Friday, May 19, 2006

MY "DA VINCI CODE" MOVIE PRE-REVIEW

Have any of you seen “The Da Vinci Code” movie yet? I haven't, but I am excited about it because I enjoyed the book by Dan Brown. Apparently there are all kinds of distresses being caused to religious groups by the release of the film, and some non-religious types are getting stressed as well.

I read Brown's book, and I also read Michael Baigent, Henry Lincoln, and Richard Leigh’s “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”(its authors are the ones who were suing Brown for taking their ideas). I found "The DaVinci Code" to be a thrilling page-turner. I thought the other work, which attempted to be more scholarly, was fairly dry... but when I read it in small doses of 10-20 pages at a time, I found it quite fascinating. I have also read the Bible all the way through more than once, and I have read the New Testament five or six times, with most of my attention devoted to the Gospel. I believe in science and hard evidence more than I believe in things I can’t see or which can’t be proven by scientific methods, so while I have a lot of doubts about whether or not Jesus was divine or performed miracles, I also have to say that in amongst all the questionable things there are many good words of wisdom in the “good book”. So, I guess you could say I’m more or less an agnostic. Not a lot of magical thinking here when it comes to matters spiritual.

I think it will be fun to see what happens with the release of “The Da Vinci Code”. If the “reviews” of it at http://www.msn.com/ are any indication, there will be a number of Christian fundamentalists who dismiss it out of hand or become upset by its mere existence without having bothered to see the film (kind of like with “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Life Of Brian”). There will also be a lot of open-minded Christians who will say “What’s the big deal?” or “What’s wrong with questioning Christianity?” I was always told in church that the best way to grow in your faith was to question it and find the answers you seek. A lot of the rest of us will say things like “B.F.D. Let ‘em whine!” I think the fundamentalists should ignore “Da Vinci Code” the way many of the rest of us didn’t pay much heed to “The Passion of the Christ”. I would say that just about all of those “reviews” at msn.com, written about the film before it has actually been viewed, appear to be merely the writings of insecure individuals staking out their opinions in regard to their religious or non-religious beliefs.

Why should there be such a furor among members of the religious community over the release of this movie? If they know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and as the Son of God, then why are they concerned about a movie which depicts things that might have happened due to Jesus having a human side? Certainly he did many things humans did at the time. I would imagine he ate, slept, urinated, defecated, and possibly even (gasp!) had sex!! Maybe he married, maybe not… but as marriage is not a sin, I see no reason why he might not have behaved according to the customs of his time, i.e. married a woman, and had kids with her. Why should that threaten his status in believers’ minds as the Son of God? Whether or not he was married should not have anything to do with what he said when he gave the Sermon on the Mount, should it? Whether or not he was married should not have anything to do with an ability to perform miracles, should it? Would God have kept Jesus from being resurrected simply because he had been married and had children? I guess I just don’t get it. Why such a fuss?

By the same token, I don’t believe that atheists, skeptics and agnostics need to go around rejoicing because of the release of “The Da Vinci Code” in movie form. Dan Brown’s book is a work of fiction, after all. His story proves nothing, and it doesn’t disprove Christianity. It offers a possibility, nothing more, nothing less. As one of my mottos is the one of the militant agnostic, “I don’t know and you don’t either!” I think the whole idea behind “The Da Vinci Code”, in whatever form, is simply to stimulate thought, and to play “what if”. Is there really any way to tell what happened two thousand years ago? How many of us were there to see what was happening? I believe Jesus was there, but I’m not sure how much of the Bible I believe. I think it’s that kind of “what if” approach to life that ultimately makes it more interesting than it would be if everyone thought, believed and acted the same as everybody else.

Here’s to lots and lots of us asking questions, seeking knowledge, learning new things, examining various points of view, and to all of us combining these things to create an atmosphere for personal growth for everybody.

Let’s go to the movies! Because I liked the book so much, I hope "The Da Vinci Code" is a good film. I don't want to have to write a blog entry telling everyone to save their money and wait for the movie to come out on DVD!

14 Comments:

Blogger RC said...

thoughtful and balanced pre-review...

i think it is acceptable for Christians to be annoyed with the da vinci code if in their hearts (especially if seeing the film) the disgrace with which Jesus and God are handled bothers them...

it would be a similar feeling as hearing the Lord's name used in vein...

but i agree that there is too much "campaigning" for this or that viewpoint.

It seems oh so misfocused.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

3:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

I agree the book was a real page-turner. And since it was clearly labeled "Fiction" I don't know why the Bible types are so upset about it (well, yes I do). The movie has gotten poor reviews so far, but I still want to see it. The movie is almost never as good as the book, and since almost everyone on the planet as read the book, that might be why it's getting bad reviews.

6:39 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

The thing I find interesting is how the volume of book sales seems to color the whole debate. For example, the Catholic Church has always recognized this was a work of fiction. But after 40 million copies were sold they began treating it as a work of heresy. And (as usual) providing loads of free publicity...

