I remember vividly, ten years ago, about the impact this film’s release caused worldwide. A phenomenon named the Da Vinci code. It is an unintentional phenomenon as most of its fame was due to the negative publicity created owing to the protests from Christian groups. People read it, discussed it and some reacted violently due to the blasphemy mentioned in the book/movie. More than the plot, presence of profound actors like Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen etc, the facts mentioned about Jesus Christ’s history drew in the audience.
The movie is about how Prof Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) was framed for Louviere curator Jacques Sauniere’s (Jean-Pierre Marielle) murder and police Cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) backs him after receiving her grandfather’s dying wish. They escape from the police led by the “bull” Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), who is convinced that Langdon is guilty. Amidst all this, Langdon is also being tracked down by Sauniere’s real killer Silas (Paul Bettany) who, based on instructions from an undisclosed person who is referred as the “teacher”, is looking for a secret. The secret Jacques Sauniere holding is so powerful that is revealed, it would devastate the very foundations of Christianity. The code is mentioned deep within Leonardo Da Vinci’s work.
It was a pleasure to see Da Vinci’s work in close details from Mona Lisa, Madonna of the rocks, Vitruvian man, and the last supper. The painting “the last supper” will never look the same again thanks to this book/movie. Now, the filmmakers handled the plot with grace by presenting the trailer which spoke nothing about this “Da Vinci code”. So, those who watch this film will be shocked when presented with twists and turns in the story.
The script was criticized massively for being too hazy and confusing. A second viewing might be needed to understand the plot completely, especially about the ending. The movie deserves credit for intense performances, suspense, music, and production design. Watching the film felt like the book reading process though it had minute details left out. I am glad that several aspects from the book is omitted; like about Sophie’s brother and her relationship with Jacques Sauniere. The story related to Jesus Christ’s divinity was indeed a WTF moment. The movie, in raw words, presents a theory which states that Christianity have to led some radical extremists moments which decimated humanity in form of suppression of the poor, people of color and women. And that, the facts related to Christ’s bloodline needs to be revealed in order to destroy this extremism thus religion itself. Opus Dei is trying every unorthodox measure to stop the secret from being revealed. Perhaps the reason why targetted those involved in the conspiracy, including the last living descendant of Jesus Christ. So, Dan Brown deserves the credit for his guts as he wrote the story and faced threats. But, then the film also produced the possible resolution for this aspect. The twist related to the last living descendant is the best part as until then, the film had dragging and sluggishness. What takes the cake is that many clues are mentioned throughout the movie, like when this person was threatened birds came to the rescue. Birds have helped god in many ways. 🙂
Initially, the screen was irritatingly dark and unless people have enough patience to listen to long lectures, the monolog from Ian McKellen’s character might seem boring. Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany excelled in terms of acting and they stole the show. Bettany’s vulnerability and his intense looks earn him all the credit. Silas is who he is due to Bettany controlled performance. Ian McKellen delivered his standard portrayal, giving a layered nature to his character. I became a fan of Tom Hanks after this movie. Whenever I read “Robert Langdon”, Tom Hanks’s charismatic form comes into my mind. Audrey Tautou is perfect as Sophie Neveu with her intensity and toughness, yet there is a soft side to her. Dan Brown presented his version of Bezu Fache in the form of Jean Reno and it is a brilliant choice. What I liked the best about the da Vinci code when compared to the other following Langdon films is that the characters have incredible depth and there is a better buildup to each story arc. When the characters explore each place, we experience it as “sight seeing”.
Ron Howard’s direction, Hans Zimmer’s music, and Goldsman’s screenplay delivered a controversial yet astounding thriller. The religious part might be something that people will find it difficult to digest and accept. But then, it is fiction and the facts surrounding the fiction might seem daunting. The relevance of the facts is left to the audience to accept or disregard.
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