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Return to 2006 Films

Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

The Da Vinci Code

A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)

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.

REVIEW: It’s difficult to imagine there’s anyone who hasn’t heard about Dan Brown’s phenomenally successful best seller. It has certainly become an industry unto itself, spawning countless books, articles, lectures, and television shows. Recently, both the History Channel and the Discovery Channel were airing their Da Vinci investigations at the same time! I read the novel three years ago, and thought it was a enjoyable read, once I got over its totally unfounded theological presuppositions. Now we have the next chapter in the phenomenon: The Da Vinci Code: The movie.The novel was transferred to the screen by the Oscar winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man: producer Brian Grazer, director Ron Howard, and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. I wondered how they could make a movie of the novel so many people had read. Focus on the suspense? The religious angle? Conspiracy theories? The controversy? A related issue was the response of the Catholic Church (or other Christian Churches). How would they react? Boycotts, pickets, or discussion groups?I don’t think the Church has much to fear from the movie. It just doesn’t make much of an impression. The shock value of Brown’s theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child has long since worn off. The movie includes lots of long diatribes about Church history, art, codes, cults, French police work, Opus Dei, and the Holy Grail, to name a few. The film bogs down in all the details of the heavy plot. If nothing else, the novel was a page-turner, but there’s surprisingly little suspense on screen. Howard even uses the odd device of brief sepia-toned flashbacks to the life of Jesus, the Council of Nicea, (to my knowledge, a cinematic first!) the Crusades, and even the funeral of Sir Isaac Newton. Halfway through the film, I recalled one of the best pieces of advice I ever received in a preaching class: Keep it simple!

Another drawback is The Da Vinci Code’s total absence of humor. Even Hamlet had comic relief! Instead we are treated to scenes of the naked albino Opus Dei assassin flagellating himself. (A caution: despite its PG-13 rating, the film is very violent.) Tom Hanks is certainly one of our best actors. No doubt Grazer and Howard were thrilled to sign him to play Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Unfortunately, Hanks has little opportunity to exercise his fine acting skills. There is no chemistry between him and French actress Audrey Tatou. Ms. Tatou’s English line readings are so awkward I think she would have been better served to speak in French, with subtitles. Only the great British actor Sir Ian McKellen seems to relish his part as a Grail expert.

Despite all the controversy surrounding it, there have been no major protests surrounding the release of The Da Vinci Code. I understand that some churches asked their congregants not to see the film. But there has been no picketing of theatres, nor letters to editors. (Compare this to the reception of The Last Temptation of Christ, a much more substantial film on a similar topic.) Even though Da Vinci is a hit in its first weeks, the flatness of the film is its own worst enemy. Where pickets and organized campaigns could backfire, bad word of mouth is box office poison.

I’ve talked to several people who have seen the film, and most have had the same reaction: a shrug of the shoulders. Even though The Da Vinci Code has done very well in its first couple of weeks of release, I think it will be forgotten long before the summer is over.

Tom Condon, OP

Why does the DaVinci Code remain popular? America Magazine offers 8 Reasons

MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references and sexual content.

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O -- morally offensive.

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