7:24 PM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I have virtually zero interest in either the book or the movie, in much the same way I have virtually zero interest in "The Passion of the Christ". There is, however, one notable difference in my opinion of the two movies. I think "The Passion of the Christ" is, by far, the greater sacrilege. I used to be a Christian, and was raised as such, and I feel that movie somehow cheapens their beliefs and the Biblical accounts of Christ's life. Had Jesus not lived as he did in their theology, his death would've been that of a common thug and with as much significance. In short, in memory of my lost faith, I find "The Passion of the Christ" far more offensive. This, on the other hand, is fiction and should be treated as such.

6:14 AM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

MC-are you saying the Passion movie was bad because it focused exclusively on his torment and execution and not the rest of his life?

8:45 AM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Right before I left on my trip my friend Arjun in India sent me his review of the Da Vinci code. He thought it was badly written and didn't say anything new.

Then on the airplane this guy sitting across the isle from me was reading it.

Who's publishing it? I want stock in their company!!! :-)

10:36 AM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Marquis, that pretty much sums up my stance on it. People died by crucifixion by the score back in ancient Rome, most of them murderers and as bad, if not worse. Let's assume that the person upon whom Christianity was eventually (loosely) based was a rabbi who preached many of the non-miraculous aspects of the New Testament, a reasonable assumption if you accept as fact that he actually existed. Just because one rabbi died by crucifixion doesn't mean that this was the most significant part of his life; rather, his death would have had little or no meaning had he not been so well-respected by his adherents.

I have no interest in seeing "The Da Vinci Code", but not because I find the premise offensive. I simply found what little of the book I could stomach poorly written and believe the movie would probably be worse. "The Passion of the Christ", on the other hand, actually attempted to be quasihistorical and focused on perhaps the least meaningful moments of one man's life. Call it contrarianism, or iconoclasm, or whatever, but it's the way I think, and it's one of the aspects of my personality that has not changed except in its depth all that much in the last 15 years or more.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Thanks for the comments, all!

In our local newspaper, there is a daily theater ad that lists the movies and times they are being shown. "The Da Vinci Code" is currently here in La Grande. Last night as I read the paper, I burst into laughter. Kit asked me what was so funny. Right next to the theater ad was one from a fundamentalist church urging people to attend a broadcast-via-satellite program entitled something like "Breaking the Da Vinci Code", and the speakers were Revs. Somebody-Or-Other and Who-zit. Heh... Let's not get too freaked out here... !

Quality of writing? In my opinion, "The Da Vinci Code" demonstrated o.k. writing skills. Brown knows how to write a bestseller. I think to say his book was poorly written might be a bit much, considering how many copies it has sold. Saying it is a poorly-written book is like me, a very small-time musician, saying the latest album by a popular group features poor songwriting or lousy performances. That group's work has been published/recorded, and mine hasn't.

I will like their work or I won't like it, but for me to say it is poorly done could be suggesting I think I might be able to do it better. I could have taken the same subject Brown did, written an extremely horrifyingly bad and disorganized novel, and it would not have sold more than a handful of copies... because I don't know the first thing about writing a novel, let alone getting it published. "The Da Vinci Code" was written well enough to be a huge seller, and was not (and is not) being read solely by people who mainly like the turn-your-brain-off stuff. If you are a reader who tends to like things written in a more intellectual manner, you're undoubtedly in good company if you have also read "The Da Vinci Code".

I tend to read for entertainment and escape, and if I don't like the writing style, I still read the book if I like the plot or if there is something in it that stimulates thoughts. Thus, I actually read and enjoy stuff by Clive Cussler or Robert Ludlum, for example, for the sake of their plots and their flights of fancy... same reason I like sci-fi and mysteries. I also like an occasional classic or piece of modern "literature" for the wordcraft. If reading is all work and no play, it can become a very dull thing.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Howard Davis said...

I'm not a Christian and I didn't read the book. I want to see the movie because of the religious protests. Whenever those folks get all worked up, there must be something worth viewing in it.

5:08 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

The book sucked, but I have high expectations for the movie.
If it ticks off the Satanic church of Rome all the better ;)

10:29 PM  
Blogger Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Not necessarily, Howard. Do you remember the early 1990s with the group 2 Live Crew? A bunch of family groups, Christian churches, and Senators' wives got all worked up about it, and yet they had sold very poorly until then because they sucked. They only went platinum because of the controversy and would not have even gone gold otherwise, and the only hit song they had was the one that drew the heat: "Me So Horny".

6:50 AM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Hey Paul,

My friend Arjun also disliked the book. This morning this lady at the hostel was saying how she adored it.

I think I will give it a miss. Something this talked about can't be worth worrying with.

9:12 AM  
Blogger GTX said...

All I have to say about this perfect marriage, this sublime symbiosis, this marvellous world we live on, this another mysterious situation is:
"Let's dance" (David Bowie)

9:12 AM  
Blogger GTX said...

I found Umberto Echo's "The name of the rose" far more well written.

6:09 AM  

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