Sunday, May 21, 2006

REVIEW: The Davinci Code

By now everyone who has yet to see it (which, judging by the boxoffice numbers right now is a rapidly-shrinking group, yowza!) knows approximately two things for certain about "The DaVinci Code": That the critics are not being kind and that their unkindness is not expected to matter in the end.

That you know the 2nd part because it tends to appear IN reviews demonstrating the 1st part is a "clue" that you won't need a Rennaissance-era puzzle-box to decode for yourself: The mainline critics are having their fun unloading the Big Guns on a film that's really no worse (or better) than dozens of others like it, secure in the knowledge that it's garaunteed-hit status absolves them of any lingering caution toward even-handedness. The opportunity to swat the crap out of a Summer Blockbuster without fear of being branded a hit-killing spoilsport should it be "rediscovered" down the road only comes along once every so-often.

So let's all of us, "DaVinci" fan, foe or newcomer alike, take a deep cleansing breath and observe that while Dan Brown's pulp-potboiler is closer a relative to "Encyclopedia Brown" than "Encyclopedia Britannica," it's also far from a literary dud. In fact, overall it's a cracking-good solve-the-mystery page-turner expertly infused with an illusion of depth and import via the grounding of it's puzzles in a challenge to what is likely the last relic of assumed-sanctity in the post-Christian West: The divinity and chastity of Jesus Christ.

Ron Howard has faithfully ported over both the virtues and flaws of Brown's tome, offering up one of the most studiously reverent (to the material) literary adaptations since the first "Harry Potter" installment. Everything that made the book a worldwide phenomenon is here, along with everything that keeps it from achieving greater grandeur. What Howard's critics are damning him for, fairly or not, is nothing short of being unable (pardon the pun) to turn water into wine. The criticism isn't wholly unfair... after all, great films like "The Godfather" have been made from pulp hits that were merely "good" before. And just as "merely" turning Coca-Cola into Pepsi would be impressive in it's own right, surely it can't be a criminal act to make a film that is "merely" good from a book of the same pedigree?

Tom Hanks has the lead as Brown's franchise character, famous professor of symbology Robert Langdon. While on a book tour in Paris (forget the Jesus stuff... in WHAT universe is a symbologist an international celebrity giving enthusiastic lectures to sold-out crowds and book-signing lines to rival Stephen King?) Langdon finds himself unwittingly drawn into the mystery surrounding a colleague who was murdered in the Louvre and has left cryptic riddles for Robert and the man's granddaughter Sophie (Audrey Tautou) to decipher. Hotly pursued by a French detective (Jean Reno,) Langdon and Sophie chase a trail of clues relating to DaVinci, paganism, early-christianity and, yes, the literal Holy Grail... amid further complication involving the actual murderer, a psychotic (and endlessly resourceful) albino monk named Silas, employed as a one-man hit squad by Opus Dei (seen here functioning as the Vatican's answer to the Men In Black.)

A few rousing escapes and puzzle-solving scenes later, the pair seek the help of Sir Leigh Teabing, (Sir Ian McKellan, who seems to approach this material as a kind of home run derby for dry English witticisms,) who helpfully lays out What The Big Deal Is for those of you wondering what the hell is so "controversial" about this story. I won't join the critical press in spoiling The Big Whoop-Dee-Doo, but suffice it to say it involves Jesus, DaVinci, dozens of historical heavyweights, The Crusades, witch-trials, pagan goddess-worship, secret societies, a bit of "everything you know is wrong" in regards to Christianity, and there's a WHOPPER of a secret buried somewhere in Europe that The Church is willing to KILL to keep from being discovered.

All of this clue-to-clue dashing around is about as engaging as it was in Brown's original book, though in translation much of the more tangential digressions of symbolism and art-history that made the peice seem so much bigger and important than it eventually is. Also, not unexpectedly, now that the audience is watching the events with their own eyes rather than through Langdons, he winds up as a kind of passive "hero" considering his billing. Given that his prime function, robbed of his inner monologue, is to be on hand for the puzzles and solve a few of them here and there, the result is a less-than-proactive hero who's often overshadowed by Tautou's more commanding presence as Sophie... and EVERYONE dissapears into the ether whenever McKellan takes the stage.

