“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation” -James Madison

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Code talk

I saw a flick this weekend -- da Vinci something-or-other.....

When I read the book a couple of years ago, I pronounced it to be "interesting pulp nonsense" -- a set of intersecting conspiracy theories mixed with theological controversy, historical innacuracy/speculation, and absolutely silly characters and worse dialogue. The puzzles and connections were fun, but having to slog through the inane actions and speechifying of the wooden characters took some of the zing out of it.

In a word, it is hoohah....

Since then I've watched the world wake up to this little tale. The controversy absolutely baffles me, since (as usual) the people on each side appear to be mutually and equally insane/ignorant/obtuse. I speak of the Believers and the Bashers.

The Believers drive me crazy because they're conspiracy nuts who apprarently do not comprehend historical truth. If one is going to delve headlong into believing Dan Brown's ramblings as thinly-disguised journalism of reality, perhaps it would behoove one to learn something about Roman history, Medieval history, the development of the Catholic church through both, political and economic structures of medieval and Renaissance-era Europe, and have a general understanding of the fact that the viability of a secret is inversely proportional to the number of secret-holders.

The Bashers drive me crazy because they take this whole thing as seriously as the Believers do, and they view the book and movie as a threat to their belief system. The fear that a popular movement based in ignorance and supposition might bring down whatever flagging interest in organized religion exists, especially in the face of more serious problems that directly threaten that structure, is nothing new and shows a disconcerting lack of faith as well as a blindness to logical and realistic issues.

Basically, everybody on both sides tends to take this whole thing FAR too seriously -- it's a story, for Christ's Pete's sake!

The reviews of the movie have been horrendous -- "wooden characters", "too talky", "contrived plot points", "improbable escapes", "convenient arrangement of elements", and "no chemistry between" the leads) are some of the common complaints.

They're right -- but that is because these are weaknesses of the original book. The entire thing is a series of riddles and conspiracy theories told by people who would never exist, would never talk that way, and get too much easy information in accordance with ridiculous setup/escape bits. Never mind that this is a good explanation of MOST "thriller" films these days -- why is Da Vince Code held to the higher standard?

By the way, there should not be "chemistry" between the leads -- it's not a romantic setup; they are partners in solving a mystery and in the book are even hinted at being long-lost brother and sister. The book is terrible, and any attempt to be faithful to it will by necessity result in a terrible movie.

Except it's NOT a terrible movie. That is what astounded me. I went in prepared to hate it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was simply a matter of unscrewing the Logic circuit and enjoying the story on its own merits. Filming in the Louvre, sweeping shots of beautiful locations, and interesting visual effects made this (for me) a must-see-in-theater film. That's big, since I rarely see movies in the theater, preferring to rent and enjoy at home.

Bottom line -- I don't buy the premise at all, pretty much despised the book, and dreaded going to see it (I was dragged against my will). But I enjoyed the film and definitely recommend it to be seen if one is capable of allowing the story to be told without prejudice. The Believers and the Bashers have a great deal to learn in this regard.


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