Review by Paul Stathakis | 2006

Da Vinci's theory

The Da Vin­ci Code” will be regard­ed as the most con­tro­ver­sial film of the year.  The long-antic­i­pat­ed thriller has gen­er­at­ed large protests around the globe and per­haps the man­i­fes­ta­tions alone will dri­ve audi­ences to see it.  Those who have read Dan Brown’s best-sell­ing nov­el may draw cer­tain com­par­isons and con­clude that they were sat­is­fied with the film adap­ta­tion.  Of course, there are oth­ers who will find it rather dull, okay, good but not great, over hyped, etc…  A mixed reac­tion is expected.

The Da Vin­ci Code” ful­fills its promise to enter­tain.  It is enter­tain­ing.  There are a great many ref­er­ences to mythol­o­gy, God, Jesus, Mary Mag­da­lene, Da Vin­ci, his paint­ings, sym­bols, codes that must be deci­phered, arch­bish­ops, and the Opus Dei.  Even though we some­times feel as though we are watch­ing the sequel to “Nation­al Trea­sure”, the film man­ages to remain engag­ing at near­ly three hours.

Tom Han­ks stars as Robert Lang­don, a pro­fes­sor of sym­bol­o­gy (a term used by Brown that has not yet been rec­og­nized by dic­tio­nary edi­tors) at Har­vard.  When we first meet Lang­don, he stands before a jam-packed school audi­to­ri­um in Paris and deliv­ers a lec­ture on sym­bols: how they ought to be inter­pret­ed and where some com­mon sym­bols orig­i­nat­ed from.  Fol­low­ing his speech, Inspec­tor Fache (Jean Reno) informs him of the mur­der of a muse­um cura­tor named Jacques Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle).  Lang­don vis­its the Lou­vre to offer his opin­ion on the bru­tal mur­der.  He notices the posi­tion of the vic­tim’s body (which calls to mind a paint­ing by Da Vin­ci) and vis­i­ble sym­bols writ­ten in his own blood.  There is even an encrypt­ed mes­sage with a few num­bers and a note to Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a French police­woman whom Sauniere raised after her par­ents’ trag­ic death.

Togeth­er Lang­don and Neveu inves­ti­gate Sauniere’s encrypt­ed mes­sage and it brings them oth­er mes­sages where they uncov­er oth­er deep mys­ter­ies.  Of course, it all comes down to one secret which is, in the view­er’s mind, either worth pro­tect­ing or not.  You be the judge.  That said, there are sec­ondary char­ac­ters like Paul Bet­tany’s part as an albi­no named Silas, who works on the orders of a mys­tery man who calls him­self the Teacher.  The teacher’s mis­sion is, of course, to con­ceal the loca­tion of the Holy Grail.  Even Sir Ian McK­el­len’s part fits appro­pri­ate­ly into the sto­ry.  But the per­for­mances are not mes­mer­iz­ing and Han­ks turns in a sto­ic per­for­mance that does not match up with some of his best work.  The same applies to Audrey Tautou who is not near­ly as charm­ing here as she was in “Amelie” (2001).  We embark on the search with the char­ac­ters but we nev­er believe that they are real­ly capa­ble of dis­cov­er­ing the things they actu­al­ly dis­cov­er.  Exag­ger­at­ed, a little.

To give away plot details would not be fair to any­one who has not seen the film or read the book.  The film gath­ered a neg­a­tive response from crit­ics who dis­missed it as “a jum­ble of his­tor­i­cal myth.” (Kirk Hon­ey­cutt of the ‘Hol­ly­wood Reporter’)  Many reli­gious groups were offend­ed by the film’s con­tents and shock­ing con­clu­sion.  Dan Brown’s site,, con­tains a FAQ sec­tion.  One read­er asks Brown just how much of his nov­el is true.  Brown con­tends that, “ ‘The Da Vin­ci Code’ is a nov­el and there­fore a work of fic­tion.”  So, no, I don’t believe the film’s inten­tions are to mod­i­fy reli­gious views.  The idea here is to offer enter­tain­ment and Ron Howard has accom­plished that.


© 2006 by All rights reserved