It's all very intriguing and interesting, and lighter than air when you get right down to it. What a refreshing change of pace, to have a Summer Blockbuster that aims to snap us to attention with bold, even blasphemous, ideas rather than bold explosions... that can make a scene in which a British history buff narrates a flashback-y secret history of modern civilization more alive and fun than anything in "Mission: Impossible 3."

But let's not get carried away. For all the cultus that's sprung up around it, seeing it acted out in three dimensions makes it more clear than ever that "DaVinci Code" is at best an extremely well-constructed distraction, a fun story well told in grand pulp-mystery tradition. That so many outraged leaders of organized religion are calling for boycotts, fasts and candlelight vigils as "resistance" to this film says nothing about it's relevance and more than enough about the dwindling relevance of organized religion. Any institution that can be "rocked to it's core" by a work so relatively trivial as this deserves to be rocked to it's core... and then some.



Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Bob and crew, here's a real hot potato, eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

Here is the key to understanding what the Vatican/Papacy truly fears...

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing leads to blindness...

There's a bit more to the story of the Vatican's reaction than most are yet aware of. Read my missive below to understand what they truly fear. It's not the DaVinci Code or Gospel of Judas per se, but the fact that people have been motivated to seek out the unequivocal truth about an age of deception, exactly when they expect me to appear. The Gospel of Judas and DaVinci Code controversies are allowing people to take new stock of the Vatican/Papacy and the religions Rome spawned.

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

Yes, the DaVinci Code novel is better than the movie. Both are no more accurate as a literal version of history than is the New Testament. In other words, none of them is the literal truth, which is a key fact of the story and ancient history. The primary sub-plot is about purposeful symbology being used to encode hidden meanings, exactly like the Bible and related texts. Arguing about whether the DaVinci Code, Gospel of Judas, or the Bible are accurate history is a Machiavellian red herring designed to hide the truth by misdirecting your inquiry away from the heart of the matter.

Want to truly understand why we can't let the Vatican succeed at telling us what to think about ancient history? There is a foolproof way to verify the truth and expose centuries-old religious deceptions. It is also the common thread connecting why the ancient Hebrews, Yahad/Essene, Jews, Gnostics, Cathars, Templars, Dead Sea Scrolls, DaVinci Code, and others have all been targets of Rome’s ire and evil machinations. What the Vatican and its secret society cohorts don’t want you to understand is that the ancient Hebrew symbology in all of these texts purposely encodes and exposes the truth about them. Furthermore, the structure of ancient symbology verifiably encodes the rules to decode messages built with it. This is what they most fear you will discover.

If the Bible represented the literal truth or even accurate history, there would be no need for faith in the assertions of deceptive and duplicitous clergy and their ilk. Wisdom and faith are opposing concepts, because wisdom requires the unequivocal truth where faith obfuscates and opposes it. Religion is therefore the enemy of truth and wisdom.

It is undeniable the New Testament is framed by ancient Hebrew symbolism and allegory. The same is evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic texts, biblical apocrypha, DaVinci Code, and other related texts. All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!

It is amazing the Vatican still tries to insist the Gospels are literal truth. It is beyond obvious they are replete with ancient Hebrew symbology. Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in the Old Testament, Apocalypse, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other symbolic narratives and traditions. This is the secret held by the ancient Gnostics, Templars, and Cathars, which is presented with dramatic effect in the DaVinci Code. None of these narratives or stories were ever intended as the literal truth. That is a key fact to unraveling ages-old mysteries.

Likewise, the following Washington Post article (The Book of Bart) describes how many changes and embellishments were made to New Testament texts over the centuries, unequivocally demonstrating they are not original, infallible, or truthful.

It's no wonder the Vatican fears the truth more than anything else. Seek to understand the symbolic significance of my name (Seven Star Hand) and you will have proof beyond disproof that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have long been duped by the great deceivers I warned humanity about over the millennia. What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand truth and wisdom?

Now comes justice, hot on its heels... (symbolism...)

Not only do I talk the talk, I walk the walk...
Here is Wisdom!!

Revelations from the Apocalypse

Wesley said...

WHHHHHHAaaaaaaa? dude your friggin nuts. Bob your attrating some real nuts here this guy thinks he's a messiah.