s an anagram for the name of a painting: the “Madonna of the Rocks.” The museum guy has written “So Dark The Con Of Man” on the Mona Lisa to lead the characters to the Madonna of the Rocks, where there’s another riddle for them to solve that he wrote while he was bleeding to death.

Tony May 23, 2006 at 9:23 am

Or when the Opus Dei cop tells another French cop who is a major character (his boss? his partner? his junior? his peer?) that he got a call from an Opus Dei bishop who told him that he’d just heard the confession of a killer named Fox MulderRobert Langdon and that’s why he’s so fanatically obsessed with catching Tom Hanks.
You mean excommunicated Opus Dei bishop, don’t you? :)

Bender May 23, 2006 at 9:57 am

It’s an anagram for the name of a painting: the “Madonna of the Rocks.”
Aren’t the French police incredibly offended that all these clues are in ENGLISH rather than en Francais? Isn’t that a greater crime in France than all this murder and intrigue?

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B. May 23, 2006 at 10:14 am

We have “reason to rejoice and be glad” to have “The Da Vinci Code” revile us and portray all kinds of evil against us falsely.
In his Holy Gospel according to Matthew, fifth chapter, verses 10 through 12, our Lord himself tells us:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you
and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven,
for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
In the Gospel itself, we see men revile, slander, falsely denounce, abuse, persecute, torture and kill Jesus.
Is “The Da Vinci Code” any different?
It’s full of falsehoods, and we have an obligation to counter the falsehoods.
However, let’s not be surprised or shocked. Our Lord told us to expect this kind of thing. By reacting with publicized surprise and shock, Christians have helped to give this movie greater publicity than it deserves even just from an artistic perspective.

mrsdarwin May 23, 2006 at 10:37 am

I mean, these two characters are so emotionally inert that from now on the nuclear waste management agency will be using their relationship to insulate spent uranium rods.
Ow! Ow! Owww!
To me, it was worth you seeing the movie just so you could write this line.

Dave Mueller May 23, 2006 at 10:54 am

I’m too depressed over “Invasion” being cancelled to work up much emotion over this. But I’m glad it seems to be a major flop!
Did anyone else watch “Invasion”? The last 8-10 episodes were about the best TV I’ve watched ever.

Tim M. May 23, 2006 at 11:15 am

Speaking of “Screwtape”… maybe this is redundant but there is an EXCELLENT article at
http://www.godspy.com/reviews/Screwtape-On-The-DaVinci-Code-by-Eric-Metaxas.cfm
“Screwtape On the Da Vinci Code” by Eric Metaxas
it’s a hoot and a howl and oh so Lewisianly delicious.
blessed be God forever and ever!!!

c matt May 23, 2006 at 11:34 am

I have to agree with Bender – the Mulder/Scully team had plenty of chemistry – no need to bismirch by association.
I also have to add that, at least as a puzzle thriller, National Treasure wasn’t half bad. Obviously, TDVC doesn’t even come close.

T. Chan May 23, 2006 at 11:39 am

Mr. Mueller–it is unfortunate that ABC cancelled Invasion; but apparently ppl prefer something like Gray’s Anatomy…

Margaret May 23, 2006 at 11:45 am

I’m so glad to see other commenters jumping to the defense of Scully and Mulder. Honestly, Jimmy, what were you thinking???

Tex May 23, 2006 at 11:51 am

Ian McKlellan’s *manservant*? Hawawaawawawaawa!!
Jimmy, you had too much fun writing this — almost as much fun as I had reading it.

Jimmy Akin May 23, 2006 at 12:11 pm

I have to agree with Bender – the Mulder/Scully team had plenty of chemistry – no need to bismirch by association.
I didn’t say that Mulder & Scully (the real ones) don’t have chemistry.
It’s *this* film’s knock-off of Mulder & Scully that are incapable of being catalyzed emotionally.
I just wanted to point out that Dan Brown is cribbing from The X-Files formula . . . and doing it badly.

