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~ Da Vinci Code Film Review ~

Yes, I went to see the film, The Da Vinci Code. Needing to see it for myself so I could authoritatively answer questions about it, I'm glad I did. After two and a half hours, I was quite ready to leave, feeling a bit bored and humored. The crazed, gun-waving crippled professor in pursuit of the "real" Holy Grail was eventually arrested for the murder in the opening scene, discovered to be "The Teacher" who never knew he was looking at exactly what he was looking for. The attractive French police female investigator eventually began to accept she was the last ancestor of Christ's blood line. 

As she was saying good-bye to the cryptology professor who broke the code, she tapped her foot on the surface of a pond. Viewers were probably ready for a water-walk scene. Instead, she turned to the professor and smiled, jokingly saying, "May be I'll do better at changing it into wine."

In the final scene, the cryptology professor kneels at the front of the entrance to the Louvre in Paris and the camera penetrates the earth revealing the real Holy Grail, the body of Mary Magdalene. It was indeed an anticlimax. Years ago I stood at the same spot at which Tom Hanks knelt for the closing scene. All blatantly fictional, I did find a truth regarding the entrance yard to the Louvre. Upon first encountering the huge glass pyramid, the cryptology professor politely remarked to the French police investigator, "It is beautiful" or something like that. The investigator honestly replied, "It is a scar on the face of Paris." I agree it is true that the pyramid is a piece of ugly architecture in contrast with the magnificence of the historical Louvre, once the palace of kings.

I went to the theatre with a small stack of one-page rebuttal sheets prepared to hand them out to anyone engaged in conversation outside. I did not need them. Only half the seats inside were occupied. There was no line of movie goers for a later showing, though it was a Saturday when many people are free from work. A starking contrast to the day after day crowds waiting in long lines to see The Passion of the Christ.

Besides wanting to observe the viewers' reactions and the film's content, my main interest was to assess how much of a "threat" the suggestions of the film were to the faith of those Christians (and particularly Roman Catholics) who may not be well versed in Church history or dogma as well as assessing the fodder for anti-Christian and anti-Catholics that may have the potential of undermining Christianity to any degree. I left the theatre quite relieved. The film, unlike others people take their families to watch, was free of any sex or verbal vulgarity and its violence was tame, much more so than that of popular video games.

Unless one is as demented as "The Teacher" portrayed in the film, a viewer will see the fiction and be amused by it, as were the film critics. Even those who enjoy mystery and intrigue may leave disappointed. This film is not worth the energy or focus of any protests. I don't think it will garner the predicted block buster revenues. However, I am anxious to see what it indeed takes in after this opening weekend.

I reiterate my invitation given in this week's newsletter: Write us your take on the appeal of this film and the public's response to it. Is it Hollywood hype, the love of conspiracy theories, the hatred of some for anything Christian or Catholic, or the spiritual warfare of the "principalities and powers of darkness in the heavenly realm" as described in Ephesians Chapter Six? Your observations may well, of course, differ from mine depending on your location and personal spiritual views. I welcome them.

Not that I want to discourage any response, but I just can't resist remarking that the satanic forces are so much more intelligent than Dan Brown and the film's screen writers. The strategies of evil are so advanced they will be able to "deceive the very elect if those days were not shortened" declared the Christ. This film did not even deceive non-Christian movie critics.

"Be not afraid" and go see it if you feel inclined, prepared to be a bit bored and amused. If you think there is something to it, email the curators of the Louvre in Paris and ask them if the body of Mary Magdalene is buried there. They will laugh at the question. But, of course, we can't trust the French, can we? Their laughing might just convince the gullible that there is something true about this Catholic conspiracy after all. As I quoted previously, "The difference between genius and ignorance is that genius has its limits." Giving credit where credit is due, Dan Brown expresses some genius, in his fictional writing and marketing. He has already been laughing on the way to the bank. As a fictional writer, he is also undoubtedly laughing at the unlimited ignorance of the masses who will believe his "expose" of the "truth", pay thousands of dollars (or uros) to tour these sites of code in Paris and London, buy the scheduled marketing of Da Vinci Code games, cups, hats and t-shirts and the video games that challenge our youth to break this code and subsequent ones. Even the British judge who ruled in Dan Brown's favor in the suit charging him with stealing ideas and context from previously published books embedded his decision with code, admittedly having some fun. 

The film has a degree of pathetic fun. It exposes itself for what it is. And it is certainly no threat to Christianity, unless you succumb to the notion that the ignorant will always prevail. This has not been the history of humanity. And history and current affairs teach us, actually reassure us, that Christianity prevailed, or rather grew, under persecution by the ignorant and powerful, starting with the Roman Empire's appointed governor of the Judea region, Pontius Pilate. He was, however, smarter than the ecclesiastical leaders of Jerusalem. He knew what he was doing, ceremonially washing his hands of it. Let us all realize what this film is doing, and that is not much. The Church and the Holy Spirit that infuses us have prevailed and thrived against the gates of hell (see Matthew 16:18). Dan Brown has hardly succeeded in making a opening crack. No need to empower him with fear, protests or boycotts. He can be empowered only by the same dynamic that empowered him, the spread of ignorance. Political, emotional, psychological and spiritual ignorance is indeed something to be feared, or, at the least, challenged. And we cannot challenge it without being familiar with it. Otherwise, our own ignorance will feed the prevailing ignorance of this world, "becoming like them."

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
   in the Christian Faith ~

Spiritual Resource Services  © May 20, 2006

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