The Da Vinci Code. Shall we discuss? (Spoilers)

Just got back from the movie and I got pretty much what I expected. I read the book in anticipation of the movie, figured everyone and their brother had read it so I might as well so I can discuss it when the movie popped. I found the book to be entertaining for what it was, which is a poorly written mystery caper. Nothing earth shattering in there and the execution was flawed, but if you don’t think about it too much it’s a decent diversion.

The movie was basically a direct translation of the book, compared to most other adaptations of course, and as a result it suffered from many of the same shortcomings. A movie because of the time constraint probably comes across even worse since the somewhat simplistic “revelations” of the mystery hit you in quick succession without building your curiosity and anticipation.

I thought Ron Howard dropped the ball several times in his direction. Many of the reveals were too random and he didn’t convince me any were natural. The clearest example is in the scene where Langdon discovers the riddle under the rose on the cryptic box. In the book, IIRC, it’s described that he’s absentmindedly handling the box as the study the cryptic. He accidentally feels the holes on the inside of the lid which leads him to poke a pen in there. This seemed pretty natural, any normal person could have made that leap, but in the movie Howard simply had him grab the box and poke a pen in there as if he suddenly knew that the “under the rose” line had a double meaning. Depicting it in the former way would have been more realistic and might have given the audience a chance to puzzle it out themselves while he studied the box.

As I was watching it I got the feeling that a person who hadn’t read the book might be confused by the movie. It played as a literal translation of the key scenes in the book with the interplay between the characters and much of the mood edited out. I thought that’d give a viewer without a previous knowledge of the story too little background to appreciate the point of the quest. Certain it seems that people who read the book get more from the movie than those who didn’t, which ironically tends to be the opposite of most books adapted into movies.

All in all, I didn’t expect much and I got just what I expected. Didn’t hate it but I’m as “meh” on the movie as I was on the book.

That’s not a mole, it’s the dried blood over the nick from when Silas held the knife at Sophie’s throat in the Temple Church. It’s shaped like a V because the point of a knife is shaped like a V, obviously. I suppose one could presume that the director intentionally made it apparent to be indicative of the chalice/blade symbol but I’d guess it’s just an attempt at continuity.

Couple more thoughts:

I really disliked the casting of Silas. He was one of the most interesting characters in the book. He had a very menacing and mysterious quality about him and the way they revealed why he is the way he is was somewhat compelling. Frankly it’s one of the few things I though Dan Brown did especially well in the book.

I like the actor they chose, Paul Bettany was excellent in Master and Commander and A Beautiful Mind, but he was all wrong for this role. His acting wasn’t really flawed but he just doesn’t have the look of a menacing guy. I had mentally pictured Silas as a big, hard-faced thug who did his crimes virtually without expression. Bettany is too thin, attractive and clean-cut to give off that menacing quality the character possessed.

Next, I thought the movie tried too hard to squeeze everything in from the book. Usually I’m a more-is-better kind of guy when it comes to adaptations of books. In this case however the flashbacks Howard used seemed too fragmented and didn’t tell the viewer much unless they knew the expanded version told in the book. They felt like the kind of detail better left for an extended DVD version. As it was filmed the entire relationship between Silas and Aringarosa was tenuous at best and totally ruined the flow of the movie at worst. At the very least losing that aspect could have allowed more time to develop Teabing as a good-natured, generous and trusted friend of Langdon making his betrayal more unexpected and significant. It could have shown Remy as a more innocuous servant. I also might have dropped the Bezu Fache as agent of Opus Dei plotline too. Letting him simply be a dogged cop would have removed some complexity in order to better develop the primary character conflicts.

Mostly I felt that this was one of the rare cases in which being too faithful to a book and showing too much literally caused the movie to suffer. Possibly thats because this is probably one of the worst books to ever get the movie treatment and as such it’s story doesn’t hold up to the medium.

One more consecutive post to add another thought.

Upon reading some other discussions, I feel like the movie might have benefited from a narration in the beginning or better yet a text prologue in order to acquaint the viewer with some of the facts and characters. Instead of forcing dialog between characters to explain who Opus Dei is and who the secretive folks within the Vatican are they could have laid it out at the outset.

The way they kept interspersing scenes with Aringarosa and Silas and showing one-sided phone calls ruined the flow of the movie and left me wondering who the hell the “bad guy” is.

