Sunday, June 04, 2006

Me and Da Vinci

June 4

I don’t know exactly what propelled me to the local cinema palace yesterday to view The Da Vinci Code. Maybe I was expecting a charming romp with the mop-of-curls Tom Hanks of yesteryear – coping with convoluted Catholic coverups, cavorting with big-eyed French beauties, foiling evil albinos, and going toe-to-toe with real actors like Ian MacKellan and Jean Reno.

What I got was one of the most boring two and a half hours I can remember (I left before the end), The film was leaden with exposition, totally unconvincing in plot and suspense, all counterpointed with a sound track that was supposed to carry the whole sloppy mess. Director Ron Howard started by miscasting the lead role, which called for a young Harrison Ford; interspersing some elementary special effects and clever flashbacks which related to nothing, and allowing endless talk which was seldom interesting.

Everybody in the movie seemed to have to explain something to somebody, even though the person receiving the explanation didn’t care about it. Neither did I.

Is there someone out there who is shocked that in its beginning the church bent some truths in order to build a constituency? Is this a point that people are willing to die for – a “conspiracy”? Is it news to anybody at this time in history? Does it matter?

Is it exciting to watch such rituals as self-flagellation? Why was so much of it necessary? (and for that matter, do not albinos actually have red eyeballs, and is that effect not possible to achieve in this day of contact lenses? If so, what is the point of having an albino character? Is there something eerie about a guy just having white hair?) I didn’t see anything weird about the albino, except perhaps his constant whipping himself. It was bad enough that he was so mindless as to try to kill everybody the bishop told him to. He carried less a sense of menace than just the psyochopathic obsession of your ordinary young guy with white hair and a cat-o-nine-tails.

There was supposed to be a love interest within the story line, but until Ian MacKellan’s character mentioned it this had not been apparent. Why was it not developed? The film could use a little romance, yet there wasn’t any room for it with all the explaining of religious symbolism and doctrine going on. Who were these people, and what was holding them together?

Audrey Daudet’s character was supposed to be non-religious and really uninterested in anything the Church might suggest. I didn't quite believe the wide-eyed beauty, and felt that if she had had some slight waffling here it might have added to the intrigue. I can’t imagine that anyone watching the film didn’t know from the first that it was going to be her role to be the posterity of the Divine.

I spent the first of the movie promising myself that I could leave after the an hour passed if this thing didn't get any better, but by then Ian MacKellan was on. He was interesting enough that I gave it a little more time and then a little more; at last a few hours had passed and we had Tom Hanks and Audrey in the cellar of the church trying to sort things out with people surrounding them, I left without finding out who the people filing in were or what they thought they could do about this matter. I couldn’t have cared less. If they knew that she was the descendent of Jesus, the last in the line, and a female to boot, of course she had to die. But I had to get to a hair appointment, and that was infinitely more important than finding out about this.

I look adorable in my new haircut, and I hope nobody ever asks me what I thought of The Da Vinci Code.


Benedict S. said...

Actually, the flick was no better as a motion picture than the book was as a novel. But the "novel" was more a pseudo-documentary than a story, hence, the movie was bound to be more talkative than your usual "thriller."

I felt the producers had made a significant mistake in casting Mr. Hanks, and would have made the same observation no matter which big name star they cast. The success of the book guaranteed that the film was bound to make money, so why waste $20 million on Hanks when you could have an up-and-comer for zilch? The centerpiece of the story was, in any case, the lady, and I thought the director controlled himself quite nicely in that regard; his use of flashbacks into the lady's past told us something was up without revealing the "plot" to those who may not have read the book.

As for the movie's rescuing qualities: it had at least one. The photo-magic they accomplished with the Da Vinci painting could never have been achieved with the written word. They should have done a few more tricks of that sort.

In short, the movie was too close to the book, and the book was too far from a flesh-and-blood story. I don't think it could -- or should -- have been done differently. The book was too widely read to change all that much. We might observe that the opposite case existed with Forrest Gump, easily (in my opinion) Mr. Hanks' finest performance. No one to speak of had read the book, so the screenwriter (Eric Roth?) was quite free to do what he did to mr. Groom's novel -- he made a masterpiece of a silk purse out of a veritable sow's ear. The Da Vinci Code's screenwriter could never have gotten away with a similar makeover.

Actually, given the restraints they worked under, the screenwriters did a fairly good job. This was not a movie that could be regarded as anything other than the flip-side of that thing Gibson did with the literal account of Jesus's arrest, trial, and crucifixion -- a documentary with just enough blood-and-guts to qualify for an "R" rating (overdone in Gibson's case, and possibly to some tastes here as well).

John Sweden said...

What did you think of the DaVinci Code? I mean the book. It could have been worse you could have read the book and then seen the movie. It is now thought that Jesus’s words on the cross, “Forgive them father for they know not what they do”, was the first prophesized critical review.

I think the book and the movie would have been much better if it had revealed that George Bush was actually the last of the line of descendents from Jesus. Then at least we would have been forced to take a more serious look at the “Omens 1,2, & 3”.

Of course in my scenario George’s daughters would then have to be revealed as the love children of Carl Rove and Dick Cheney, and Bush himself would be the love child of LBJ (notice the big ears) and Barbra Bush. It was Kennedy’s secret mission to Dallas on behalf of the Vatican to retrieve the hidden secret birth certificates. Lee Harvey Oswald, a known albino who dyes his hair, is sent by Billy Graham and Pat Roberts to thwart the mission and retrieve documents from a hidden in a bible amongst the other science books at the Texas School Book depository building. He doesn’t find it.

The bible is lost for many years until it turns up at the American Embassy in Tehran. The Ayatollah’s find the bible with the birth certificates and with the help of a secret “Bible Code”, later to be published in the west, realizes the United States under Bush would become the “Great Satan”. Khomeni tries to warn the U.S. but is purposely mistranslated and misunderstood by both Carter and Reagan who are under the influence of both Roberts and Graham. They purposely and permanently cut off any further dialogue with the U.S. with the hope of hiding the truth and the plot. Cut off from any further dialogue the Ayatollah’s later give the message to an Osama Ben Laden to deliver.

Now with the real direct genetic descendent, Jesus-to-Bush, in the white house, the thousand year old right wing Christian plot for instigating Armageddon and the Rapture, which will see them all rising into heaven, will be brought to fruition.

Finding Fair Hope said...

I guess it's obvious I didn't read the book. Wasn't interested. I'm still not.

As for Forrest Gump, I didn't read that either, and enjoyed the movie as entertainment but thought Tom Hanks gave one of the most obnoxious performances in film history -- surely a road to the Oscar. I've known re-tards in my life, but I've never known anyone as self-consciously mouth-breathing as that.

I think, like The English Patient and other absolutely unbearably silly films, The Da Vinci Code will sweep the Oscars next year. It's kinda like the Presidential race -- when I'm against a candidate, he invariably wins. I'm getting used to it.

Benedict S. said...

John, is all of that true? My lord, I knew the Vatican was clever, and the Bush's corrupt (or was it the other way around) but these revelations are truly enlightening. Where did you get all that info. Are you a wall-jumping Cardinal?

Finding Fair Hope said...

John never lies. It must be true.

Axle Rood said...

John Sweden, go boy! Your version of supposed history and "The DaVinci Code" is more interesting than the real things! I propose that through the fair ff, whom I can't wait to see with her new coif, we do our own movie ---your version. We'd make millions!

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