December 09, 2007

The Da Vinci Code: Is the film more polemic than the book?

By Leticia Peixoto.

United States, 2006
Running Time: 148 Minutes
Rating: PG - 13
Director: Ron Howard
Casting: Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon); Audrey Tautou (Sophie Neveu); Ian McKellen (Sir Leigh Teabing); Alfred Molina (Bishop Aringarosa)
Screenwriter: Akiva Goldsman
Producer: Brian Grazer

Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code (published in 2003) is second only to the Harry Potter series as the best-selling novel of all time, selling more than 60 millions of copies. The novel rose significant criticism about the way Dan Brown treats the Catholic Church. The story involves the secrets of a religious society hidden within the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. For some Christians it contains some negative answers. The big polemic created was due to the questioning of Jesus' divinity. Although the book says that all descriptions of arts, architecture, documents and secret rituals would be all refined, some argue that what Brown wrote is factually imprecise.

The plot of the book and also of the film is about the murder of Jacques Saunière (Jean-Pierre Marielle), custodian of the Louvre museum. Robert Langdon (Hanks), Sophie Neveu (Tatou) and Leigh Teabing (McKellen) live a series of adventures when trying to decipher the codes which answer the enigmas left by Jacques Saunière prior to his death. The history involves from traditional conservative Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei (from Latin, it means God’s work) to a secret society known as Priory of Sion, which contained numerous famous members such as Issac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

What is really compelling about Brown's work of fiction and may be worrying Catholic and Evangelical leaders is not the book's many falsehoods. The extreme dedicated topic approached in the book created this big issue, making the film a blockbuster. Some views of Christian history were buried for centuries because leaders of the early Catholic Church wanted to present one version of Jesus' life: theirs. And the movie presents the novelist's point of view in a very soft way, without positioning itself clearly.

Film director Ron Howard has come a long way to reside in the heady company of Hollywood's most elite directors. His first Academy Award for film director was in 2001 with “A Beautiful Mind”. The great revenue generated by The Da Vinci Code film has already promoted a possible sequel story: another film version based on the novel “Angels and Demons”, also by Dan Brown with Robert Langdon playing his first adventures, might be coming up.

As it is often the case, the book was far superior, especially when the book is a bestseller and an enormous expectation has risen around it. The main reason, according to some critics, is sheer mathematics. Hollywood doesn't accept scripts over 100 pages, because each page is a minute of filming. So, what about a book over 300 pages long? As a consequence, it lost some important aspects of the book, such as the sensation of adventure and the romantic atmosphere between Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu.

Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon) with his no sense hair seems to be distant from his character. Paul Bettany is almost unrecognizable and plays the menacing single minded Silas to utter perfection. Sir Ian McKellan was fantastic and really steals most scenes he appears in. He delivers a real character actor when playing. Audrey Tautou is as expected: warm.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally slow moving thriller. For those who read the book, an opportunity to delight with the Louvre and a lot of scene details. For the others, the film is a great opportunity to challenge the audience's beliefs and creeds.

Best Score - Hans Zimmer - 2006
Broadcast Film Critics AssociationBest Original Score - Hans Zimmer - 2006 Satellite AwardsBest Visual Effects - Kevin Ahern - 2006
Satellite AwardsBest Sound - Chic Ciccolini III - 2006
Satellite AwardsBest Art Direction - Contemporary Film - Allan Cameron - 2006 Art Directors Guild
Read more:
More reviews:

No comments: