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Review - The Da Vinci Code (DVD-2006)
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The Da Vinci Code (DVD-2006)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski

 

When an elderly curator is found murdered on the floor of the Louvre Museum in Paris, symbols expert Robert Langdon is called in to decipher a mysterious trail of symbols and clues left at the scene of the crime.  Finding his own life endangered, he is aided by police cryptologist Sophie Neveu and the two embark on a heart-racing quest through Paris, London and Scotland as Langdon collects clues and unveils a series of stunning secrets hidden in art works of Leonardo Da Vinci, all pointing to a secret society which has guarded an ancient secret that has remained hidden for 2000 years.  Langdon attempts to crack a code that may reveal an earthshaking cover-up.

 

Thus unfolds the plot of The Da Vinci Code, a novel by author Dan Brown which has enjoyed unprecedented, phenomenally popular, success around the world.  Its intricate, intelligent, intriguing storyline appealed to thoughtful readers even as its fast paced story entertained them. The film of the novel starring Tom Hanks as Langdon and Audrey Tautou as Neveu, and directed by Ron Howard, now makes its debut on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

 

Da Vinci Code proved to be difficult to adapt to film.  Like Brown’s companion novel, Angels and Demons, the story is so jam-packed with unfolding action, mystery and philosophical discussion that it is difficult to condense to film length.  Since director Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman wanted to be as faithful to the book as possible, the film itself is also jam-packed with characters and tidbits that can overwhelm if one does not pay close attention.   But the story is told, by and large, with masterly flair and a confident air by veteran director Howard.  He is aided by Ian McKellan’s show-stealing performance as Sir Leigh Teabing, a colleague of Landon’s.  A realistic camera-work style and authentic international casting give the film a ‘you are there’ quality. 

 

Catholic groups protested both book and film and its idea that a patriarchal Church suppressed Christ’s teaching in regard to the principle of the divine feminine, symbolized by Mary Magdalene—that the Church recast her character as a prostitute, and that an alternate history of Christ continues to be taught to this day.  In short, the book looks at a misuse of power.   

 

But Brown’s book, its premises, suppositions and philosophical ruminations were exceptionally well researched and detailed.  Brown’s speculations are spot-on target more often than not with supportive historical evidence.  And when his fictional storyline employs symbolic license and meaning, it is true to the spirit of the religious faith it analyzes and the divine mystique at the heart of spiritual expression.  It is silly that the story has engendered such strong attack from some.  For, as even Bill O’Reilly, of all people, points out, the film is not offensive to Christianity.     

 

The DVD contains as extras several documentaries on the making of the film and, in one of them, Dan Brown states that he hoped the book and film would stimulate discussions.  With recent scandals in the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church, hypocrisy in governments and institutional ethical lapses, the point of Brown’s story is, if anything, underscored.  Any questioning it engenders is overdue and proper, for universal truths, whether religious, spiritual, constitutional or ethical, can not only profitably bear such questioning, but can inform such questions.  The Da Vinci Code on DVD not only tells an entertaining story, but the discussion it may generate from considerate viewing can only ultimately bear  fruit as well, making this DVD worth checking out.

 

2006 Dennis Kwiatkowski/Celluloid Dreams

 

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