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Posts published in “Columnists – Where the Sidewalk Ends”

DaVinci Code provides Fabulous Film Thrills

The basic plot of “The Da Vinci Code” is pretty well known by now. A bizarre murder in the Louvre sends symbology professor Robert Langdon (Tim Hanks) and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) on a quest for the Holy Grail as well as evidence of Langdon’s innocence. Aided by a Holy Grail expert (Ian McKellen) the duo manages to outwit the police, led by actor Jean Reno. Meanwhile, an albino monk played by Paul Bettany is on a Grail quest of his own at the behest of an Opus Dei leader.
“The Da Vinci Code” is one of the best thrillers I have seen on film in a long time. It is well-paced, with rich story-telling aided by great directing and the perfect cast.
However, it is the assertions in the story that Jesus was a man, not the Son of God, and that he married Mary Magdelene and fathered a child, that has garnered the most interest. For most viewers, their rating of “Da Vinci Code” will be based more on their opinion of the story’s merits rather than on how well that story was made into a movie. I find it interesting that somehow when the religious claims are made on the big screen rather than on the pages of a book, they become more important.
I read the book in the span of two days about a year ago. The suspense grabbed me from page one, but the story began to drag near the end. However, in the movie version director Ron Howard keeps the plot moving.
I read the hardcover version of the book that was accompanied by photos of the places and artwork mentioned. As a result, the movie is much like I imagined the story.
Howard did an excellent job of keeping the plot moving at a gripping pace while still providing the history lessons and character development necessary to make this a great and easy to understand film. Often in the movie, scenes in the present were overlayed with ghost-like images of the past. Quick flashbacks provided other background info.
I watched the movie with three other people. None of them had read the book and all were able to follow the story easily. Sure, certain details about symbols were left out. But the movie is two-and-a-half hours long as is; some things have to be left out.
I was surprised by how nudity was dealt with in the film. The murdered man is found naked in a spread eagle position. A creative use of light is used to hide the man’s genitalia in what I considered a great touch. But later we see the albino monk flogging himself while naked and are given a very long shot of his naked behind. My companions and I all agreed we could have done without that.
“The Da Vinci Code” is rated PG-13 for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references and sexual content.
I give it an A+