Bender May 23, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Monday’s box office numbers are in — $8.8 million, down 58 percent from Sunday’s $21.1 million.
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/daily/chart/?sortdate=2006-05-22&p=.htm

Anonymous May 23, 2006 at 12:15 pm

Luckovich at the AJC has this
cartoon

Rosemarie May 23, 2006 at 12:23 pm

+J.M.J+
So he cribbed the “Jesus was married with children” bull from Baigent/Leigh/Lincoln, the
“suppressed alternative gospels” claim from Pagels and Co., the “Constantine started the Church” stuff from anti-Catholic fundies, the “patriarchy bad, goddess-worship good” nonsense from neopagan feminism, the albino assassin from Foul Play and now the hero and heroine from the X-Files? Praytell, was there anything new in this novel?
DVC is almost like the summa of modern Western heresies.
In Jesu et Maria,

Gene Branaman May 23, 2006 at 12:41 pm

“. . . for no reason at all, mind you–Mulder and ScullyLangdon and Neveu are suddenly surrounded by all these people from the 18th century, which only the audience (not the characters) can see.”
See, this is why I consider Ron Howard a hack director. He relies on little cinematic tricks like Jimmy describes above, usually employing clever special effects. I just had the opportunity to watch the recent version of Pride & Prejudice this weekend. Wow – really very well done. Director Joe Wright’s transitions occasionally employ the use of clever special effects but, unilke Howard’s, they are flawless & effective; they never call attention to themselves. The help propel the story along & aren’t mere gimicks that exist ‘cos Howard had to use up his $125M budget.

rjm May 23, 2006 at 12:45 pm

Whoever posted the ajc cartoon, thank you – that was brilliant! :)

MaryC May 23, 2006 at 12:59 pm

Ditto

Edward May 23, 2006 at 1:32 pm

Monday’s box office numbers are in — $8.8 million, down 58 percent from Sunday’s $21.1 million.
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/daily/chart/?sortdate=2006-05-22&p=.htm

Before anyone gets giddy, that is actually the smallest Sunday-to-Monday drop in the top 5. A large Monday drop is normal (except for holidays such as Memorial Day).

Tim J. May 23, 2006 at 2:25 pm

“DVC is almost like the summa of modern Western heresies.”
Which, predictably enough, turn out to be the OLD Western heresies.

Maureen May 23, 2006 at 4:22 pm

After all the jogging, graffitizing, costuming, and posing this curator does while dying, I dare anyone to complain that in La Boheme, Mimi sings long arias while dying of tuberculosis.

xavier May 23, 2006 at 4:46 pm

Jimmy:
The Duh Vinci code: the 21st century’s Plan 9 from outer space :)
Why would Langdon have killed Sanguière? What’s his motive? (yeah who cares? But it still fun to speculate)
xavier

Daniel May 23, 2006 at 5:47 pm

I haven’t seen the Da Vinci Code (yet?) but I’m sure it isn’t half as interesting as a typical X-Files episode.

fbc May 23, 2006 at 6:08 pm

Xavier –
You mean Jacques Fromage do you not?
(With apologies to the well done Norman Rockwell Code.

John E May 24, 2006 at 10:32 am

I think the characters may have missed some other obvious anagrams of “So Dark the Con of Man”:
NO CARED FOR TOM HANKS
TOM HANKS: NO DO FARCE
DEAF CO.: RON, TOM HANKS
TOM HANKS FOR DEACON (Ok, that’s not too appropriate)

John E May 24, 2006 at 11:06 am

Dan Brown, The Davinci Code
“Conned!” The vain coward bid.

