Sunday, May 21, 2006

DaVinci Code Movie Review

Having been taken by the New York Post to see the movie in the company of other religious types (a Sister of Mercy, a Roman Catholic Priest and a person on the street), here's my review. Its affected by several conversations with other people who saw it on opening day.

The movie has a breathless quality as we follow Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sophie Neveu (Audry Tatou) from the Louvre to the French residence of Sir Leigh Teabing (Sir Ian McKellan) to an airport in Kent, to London and Westminister Abbey (actually Lincoln Cathedral) and finally to Rossyln Chapel just south of Edinburgh.

Flashbacks show Langdon (a professor of symbology?) lecturing on symbols at Harvard, doing a book signing for a book on feminine symbols, and almost drowning in a well as a child. Sophie's own trauma of the car crash that claimed the lives of her entire family including her brother fail to show in what ritual she saw her grandfather take part. We do see unexplained masked figures in a circle. There are flashbacks to the Council of Nicea (looking like an agitated question time in the House of Commons) and people killing each other from the early days of Christianity.

As anyone who has read the book knows, Langdon and Neveu race across Europe in the company of Teabing (a grail fanatic) to interpret codes left for them in various places by Sophie's grandfather having to do with a secret kept alive by members of the Priory of Sion, namely, that Jesus' bloodline, established through Mary Magdalene (the holy grail), lives in their descendent, Sophie herself. They are chased by a Parisian chief of police, an albino monk and a secret Roman Catholic enclave of Bishops, all members of Opus Dei, who torture and kill or simply shoot at any who might stop them from preventing the disclosure of this secret. We see the monk's murder of a sister at the church of Saint-Sulpice because she attempts to contact members of the Priory during his visit to the church. We see his self-flagellation and use of the celice on more than one occasion. Teabing murders his former butler. In the end, the chief of police realizes that he has been lied to and used by one of the Bishops and he turns on his former allies, freeing Langdon and Sophie for their last journey to Rosslyn.

Sr. D'Arienza (in the NY Post) noted the film's unrelieved brutality and compared it to "The Passion of the Christ" in this regard. I agree. Teabing, the chief of police, the monk, and Bishops of Opus Dei (how they are described in the film) are fanatics whether religious or not. Early Christianity is described as a series of power struggles and wars mirrored in the present. Mary Magdalene escapes from the crucifixion scene and flees to France to preserve her life and child. Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu look askance at the brutality on both sides.

I would like to think that religious traditions are open to intelligent debate and discussion about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and human sexuality but the only Christians in the movie are religious fanatics.

1 comment:

Rev Dr Mom said...

Isn't that so often the case--the Christians who attract media attention are usually fanatics? And those who object to DVC the most at least border on being fanatic.

As for the brutality, that is something I hadn't noticed as much, but I think it is right on.

Overall, I thought the movie was a little boring. I generally like it when a movie is close to the book, and DVC was, but it couldn't pick up the subtleties of the backstory which make the story more interesting in the book. And I agree with the reviewers who thought Tom Hanks was not well cast as Robert Langdon.