Saturday, May 20, 2006


Friday Movie Review (late)

Went to see The Da Vinci Code. It was ultimately silly, not that convincing and too confused with non-threatening conspiratorial elements that went nowhere to be satisfying in the whole. It's about the Grail, the Holy Grrrrrrail, as Cleese pronounces it. Spoiler coming. Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus and had a child whose bloodline down to the present has been the source of a war between part of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, which wants to keep that part of the story a secret, and the Templars who have pledged to defend the Wife of God and her tomb and progeny (actually mainly defend the tomb). The Church tries to kill Jesus' and Mary's descendents; the Templars and some council (which from time to time gets to hold ritual orgies) defend them. The knowledge that Jesus was married and had a child (a girl Sarah) is the grail. Da Vinci somehow knew it and put it in code in the Last Supper fresco (why, we're not entirely sure).

What a crock! Anyway, let's presume it's true, just for a second or two. In a way similar to the scientist in Help saying, "With this ring, I could, dare I say it, rule the world," someone in The Da Vinci Code (Hanks or McKellen, I can't recall) said that knowledge that Jesus was married and had a child would, dare he say it, cause a complete collapse of faith in the Church, and life as we know it would end. What a double crock!

Here is part of Catholic catechism 464:

The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.

So, if, during the time he was true man (which was all the time between his birth and crucifixion), Jesus married and had a child, he was doing just what most men do. It takes not a whit away from his complete divinity nor, I think, does it confer anything on his descendents, hypothetically thinking. The Church would no more collapse from this revelation than the Basilica of Saint Peter would collapse from a hail storm.

OK, so except that the central tenant is completely stupid and based on the, to me, laughable proposition that, if it were true, anything would change, this was an OK movie. Oh, except that the acting was less than inspired, in fact kind of lethargic or just plain miscast. Hanks, who's not getting any better looking as he ages, was nice but pretty much nothing was going on. Paul Bettany, whom I have liked in other movies, couldn't pronounce Church Latin convincingly and his attempt at a Spanish accent accident was almost an insult. Kind of liked the self flagellation, though, but that's probably just me. Ms. Tautou, who remains very pretty, was with Hanks in putting out a 40 watt performance. Even Jean Reno was fairly tame. Only Ian McKellan seems to have decided to give it a real go.

A lecture on art and Church history and the paintings of Leonardo would have been more satisfying. Here's an example of dumb plotting. Spoiler coming. Alfred Molina plays a shady bishop who is part of the kill the children of Jesus sect and we spend a lot of time with him and his successful attempt to get millions of dollars in bearer bonds, for some purpose never specified--I'm going to say he's on screen for 20 minutes. And he winds up--shot by accident in London by his Opus Dei operative (Bettany) with the bearer bonds nearly strewn on the ground. That's the end of his role. What? Why was that even in there? Take all his scenes out and the movie is shorter, but no worse nor any less hard to follow. Pointless, really.

Low points in faux history include: The idea that it was the Christians acting up in Rome that caused Constantine to make Rome's religion Christianity. The inclusion of Sir Isaac Newton at all. Hanks says the Church was mad at him for doing science. No it wasn't. (Maybe Galileo centuries before, maybe). Tying the witch hunting book Malleus Maleficarum into the hidden, millennia long conspiracy. The destruction of the Templars in the movie is really the destruction of French heretics, the Cathars or Albigenses. I could go on and on with boring, half remembered historical facts, but then I would merely be imitating the film.

OK, the guns. Bettany carries a Glock but then it becomes a Walther/S & W P-99 and finally an HK USP. Maybe it was a shape shifting pistol. McKellan has a S & W chief's special, in .38, but he never fires it. Apparently the police in England do get to carry guns (German guns) but they have to yell out "armed police" at least twice before they can discharge them. I think "resistance is useless" would have been more effective.

It's 2 hour 29 minutes long. If you've read the book and liked it, you might like this film or if you haven't and don't get out or know much, you might like this film, but a lot of people are, I think, going to be very disappointed.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?