wooga May 24, 2006 at 12:02 pm

My impression was that there was no “ultraviolet ink”. IT WAS BLOOD. Dried blood against a burgundy wood floor would be easier to see under the police light.
And the entire purpose of the multiple riddles was to keep the bad guys from finding the grail. The old sex museum guy was trying to keep the secret, but pass it on in code to Tom Hanks.
The bank manager wasn’t working for anybody. He was a thief, who figured he could rob two murder suspects.
These points were blatantly obvious. Look, I understand that the premise of the movie is deeply offensive, that there are numerous slams against Christianity (the worst uttered by McKellan), that Dan Brown is a terrible dialog writer, that Ron Howard always uses overly cheesy music, and the french actress in this movie sucked. But, (1) the movie was better than the book, and (2) it was more entertaining than most of the crap put out by Hollywood. People are overactive in bagging on this movie (rather than abortions like King Kong) because of the offensive and slanderous subject matter. Outside of that, it’s still a well above average hollywood movie. What else in the theaters right now is better? (besides “Thank You for Smoking”)

Arvin May 24, 2006 at 12:18 pm

After all the jogging, graffitizing, costuming, and posing this curator does while dying, I dare anyone to complain that in La Boheme, Mimi sings long arias while dying of tuberculosis.
Or Violetta in La Traviata, or Gilda dying after being stabbed in Rigoletto. Of course, in these cases, our disbelief is securely suspended (the cast has been singing all its lines and we’ve been sitting in a opera house!). In the case of TDVC, it’s pretty clear that Brown, Howard, et al. are trying to convince us not to suspend our disbelief.

Anon May 24, 2006 at 5:55 pm

Wooga writes, “And the entire purpose of the multiple riddles was to keep the bad guys from finding the grail. The old sex museum guy was trying to keep the secret, but pass it on in code to Tom Hanks.”
Does it not strain one’s willing suspense of disbelief just a little to suppose that the museum curator would go to all this time/trouble to pass on a message, when according to the Louvre’s own website there are 12 pay phones in the Louvre? Anyone who, while dying, has the energy to crawl all over the place leaving obscure messages in his own blood surely has the strenght and presence of mind to get to a phone and make a call. Even if he doensn’t have any change, and has to call collect.

DavidOmaha May 24, 2006 at 8:30 pm

wooga writes “What else in the theaters right now is better? (besides “Thank You for Smoking”)”
While I have yet to see TDVC, I would argue that “Akeelah and the Bee” is far better, since we are given the time and reason to care about the characters and what their motivations are. Plus, not a bad performance in the bunch!

hal_79 May 24, 2006 at 10:02 pm

For Jimmy Akin:
You should watch the movie again. Seriously. It wasnt a good film, but I think you can find answers to some of your questions in the movie. if you werent too biased, i think.
Cheers

Jimmy Akin May 24, 2006 at 10:10 pm

Hal: I’m quite sure that I could. If I watched the movie again, I’m sure that I’d be able to figure out the answers to some of my questions. I’m sure there are clues buried in the film that clarify some of these matters.
The point I was making, though, is that the filmmakers didn’t make these points *clear enough* to the audience. I’m an attentive, puzzle-solving movie watcher, and the answers to my questions were not clear to me from watching the film a single time.
That’s what I mean when I say that the movie failed to establish things effectively. I don’t mean that it didn’t gesture at doing so or that if you watched it several times you couldn’t put the pieces together. I meant that it didn’t communicate what it was doing clearly *enough* that the answers to the questions I posed were obvious for an attentive, puzzle-solving movie watcher such as myself.
What clues it contains concerning my questions went by too fast in this blurred, jumble of a movie.

hal_79 May 25, 2006 at 10:23 pm

Jimmy
I saw the movie once. And when I was reading your questions, I kinda knew what the answers to them were. I guess what I’m trying to point out is that even the strongest images, explanation etc. cannot possibly penetrate a closed mind.
Im a devout Catholic, still is. But the movie did not offend me in anyway. On the contrary, it strengthened my faith. Plus, I was entertained despite the fact that the movie is crappy compared to the book.
Just my thoughts.
Cheers.

hal_79 May 25, 2006 at 10:25 pm

And by the way. I watched the movie first before I read the book. The book’s incredible.
Hal

John E May 26, 2006 at 7:38 am

I haven’t read the book or seen the movie, but I’ve heard bits and pieces about it. From what I understand, Jesus was just a mere man and was later given an “upgrade” by Constantine at the Council of Nicea, and Mary Magdalene was the true “Holy Grail” which continued the bloodline of Christ. If Jesus was mere man, is there any mention in the book or the movie as to why they’re trying to find Mary Magdalene’s tomb (which in reality can be found), rather than Jesus’ tomb, or the Virgin Mary’s tomb for that matter? No offense to Mary Magdalene, but if you’re going to write a blasphemous book, seems like that would be a more interesting story.

Tim J. May 26, 2006 at 8:38 am

“The book’s incredible.”
Oooh… what a stinging indictment of our educational system. Anyone even passingly familiar with great writing would recognize the DVC for the drek that it is.
And, if (according to Brown) Jesus was “just some guy” (not divine), why would his alleged wife be any big deal? That would make her just “some guy’s wife”, so who CARES where her tomb is?
These people are too “intellectual” to believe that Jesus is God, but they can’t WAIT to make Mary Magdalene a goddess! What’s wrong with this picture?
From a Catholic perspective, though , she remains someone special, because she was such a great disciple of the Lord Jesus, the God-Man who died for the sins of the whole world and rose again.
Wherever her tomb is, she must be spinning like a top.

StubbleSpark May 26, 2006 at 9:48 am

hal,
In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus advises us on standing up for him in times of trial:
He who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my father in Heaven. He who denies me before others I will deny before my father in Heaven.
It is not entertainment to go to a movie that slanders your spouse. People were fed to lions for refusing to spend two seconds in front of Caesar’s altar entertaining the very same notions this train wreck pushes for 2.5 hours. And you went because you were BORED?
The fact you think the movie is worse than the book also tells me you are a very unsophisticated reader. As a book, the DVC is flat, incoherent, full of demagoguery, and condescending (think heresy as written by USA Today). Not to mention all the events in the book unfold to absolutely no discernible purpose whatsoever — making it a pathetic waste of time. For those of us sophisticated readers with active imaginations, the book plays out just like the movie does.
You may think you are all that because you have such pedestrian taste in art but some crowds were meant to be shunned. Especially the crowd of unloving, undevoted simpletons whose lack of faith turn them into cheating spouses to Christ.

Tony May 26, 2006 at 10:07 am

I have to agree with Hal. The book is incredible.
Main Entry: in·cred·i·ble
Pronunciation: (“)in-‘kre-d&-b&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin incredibilis, from in- + credibilis credible
: too extraordinary and improbable to be believed; also : hard to believe
DVC is indeed to extraordinary and improbable to be believed.

Tony May 26, 2006 at 10:08 am

I have to agree with Hal. The book is incredible.
Main Entry: in·cred·i·ble
Pronunciation: (“)in-‘kre-d&-b&l
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin incredibilis, from in- + credibilis credible
: too extraordinary and improbable to be believed; also : hard to believe
DVC is indeed too extraordinary and improbable to be believed.

wooga May 26, 2006 at 10:30 am

I hate to be agreeing with someone who thinks Dan Brown is a competent writer, but I have to say the movie was not this monstrosity that every one here wishes it to be.
TimJ wrote, “These people are too “intellectual” to believe that Jesus is God, but they can’t WAIT to make Mary Magdalene a goddess! What’s wrong with this picture?”
This quote embodies what’s wrong with the movie _protestors_. In the movie, it is very clear that the hero (Hanks) does NOT agree with the assertion by the villain (McKellan-Teabing) that Jesus was a mere mortal. Teabing is going on a rant about Jesus getting an “upgrade”, and Hanks repeatedly counters and rejects Teabing’s nonsense. And in the end, Teabing is revealed to be a rambling lunatic, while Hanks remains Mr. smarty pants. If I were to protest a movie every time the _villain_ said something that offended me… well I probably wouldn’t see any movies at all.
I took the movie as trying to allow for Jesus to be both divine and a father. The portion of Teabing’s rant which Hanks does not expressly reject is the notion that the Church was supposed to have been led by Mary rather than Peter, and thus Opus Dei is seeking to eliminate the holy blood “Magdalene” line to retain the “Peter” control of the Church.
The whole “Magdalene” cult, as portrayed in the movie, embraces Christ’s divinity. The heresy is the _addition_ of the blood line, not the _denial_ of divinity. Still a heresy, but not a “double secret probation” heresy.

