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Tuesday, August 21, 2007:
"The DaVinci Code" (2006) - movie review
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Famed symbologist Professor Robert Langdon is called to the Louvre museum one night where a curator has been murdered, leaving behind a mysterious trail of symbols and clues. With his own survival at stake, Langdon, aided by the police cryptologist Sophie Neveu, unveils a series of stunning secrets hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, all leading to a covert society dedicated to guarding an ancient secret that has remained hidden for 2000 years. The pair set off on a thrilling quest through Paris, London and Scotland, collecting clues as they desperately attempt to crack the code and reveal secrets that will shake the very foundations of mankind.

I read the book by Dan Brown about 3 or 4 years ago, around the time when it first came out, partly because so many people I knew read it and loved it, and also it was creating such a stir. I don't always get pulled into the trend du jour, but this one fascinated me, mostly because it's a fictional story involving actual history (the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa, Leonardo get the idea) and it's told through a series of puzzles, which I find kinda cool. Yes, I'll agree that the story is not a masterpiece, and the author takes some liberties with his storytelling, but I was able to get past the clunky writing to just escape into the whole mystery angle, and I loved it, even in all its simplicity.
Now the movie is much more like an outline of the actual book; it would have been completely impossible to tell the full story in the two and 1/2 hours it was squeezed into, so instead the movie just gives us the basic highlights. Having read the book, and knowing there was no way all the elements could have been included in the movie, I was pretty open-minded about what I was going to see. For those who never read the book, I can only imagine they might have felt a little lost. As it is, I felt that even though it started at the beginning of the story, somehow it felt more like the middle because it happened so fast, like we are just supposed to believe that Langdon was able to easily accept that he was in danger, and he had to run from the police to save his own life, accompanied by a complete stranger who may be the key to a significant historical puzzle. Albeit a beautiful one, but a stranger all the same. Men, I tell ya.
So as the story unfolds, we are also lead to believe that the whole point of all the running and hiding and uncovering of clues is to protect a mystery that has survived several centuries: the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. The interesting part about the mystery is the intricate path that is followed to reach the end - the various historical locations, the symbols, the "clues" found in paintings and statues and the like. However the disappointing factor is that the clues are so easy a clever child could figure them out, so it's not really much of a mystery. With "Google" and the internet and the advanced methods of technology, it's a wonder that anyone has to leave the comfort of their own home to decipher the hidden messages.
Yet I couldn't help but be intrigued by the historical aspect, the involvement of actual people and locations and organizations, such as Opus Dei, an organization of the Catholic Church that emphasizes the Catholic belief that everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity. Or Leonardo Da Vinci and the belief that he hid secret messages in many of his works. The Louvre. Rosslyn Chapel. Westminster Abbey. The Holy Grail. The Priory of Sion (an actual secret society?) The sacred feminine (mythic representation of the mother goddess symbolized through images and events connected with fertility and reproduction from the earliest times).
Stuff like that fascinates me, and there's a large part of me - the part with the fanciful imagination - that wants this to be based on true events. Not being raised Catholic, or in any organized religion, it's very easy for me to suspend my beliefs and just go where the story takes me. I can understand a faithful Catholic having issues with the whole thing - no one wants to have their ideals turned upside down. For me, I am more of a spiritual person, so I can let myself get caught up in the fictious story and still pray to God and believe that any of these things could be possible. I like some of the ideas behind the book and movie, like the sacred feminine. It's a fun movie, not to be taken too seriously, but one that makes me want to travel to all the different locations, to peruse the museums and think about all the possibilities.
If you enjoy puzzles but aren't a stickler about details, if you can suspend your belief and get lost in a fantastical mystery, if you enjoy history and exploring famous places and artworks, if you like mysteries, or heck, if you're just a fan of Tom Hanks, you might just like this movie. I know I did, and for more than one of the reasons mentioned. I understand that another Dan Brown book, "Angels and Demons" will be brought to the big screen, and I have every intention of going to see it. How about you?

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  1. I loved Angels and Demons. I really enjoyed art history in school, so my inner nerd was squeeing when I read that book. LOL I definitely plan on seeing it in the theaters.

    Also for Dan's clunky righting, I read somewhere that he has ADD and that's why his chapters are so short...or something to that effect.

  2. i meant writing...not righting. LOL

  3. LOL. Hey Ames! You know, it didn't bother me. In fact, I felt a little embarrassed for not even really noticing it. But I liked it, so that's all I care about.

  4. I really enjoyed the book however the movie didn't do much for me. I really think Tom Hanks was a horrible choice for this. And his hair?! Ridiculously goofy on him. I enjoyed A&D as well, it was a lot more action packed which should make for a good movie however it was a little less believable than the Da Vinci Code.

  5. Hi Stace! I found the book to be utterly captivating. Like you, I read it when it first came out, and then gave it a re-read before I went to Paris last year. I thought it was brilliantly conceived, even if the execution was a little ponderous.

    I was less enthralled with the movie. Mainly because I think Brown's work is so full of exposition, it makes it hard for the movie to move forward. They'd do a little bit of action, change locales, and then do 20 minutes of exposition. I found it frustrating. But I loved the shots of the Louvre.

    I also really loved Angels and Demons, but have to wonder if the movie will suffer the same fate as the DaVinci Code in that it has so much exposition.

    Totally OT, have you read the Singh books yet??? What did you think??

  6. I liked the book--didn't find his characterization great, but it was a rip roaring ride. The movie was okay too. Haven't read A&D, but DH will be thrilled to hear it is a movie, he's read all Dan Brown's stuff.

  7. I loved both Angels and Demons and DaVinci Code. I have to wonder what has happened to the third Langdon book - Solomon's Keys. I saw it was supposed to be published a couple years ago and then all of a sudden nothing. Hmm.

    The movie was entertaining, but like you said, it was more of a synopsis of the book. And I totally agree with Mollie. I'm a Tom Hanks fan, but he was totally wrong for the part. They didn't ask me, though.

    I was not raised Catholic, either, however I AM a fairly conservative Christian. Both these books fly in the face of basic Christianity. I don't believe in what the books were selling, but I DO believe there are those societies, those beliefs, etc. And so many people wouldn't read them because of that, but whatever. The books were great reads and didn't do anything to change my beliefs in any way. Besides, I think it's good to challenge what we believe. Sometimes it turns out that we're wrong! LOL

  8. Hi Mollie. Actually I didn't mind Tom Hanks' hair, but I agree that he wouldn't have been my first choice.

    Welcome back MK! No, no I haven't read Singh. They are right next to the bed though. I started Candice Hern's Merry Widows cuz I'm on a historical kick, which is why I bypassed Singh. I will get to them, I promise.

    Toni, I agree, a fun trip. I want more.

    Jen, another book? I had no idea. I hope it does get released. I can't get enough of this stuff.

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