“The Da Vinci Code” like “The Last Temptation of Jesus’ is blasphemous but in a world where dollars and cents do not truly dictate the human and spiritual experience of God, this movie is at best another epic tale from Hollywood. Watching “The Da Vinci Code” is likely a painful process for those who appreciate a clear line between fictional and non-fictional writing. The controversies that surround this film arise from the validity of Dan Brown’s book of the same title.
Like any other writer who claims that his work is based on true events, Brown must present historical evidence to support his claim. The story in this movie also failed to provide credible evidence and so it is no wonder that Brown has received much criticism. Concerned individuals are raising their brows and rightly so. Any film that tries to challenge the accuracy of the information that governs any important issue as a work of non-fiction will be reviewed accordingly. Otherwise, the standard of accuracy in information provided to the masses will continue to be compromised. We can appreciate the consequences of war propaganda in Germany and across many parts of Europe during World War II. The subject matter in this movie challenges the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and whenever any writer or film writer say that his work is based on historical facts and documents, he will come under the scrutiny of historians and archaeologists alike. Brown is no different and because he has chosen to write on a subject that attacks the Christian faith, many Bible historians have actively pursued the discussion on the validity of his claims.
The plot in this movie surrounds a professor’s and a police cryptographer’s quest to investigate a murder case but it develops into a series of devious insinuations of which the viewer is unable to make sense. This film is no different from a film that lies about Hitler’s victory over the Allies or how democracy collapsed in the face of communism. In many movies the need for a female protagonist in the story is so important and in this movie the female character is Sophie Nevue but her character like Tom Hank’s was sketchy and one dimensional. It can be said that the director and co-producer Ron Howard did not want this film to depend on a love interest between the two lead characters to keep our interest. We cannot say that there was any substantial romantic relationship between Hank’s and Tautou’s characters.
Very likely Howard wanted the story to challenge the audience to think about the consequences of exposing the possible lies about the Christian faith because those were the questions on the minds of both the main characters at the conclusion of the film. The entertainment value of this movie is the controversies which Brown tried to stir up in his book and while Howard tried to bring them onto the screen he did so with little success.
If “The Da Vinci Code” success has anything to do with its writing, then it could be because the concerns raised by the writer are not based on accurate information found in popular culture. The difficulty to ascertain facts or actual events is increased when we deal with matters or people who live farther back in history. It is easier to discover the truths about the events that had taken place in the 20th Century than those that had occurred before that time. For instance, it is easy to do research on the Nazis and come to the realization that Hitler did not win the world war.
One of the controversial issues in this film is that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and that their descendants live in Europe today. In his book, Brown wrote that Jesus could not have attracted so much attention if he was single because the Hebrew culture then did not regard a man too highly unless he was married. This is untrue because celibacy was highly regarded. Not all the rabbis among the Hebrews were married but they were highly respected. Many of the prophets and the famous apostle Paul were celibate. The interesting thing about Mary Magdalene is that she shared the name ’Mary’ with three other women who were close to Jesus. As she was from the city of Magdala, the disciples of Jesus and the rest of the people referred to her as Mary Magdalene. The other three women whose names were Mary were referred to in the gospel writings as Mary the mother of James, Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. If Mary Magdalene was truly the wife of Jesus then at least one of the gospel authors would have recorded this important piece of information or perhaps refer to Mary Magdalene as Mary the wife of Jesus in a passing remark. Yet this is not found anywhere in their writings recorded in the Bible or in any other gospels that Brown discussed.
When this story was first published Brown said that it was fiction but when it generated more interest he decided otherwise. The movie which goes on for a lengthy 149 minutes does not keep our interest in those subject matters which it was supposed to be about. If this movie is rated based on how successfully Howard has caused us to rethink some of the fundamental issues about the Christian faith, it is not surprising that it has received poor reviews.
The character which Ian Mckellen played claimed that Jesus was just a man. However, the historical accounts by the people who knew Jesus were discussed widely amongst actual eye witnesses of the events that occurred throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding areas in Jesus’ days. It would have been impossible to lie about any man who received so much public attention. The gospel writings in the Bible would have been severely and fiercely attacked or disregarded by actual eye witnesses had they believed that Jesus was not God in human flesh.
Tom Hanks said in an interview that Christianity has survived so much persecution through the years and he did not think that this film could cause the Christian faith to suffer. Most born again Christians might be able to attest to the fact that their belief in Jesus Christ has little to do with their knowledge of historical facts but rather it is based on the incomprehensible peace and God’s loving help in the form of divine intervention in their lives. Perhaps Howard does not realise that these experiences surpass human understanding and so clearly the Christian faith is not just based on tangible events that took place.
Sensationalism and fanfare may be formulas for success at the box office but the quality of a film has also a lot to do with the richness of the plot and the characters written. A movie goer who reads films in substantial ways will not want to fork out any money to see this.
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