I agree with a lot of what’s already been said here- it’s a “Meh” movie at best, and you could see the plot twists and turns coming a mile away.

The acting wasn’t especially good, either- although I agree Hanks didn’t have a lot to work with.

I haven’t read the book (but I have read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, so I know the “revelations” and the basic theory behind Brown’s book), and have to say that I thought TDVC was at best, a passable Grail Quest movie (and not nearly as good as Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade as a Grail Quest movie, either!) but ultimately, it’s going to earn Brown, Hanks, and Howard unfeasible amounts of money- and the more certain religious organisations protest the film, the more unfeasibly large that sum will be.

Still, I have to say that TDVC as a film (and presumably, as a novel) was full of plot-holes you could fly a C-130H through… and was I the only one who couldn’t work out why they didn’t simply sneak around the back of the US Embassy at the start, thus solving the “The Gendarmerie are chasing us!” thing.

And did anyone else notice all these “Ancient Clues and Riddles” were written in modern English? Seems a bit odd… I would have thought Latin, or maybe French (and not necessarily Modern French!) would have been more appropriate…

I haven’t finished the book yet and not sure if I can. ( Lost interest and figured out stuff before I came in here.)

I agree entirely. When I heard he was in the film I just sagged. An interesting character ruined by miscasting. I don’t know who I would have picked for the role, but not a guy like Bettany.

Couldn’t agree more. The pacing was just abysmal. When you have to rely upon the few moments of “startle” (such as the impact of the truck into Sophie’s parent’s car) to rouse you to alertness again, something is definitely amiss. A guy 3 seats down from us was snoring–loudly—thru practically the whole movie, and from about Minute 10 into the thing. I comiserated entirely.

That being said, I think in retrospect that I found it somewhat refreshing to have Langdon’s character inject a healthy dose of skepticism into what Teabing had to say about the historical aspects of his “heresy”. In the book, the two of them are such parrots of one another that it was nauseating.


In the book they made an attempt at an explanation there. I’m not sure I remember well enough to cover it completely, but the clues were all laid by Jacques Sauniere specifically for Sophie and in her childhood he made a point of making her always speak English while at home. Practically it’s a fairly limp attempt by Dan Brown to make the English book appropriate to the setting, but in the book they don’t dismiss it entirely out of hand. It wasn’t clear to me if there was a motive for it in the book, either to make the clues tougher to solve for a non-English speaker or if there was some greater meaning for his choice of language. Perhaps another poster can remembers clearer.

For those fans of Sir Ian that said they’d pay to see him just read the phone book- you got your wish. :stuck_out_tongue:

Good casting, Ron Howard did what he could with bad material.

There is so much crap in Browns un-original ideas I can’t even start- but I will.

However, let us take the BIG IDEA. So, they have a sarcaphogus with a body. Tests will confirm the body is that of a Semitic female around 2000 years old. (C-14 will get that date, but only +/- a centrury or so). That’s nice. :dubious: DNA tests on people claiming to be her ancestors is dubious- is there any DNA to still be tested? Even if so, after 20 generations all that could be said is that “Live person X could possibly be a descendant of 2000yo female “M””. And, even if there was solid proof that the body was Mary M’s- so? :dubious: Nothing in the NT assumes that MM couldn’t or didn’t have children- the fact that they have her body doesn’t say that she had kids by JC, and that can’t be shown by any scientific tests. So, it’d be an interesting item to find a 2000 yo body that could be MM, but it wouldn’t rock the Church or the Faith (There’d be a NationalGeo special issue, a couple shows on the History channel, some articles in the paper, it’d blow over). Nothing worth 10 million Euros even, let alone killing or dying for.

Now, even if they found a copy of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene…whoops, they already did. :eek: No big deal. No huge furor. The Church said “ancient fraud”, and they were likely right.

I’m not one to defend Dan Brown, but you’re missing a pretty big part here. That detailed library of the family’s genealogy would serve to play a fairly major role in the “proof” and PR battle along with DNA. Still could be denied of course, but it’s not as flimsy a premise as you paint.

