Thursday, June 01, 2006

My experience at the movie

I came away from The DaVinci Code, the movie, thinking to myself: This movie is more deceptive than the book.

Some of you who braved it, saw the movie and probably came away thinking it was much to-do about nothing. Perhaps you got caught up in the story and didn’t keep your “filters” on to evaluate what you saw and heard. I suppose some of you found the whole 2 hours and 29 minutes as somewhat boring.

I didn’t!

Just like the book, for me the story line was captivating. For conspiracy theorists, the movie (and the book) was the epitome of conspiracy theories. A corrupt and power hungry Catholic Church determined to keep a world-changing secret to the extent that murder and mayhem was common place. A beautiful “descendant” of Jesus and a researcher (Tom Hank’s character) who did his best to keep his head while assenting to the reality of the historian’s dilemma.

That’s where the rub came in for me! The movie toned down some of the blatant anti-Christian and anti-Catholic rhetoric, but the sentiments were there nonetheless. Robert Langdon’s responses to Teabing’s assertions were weak and half-hearted attempts to tone down the language, but at best he sounded like a member of the Jesus Seminar. His weak protests as Teabing unraveled his story hardly satisfied the viewer with questions. In fact, they were so weak they made Teabing’s arguments sound all the more reasonable. That’s deceptive. Langdon, a symbologist and ersatz historian, would have had knowledge that raised stronger objections than presented. Why even liberal scholar Bart Ehrman did better than that!

I don’t want to overplay this, but I did hear people talking about the movie as I came out of the theater. Their questions and the discussions I overheard indicated they had some real questions about the history of the church. Without someone to help them, it will be easy for them to come to the wrong conclusions. After all, Brown, who was involved in the movie’s production, still maintains that much of what he wrote is based on fact. In fact, there are lines in the movie that acknowledges and anticipates the attacks on the movie and book by biblical and historical scholars. That makes it even more deceptive as well.

Let’s consider that for a moment. It is a fact there were finds at Nag Hammadi, but they weren’t exactly what Brown said they were. Opus Dei does exist, but it isn’t what he said it was. The Templars were a monastic order formed during the Crusades, but they didn’t do what he said they did. The Gnostic gospels do exist, but they don’t portray the Jesus he says they do. There really was a Priory of Sion, but it wasn’t formed when he said it was and there is no evidence to the contrary. The French police do exist, but given their track record, I doubt they are as aggressive as those portrayed in the book and the movie. There really is a glass pyramid at the Louvre, but the number of glass panes is off in Brown’s book. The paintings he describes exist, too, but there are some important size differences as well as other qualities that he twists for his own purposes. Fact! Well, yes, if a half-truth (no, an eighth-truth) is fact then I suppose you could say that. But a half-truth told with the intent to deceive is still a lie!