Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Da Vinci Dud

It's happened. The Da Vinci Code movie is out, and it looks like a big, expensive turkey. Deo gratias.

For weeks now, the Catholic blogosphere has been all atwitter over the impending release of The Da Vinci Code. Sony Pictures waited until the last possible second to let critics see the film, and apparently for good reason. The early reviews are in, and for the most part, they are scathing. The consensus seems to be that it's too long, too talky, and too dull, with too little action and too little chemistry between the male and female leads, Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou. It could still make a gazillion dollars despite lousy reviews because all the shills and morons who loved the book will just have to see the movie. No accounting for taste, eh? I should perhaps add that I myself have neither read the book nor seen the movie and have no plans to do so. The details of both the book and the movie are all over the internet and TV, so I don't have to waste my time actually reading or seeing this drivel.

I don't suppose we should be too surprised that the movie is a dog, given the source material that director Ron Howard had to work with. In an article published two years ago on the Salon website, Laura Miller called the novel:

a cheesy thriller, with all the familiar qualities of the genre at its worst: characters so thin they're practically transparent, ludicrous dialogue, and prose that's 100 percent cliché. Even by conventional thriller standards, the book isn't particularly good; the plot is simply one long chase sequence, and the "good guy who turns out to be evil" is obviously a ringer from the moment he's introduced.

The film is, of course, an adaptation of Dan Brown's execrable novel of the same name that's been at or near the top of the bestseller lists for about three years now. The novel alleges that Jesus was a man, not a god, that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children, that Jesus wanted Mary Magdalene, not Peter, to be the head of of the "Jesus movement," that the Roman emperor Constantine cooked up the idea of Jesus's divinity at the Council of Nicaea to shore up imperial power, and that the Big Bad Band of Meanies, the Catholic Church, and its goon squad, the organization called Opus Dei, were created essentially to stomp on anybody who disagreed.

A secret society of intrepid souls, however, known as The Priory of Sion, founded in 1099, and headed at one point by Leonardo Da Vinci, preserved The Real Truth about Christianity and tried to communicate The Real Truth by means of ingenious clues hidden in art and architecture. Brown further asserts that all of the charges made in this book are based on fact and can be discovered by any careful scholar--such as himself. However, as Laura Miller points out in that same Salon article, most of Brown's "painstaking research" appears to be cribbed from a nonfiction book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail that made many of the same claims. The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail actually sued Dan Brown for plaigarism in England. The judge ruled in Brown's favor, but made it clear he had contempt for both sides.

Brown's little pile of poppycock has sold about 40 million copies worldwide despite the fact that both secular and religious sources (Catholic and Protestant alike) have conclusively demonstrated that all the claims Brown makes about Jesus, the gospels, and the early church are patently false. The Da Vinci Code is hooey, pure and simple--not just hooey, but badly written hooey to boot. Now the badly written hooey has been translated into a badly written movie. One can only hope that once people can see all this idiocy on the screen in glorious living color, they'll stop and wonder how they were stupid enough to fall for it in the first place.

P. S. Hat Tips to Dawn Eden for the link to Rotten, Amy Welborn's blog for the link to the Salon article, her regular Open Book blog for the link to the article by Gary M. Burge, and Clayton Emmer for the link to this fine article by Father Joseph Carola, S. J.

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