Friday, May 19, 2006

Da Vinci Day: Is it worth all the hype?

A steady queue had formed by the time I'd reached the cinema and it was only 10.45 in the morning.

They were all waiting to watch Ron Howard's film based on Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, and as readers to this blog will know, I had to be there given my past brushes with this story that just won't go away.

Its hard to believe that for the last 2,000 years, we haven't really been told the 'gospel' truth about the life of Christ, yet its this theory that both the book and the film are based on. Basically we are told that Jesus was no more divine than you or I and in fact, he was a family man too.

The idea basically goes that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and before his death, he fathered a child called Sarah. After his demise, Mother and Child were whisked away from danger and they ended up in France where the bloodline of Christ was sustained and remains to this day. Now you won't read this in your Bibles because according to Brown, the Church has waged war against this 'truth' and purposefully erased it from history, presumably starting with Sunday School.

So the film (and book) allows us to evesdrop on Robert Langdon who finds himself caught up in-between this power struggle involving a ultra-strict Catholic organisation called 'Opus Dei' (Works of God) and the so-called 'Priory of Sion' who have supposedly managed to avoid the church and keep the secret (and Mary's body) safe, ready for the day when its safe to come out.

The story is helped along by the inclusion of corrupt Bishops, eccentric historians who know far too much about tea and a murderous monk, all setting the stage for a treasure hunt which threatens to challenge the oldest institution on the face of the planet.

Now before I go on, I can hear you asking: "Where does Leonardo Da Vinci fit in with all of this?" Well, if you believe the earth shattering documents which were conveniently found in the 1950's, he was a leader of this secret society, entrusted to keep the truth safe and its profile low, but in what could be considered the worst example of secrecy he decided instead to 'encode' the secrets in his paintings. Basically, if you have a secret then I wouldn't tell Leonardo!

Now I hope your all keeping up with this. If you are struggling then please spare a thought for little old me because thats how I felt during this 150 minute film. I'd read the book so maybe I did know what was coming next but I still found it tough going and this feeling was largely compounded by the fact that I've visited some of the so-called mysterious locations myself.

There's nothing particularly wrong with the film but like the book, the idea that its built on is far more interesting than the story itself. We are treated to some great shots of some great places and thanks to the large cinema screen, the massive churches certainly seem to come to life but unfortunately the characters don't.

I'd recommend this film to die hard Da Vincians or maybe conspiracy theory lovers but if its action or Indiana Jones that your looking for, then I'm afraid you wont quite feel full after chewing over this.


Trivia ***Exclusive***

As I watched the film, someone stuck out like a sore thumb! In one of the scenes where Langdon and Sophie are on a London Bus, you can see two 'passengers' who have had more than just a passing interest in Dan Brown's so-called 'fact'

Sitting there on the bus is Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince who are co-authors in crime for some of the background claims that Dan Brown sites in his work. Fact or fiction, lots of the occult and feministic theories have certainly been influenced by these two people. Maybe 2,000 years of church history should be written off but to be honest, I'd be more inclined to chuck these two from the bus first :-)

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