Which brings me to another critique. Both the book and movie barely pay lip-service to the question of why the Priory never came forward after all these years. They casually wonder if they were hoping to reveal it at the turn of the Millennium but they give little reason for that assumption and it’s a stretch to say that in 500 A.D. they were waiting for some magical date 1500 years away. Brown could have easily explained the waiting as by saying that until the advent of DNA testing it would have been impossible to prove and therefore too dangerous to release the information with the church being so powerful in the middle ages and before. He’s quite the crappy, lazy author.

Did anyone else notice (and I tend not to notice these things) that during the scene where Ian McKellan is making his long expository speech about what’s going on, that the light outside the window keeps changing from dark to light and to dark and then to a sort of dawn.

It seemed to be a fairly jarring continuity error.

Or maybe I have become one of those people who notice such things.

If so, may God have mercy on my soul.

I know it’s common usage. The thing is, Sir Leigh Teabing was supposed to be a scholar and an historian. I’d expect him to behave as one and to use the appropriate terminology.

But the Council of Nicea did NOT discuss the Trinity. Rather, they only discussed the Arian heresy, i.e. whether Jesus was co-eternal with the father. Not the same thing.

Besides which, Dan Brown’s claim was that the concept of Christ’s divinity was only introduced by Constantine at the Council of Nicea. That simply isn’t true, as previous writings (including the gospels themselves, I’d argue) had already affirmed his divinity. And even if they didn’t, the divinity of Jesus Christ is by no means the same as the Trinity itself.

It’s about as valid as the various geneologies of Kings that start with a God. :dubious: Until the Merovingian line, it’s just "begats’ on paper.

xxxAD and ADxxx are *both * valid.

Well, he did say " in 325…Anno Domini…" which implies that he added the “A.D” portion as an afterthought upon realizing there was a layperson in the discussion. It was clear that he would have simply left it as “in 325” in different company.

To highlight that detail as a important flaw is pedantic and nitpicky in the extreme.

Not according to Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words : A Writer’s Guide to Getting It Right.

Omniscient, I know it’s pedantic, but remember, Teabing was a scholar and an historian. One would expect him to speak as one. Besides which, even if we grant that Teabing added “Anno Domini” as an afterthought when discussing the Council of Nicea, he made the same mistake when agitatedly explaining when the church declared Mary Magdalene to be a prostitute (“591 Anno Domini,” he said). I don’t think we can explain that one away as a mere afterthought.

Are you forgetting we’re discussing the plot of a fictional work? Whether it’s provable or not is not germane to your point, as Dan Brown laid it out the crux of the story is not so simplistic as you painted it.

BTW, The Chicago Manual of Style also says that “A.D.” should go before the year mentioned, rather than after (see section 8.41). So* Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words : A Writer’s Guide to Getting It Right * is not alone in its assertion. Sadly, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is silent on this matter.

People may be confused because of expressions such as “the third century A.D.” (see 8.42, The Chicago Manual of Style). Such usage is only conventional when discussing centuries though (and presumably, millenia). It does not apply when stating the year of an event.

Another problem with Brown, despite his misleading claims to accuracy, is the fact he barely made up anything at all out of whole cloth. The one and only thing I’ve learned from Dan Brown I didn’t already know: You can steal any idea and get away with it, so long as you don’t copy word-for-word.

I didn’t think about that, but it’s one of those silly things about movies- everything is in the language that the movie is in (in this case, English), even if it takes place in a foreign country. The police officers speak English when they’re talking to one of the main characters, but speak in French to each other.

And another thing I noticed regarding corporate synergy: the monitor Teabing shows The Last Supper* on clearly says “Sony” on it, and the cell phone that Langdon and Neveu use on a London bus says “Sony Ericsson” on its screen when we first see it. Tell me, who released this movie again?

*Speaking of The Last Supper, I watched a number of shows on cable about The Da Vinci Code, and they all mentioned Teabing’s statement that the figure on Jesus’s right appears to be a woman. Looking at that painting, Jesus himself looks like a woman…it’s something about the hair. A conspiracy for The Da Vinci Code 2?

In fact that’s a French actress (albeit not a well-known one), Marie-Françoise Audollent. Why she would slip between different accents while speaking English I couldn’t tell you (maybe she learned English from a British teacher?), but that’s not an American shooting for a French accent and missing.

I actually saw this film dubbed in French, so I missed out on all the accents.

Must agree with this, though: