Monday, June 05, 2006

Film: The Da Vinci Code

The other night Cori and I watched The Da Vinci Code at the local cinema. I will write in a moment what I thought about the movie and how it compared to the book, but first I want to focus on something peculiar that I noticed as we entered the cinema itself.

Behind the ticket booth, as in any cinema, the various posters of all currently showing films were displayed. It was quite strange to see the following, large warning sign pasted across the poster for The Da Vinci Code: “Special warning: content not taken in the fictional context might disturb religiously sensitive viewers”. The word ‘fictional’ was underlined. I looked at what other movies were on show: Mission Impossible 3, The Hills Have Eyes, and The X Men. Strangely, these posters had no large warning signs, despite their content of violence and sex. I found it quite bizarre that media content glorifying violence, degrading sex and entrenching stereotypes is easily tolerated, but media content that slightly upsets our religious beliefs is suddenly adorned with ‘special’ warning signs.

Anyway, we bought our tickets and went in to watch. The reaction of the audience was also quite interesting. As the movie progressed there was some uncomfortable laughter, some low whistles of disapproval, and even some sporadic clapping as the major claims of the story regarding Jesus were revealed.

What did I think of the movie? Well, I read the book in 2004 and really thought it was a well worked story, with quick pace and clever twists in the plot. I found that the movie was just as enjoyable. If you are looking for a movie with Oscar potential, historical truth and extensive character development, this movie is NOT for you. This is a fun thriller, and despite all the negative reviews, I enjoyed it.

There was one thing that I noticed that might have differed from the book. In the movie, the main character, Robert Langdon, suffers from claustrophobia – the result of a childhood experience of falling into a well. I honestly can’t remember if this appeared in the book (please correct me if it did). I also can’t remember if Langdon’s monologue at the end of the movie – where he recounts the story of the well, how he had prayed to Jesus to save him, and how Jesus was real to him personally – actually appeared in the book. If it was not in the book, I wonder if it was intentionally worked into the movie to placate conservative Christians who had just gone through two and a half hours of what they would regard as blasphemy.

What are your thoughts?


Marc said...

It's just a story...good grief!!

Kevin Parry said...

I agree with you marc. I also don't really understand what all the fuss is about. It's obviously not supposed to be historically accurate.

I personally believe that Dan Brown, and the producers of this film, owe much to all the free publicity created by the church regarding the Da Vinci Code. If the church didn't make such a fuss, Dan Brown's book would have just been another obscure thriller, and would have been forgotten within a year of being published.

All the best

Simon said...

I don't remember that being in the book.

The warning is hillarious.

Casey Kochmer said...

I agree kevin, I felt they did it to appease the liberal christians. even with that scene that movie is going to upset any conservative christian.

The funny thing is I don't believe they needed to throw it in, as just the last line he says to her: what matters is if you have faith in yourself...(or something to that effect) and in that he didnt have to be stuck in a well to justify saying it... So I thought it was a bit heavy handed in that.

I enjoyed the movie. I thought the way they mixed in true facts of the bloody history of the church, to the historical fiction of the story was really what upset the Vatican more than the fictional aspects of the movie. And the call at the end of the movie to make the church more human.. The message saying religion and the church should be about family and love not god. was great :)

marc said...

Is there anything that doesn't upset a conservative christian:¬)

Dar said...

My theater had protesters carrying signs that read "DaVinci Code is a Lie" and bible versus that I can't remember now. Oddly though, they were not there on 6/6/06 when I went to see (the remake of) The Omen. Does that make the story of Damien, spawn of Satan, true?

Trying to boycott a film or book ALWAYS makes the material all the more appealing. Perhaps the fundies forgot how rich and famous they made J.K. Rowling while protesting Harry Potter?

Casey Kochmer said...

Marc- good point :)

DaBich said...

I'm a fallen away Catholic and I LOVED this movie. It's fiction at it's enjoyable best :) I also want to read the book now, because we all know the book is almost ALWAYS better than the movie.

Stephanie said...

My husband and I went to see the movie and enjoyed it. While we were waiting in line, a person behind us kept saying "why would anyone go and see DaVinci Code....don't they know it is all fiction?" They repeated this very loudly a few times. It took all of my resolve to keep myself from turning around and telling him the movie he planned to see was fiction too! I really didn't want to have an argument with this person...I just wanted to enjoy my date night with my husband :) I just wonder if some people actually hear what they are saying sometimes.

wflooter480 said...

I hated, and I mean HATED the book. I thought it was a horribly written book. There was little, if any, character developement and I could have cared less about the people keeling over. I thought the verbage was poor and the integration of "historical" "facts" was text book and boring. While I thought the idea was kind of cool, I thought that the book was cheap and totally pooped out to be on the NYTimes bestselling list. So I refuse to see the movie, although I am positive it is better than the book. If you have not read it, I would just recommend watching the movie. It read like you wanted to see it as a movie anyways. I refuse to see the movie because of all the hype. I think the church and the production/marketing company, whoever it is, Sony I think, are in cahoots.

I actually read the book during a period of my life I am not particularly proud of...I was a die hard Christian. Got baptized when I was 20 and was massively into it for about 4 years. I then realized the error of my ways and quickly parted ways with the church and god. I haven't gone to church in over a year, and probably wasn't even a x-ian for about 6 months before that. And I've never been happier. =)

Roger Saner said...

Part of the best advertising for the movie was the church's over-reaction to it, as if millions of people suddenly enlightened by Dan Brown would spontaneously leave the church and go do something else. However, the best reaction to the movie was from Opus Dei themselves, who didn't order their followers not to see it and have had numerous requests from people interested in joining them...go figure!

I enjoyed the book, but the book is better than the movie. I wouldn't actually recommend the movie to anyone on its own merits. Especially with Tom Hanks dodgy hairstyle and his lack of charisma. He's been taking acting lessons from Keanu Reeves...*sigh*

Marc, I'm sure there are things that don't upset conservative Christians (maybe X Men 3?!)...but if you find out what they are, please let me know ;) It's easier to find points of disagreement than the positive often (which is more the consequence of lazy thinking hidden behind the guise of theological correctness). What I find ironic is this post which references studies that consistently show that evangelical Christians (read: those who were vociferously protesting against The Da Vinci Code) aren't different from those who they're meant to be better than:
"The heart of the matter is the scandalous failure to live what we preach. The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world."

Kevin, I think Langdon's claustrophobia thing was in the book, although I don't think the "Jesus" part of that was. I think the movie makers tried to soften the "impact" of the book a bit, too. Disappointing.

In terms of the people protesting against the movie etc etc, your points are well taken, especially given the release of The Omen recently. The observation is, of course, the highly apparent discontinuity between Christians who protest against things which threaten their own existence under the guise of "being moral" and then not protest against immoral things (The Omen?) because...?

Anyway, as Christian myself I saw all of these protests coming...*yawn*...and have studiously ignored most attempts to prove the Da Vinci Code a load of hogwash. Anyone spending 10 minutes online knows Marc said, "It's just a story!" If you want a good grail quest story, rather watch Monty Python's "Quest for the Holy Grail." Much better!

IAN said...

maybe you should start a campaign against the sex and violence etc. I want you to know that there is an organisation called the "Jesus Project" which is engaged in a procedure of enforcing age restrictions and putting better control on the media including cinemas etc.