mulopwepaul May 26, 2006 at 10:40 am

The premise that Brown accepts Christ’s divinity in the book, but only grafts on a family is untenable (which doesn’t mean Brown doesn’t believe it–just that he hasn’t thought about it). If Christ had physical heirs, then his physical nature would have been part of their physical make-up as well. If his divine physical nature was shared by other humans, how could they have ever known death?
Or is it like the Shi’ites, with a bunch of 1200 year-old patriarchs tucked away in hiding?
PVO

wooga May 26, 2006 at 1:01 pm

I don’t follow mulopwepaul… Christ’s body died on the cross. I do not believe that the resurrection was due to some “regeneration” gene (a la “Highlander”), and thus resurrection would not be a hereditary trait (even if it were, it could be recessive). If you were able to make a DNA clone of Christ, the clone would not be the Son of God, and would certainly be able to die.
Of course we’re getting into the old debate about whether Christ was “all man and all God,” “God-man,” or what have you.

David B. May 27, 2006 at 4:30 pm

The hypostatic union of Christ’s humanity and divinity would mean that any children He had through Mary of Magdala it would be literally another Incarnation, and the only Person of the Blessed Trinity Who became man is Jesus. There would have to four Persons of the Blessed Trinity, or Jesus would have be ‘divided’ between two bodies. Both of these are impossibilities.

Marty May 29, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Good Lord!
What a hilarious and well-written review.
I think it’s funny that people are so heated about a FICTIONAL book. But there are those who believe this stuff.
Like I said, ‘Good Lord.’

Tim J. May 29, 2006 at 2:19 pm

The thing about the fictional nature of the book is that Dan Brown and his supporters will talk out of both sides of their mouth about it.
They’ll talk about all the supposed “facts” presented in the book, and the minute somebody with a little knowledge calls them on their mistakes, they’ll pull out the “it’s just fiction” card.
So, it goes;
Dan Brown – “Well, “X” is a fact, and “Y”, and “Z”…”
Intelligent person – “No, actually, that’s not true at all…”
Dan Brown – “Hey! It’s only fiction (nudge, nudge – wink, wink).”

J.R. Stoodley May 29, 2006 at 3:10 pm

(say no more…)

wooga May 30, 2006 at 10:17 am

“The hypostatic union of Christ’s humanity and divinity would mean that any children He had through Mary of Magdala it would be literally another Incarnation, and the only Person of the Blessed Trinity Who became man is Jesus. There would have to four Persons of the Blessed Trinity, or Jesus would have be ‘divided’ between two bodies. Both of these are impossibilities.”
Under this view, it would be impossible for Jesus to go to the bathroom, lest he “divide” his divinity. Further, this view denies the human nature of Jesus, instead treating him as only divine (and merely ‘looked’ like a man). That denies the entire value of the resurrection, which is dependent upon Christ’s body actually _dying_. Without that death, there is no resurrection and no salvation. Given that the male does not carry the egg, I do not see how offspring of Christ (for the same reasons as a clone of Christ) would necessarily be part of the Trinity. Such a person would simply carry similar genetic code (as would anyone else in mother Mary’s family) to Jesus. Genes /= God.
And as a reminder, I think Brown is a bad writer, and I don’t buy into any of this hippie heresy junk. Aside from the historical falsehoods involved, I don’t think the blood line heresy would have been necessarily a logical impossibility.

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