May 17, 2006


‘Da Vinci’ critics crack the Code: It stinks (Stephen Schaefer, May 17, 2006, Boston Herald)

It may be the buzz movie of the season, but most of the buzz was bad last night when “The Da Vinci Code” premiered for an audience of journalists and VIPs at the opening of the 59th Cannes Film Festival.

Ron Howard’s $125 million adaptation of Dan Brown’s controversial bestseller was shrouded in secrecy until yesterday’s screenings here and in Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles.

Maybe Columbia Pictures was worried about the reaction. It’s not a good sign when your film’s big revelatory moment is greeted with laughter. “It’s not really interesting,” groused one critic leaving the theater here. “The plot is in some ways ridiculous and the laughter was justified.”


Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2006 7:51 AM

The book's plot wasn't bad. The dumb characters and clunky expository dialogue were too much for me.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at May 17, 2006 8:42 AM

Remember, they also laughed at "Exorcist II" ... oh, wait a minute...

Posted by: John at May 17, 2006 9:15 AM

The book was awful because of the leaden writing. There was nothing wrong with the plot and I'd hoped the screen writer would do a better job with it.

Hanks wasn't an inspired choice for the hero. Unfortunately, he hasn't aged well. A better choice would have been a younger Harrison Ford, but then a younger Harrison Ford would be a better choice for most things.

Posted by: erp at May 17, 2006 9:41 AM

The writing was leaden, the plot was absurd, even the title of the book is illiterate: It should be called "The Leonardo Code." Which means it is your typical airport bestseller. The anti-Catholicism is a bonus.

Posted by: ted welter at May 17, 2006 10:06 AM

I've never read the book and I'll never see the film because I once had the misfortune of reading Angels and Demons, the worst book I ever read and finished.

Posted by: Shelton at May 17, 2006 10:11 AM

Audrey Tatou is never wasted judging from Amelie, A Very Long Engagement or Dirty Pretty Things.

My wife browbeat me into reading the book. Meh.

Posted by: Rick T. at May 17, 2006 11:05 AM

This movie has always been win-win for the Hollywood left in the aftermath of The Passion. If it succeeds, they can say "See! We ARE making movies about religion that the audience wants to see!" and churn out more blockbusters opposed to Christian orthodoxy. If it tanks, they can say "See! We tried, but The Passion was a fluke and people just don't want to see religious movies."

Posted by: b at May 17, 2006 11:36 AM

Excellent point, but DVC is, of course, an anti-religious movie, the anti-Catholic aspect being a bonus as Mr. Welter pointed out.

Posted by: jdkelly at May 17, 2006 6:49 PM

The Da Vinci stuff is not aimed at Catholcism.

We've been sparring with the gates of Hell for a couple of thousand years and can handle ourselves.

Rather, this current assault is aimed at Protestantism, which is much much vulnerable to an attack on the integrity of Sacred Scripture.

Catholics have always understood that the New Testament did not come from an angel in a cave or from under a rock in an Indian gold field. We understand the process whereby certain paradoka, traditions, became accepted and approved as graphe, scriptures. This was done by none other than--the Catholic Church.

We have always known of and dealt with sprurious pseudo-graphe. Very little of the heretical writings currently being passed around is new. Protestants, on the other hand, are not so fortunate, being bereft of the magisterium.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 17, 2006 8:26 PM

Lou, wrong about the aim. Right about the miss.

Posted by: jdkelly at May 17, 2006 10:15 PM

Lou Gots:

I recently perused a book introduction by the New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman in which he seemed to indicate that he had lost his faith in Christianity when he discovered that the New Testament writings had been changed and may have come from partially corrupted manuscripts.

In addition, he noted that certain details in the Gospels occasionally contradicted each other. He was a fundamentalist convert at the time and had been forced to devise increasingly labyrinthine explanations for various apparent NT discrepancies, until one day a professor suggested perhaps one of the gospel writers had just gotten it wrong in a certain spot. That opened the floodgates.

It seems to me the Catholic way is better, since it doesn't set up such impossible expectations for a book that is obviously contradictory in certain places, since whatever the source of inspiration it was put onto papyrus by fallible humans.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 17, 2006 10:28 PM

Incidentally, the film has so far garnered a whopping six percent approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. One out of 16 movie reviewers (normally political liberals who disdain Catholicism) liked it.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 17, 2006 10:56 PM


The author of The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty, once told an interviewer that he went to see the sequel having no idea what it was going to be like. He got about halfway through and couldn't take it anymore: he started laughing, and most of the movie theater followed suit. He said you'd have thought they were watching a comedy if you had only the audience reaction to go on.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 17, 2006 11:00 PM

If someone gets confused because one gospel says there were two angels at the tomb, another says one, and another doesn't even say they were angels, then that someone doesn't understand how inspiration (and writing, and memory) works.

Likewise, for people who criticize the NT because full Greek copies of the text don't exist and weren't reproduced en masse at the Kinko's in Thessalonika, well - they don't understand the canon itself.

Ontological certitude (as in a chain of custody for each and every writing in the NT) isn't going to convince people - remember, there were many who saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb and not all of them 'believed'. Some ran off to the high priest to tattle on Jesus.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 18, 2006 8:49 AM