Da Vinci Code, the movie: Afterthoughts


(…) a secret that threatens to overturn 2000 years of accepted dogma

I wonder if “The Da Vinci Code”, the movie, will ever have a life outside of “The Da Vinci Code”, the book, just as much as I wondered before if “The Da Vinci Code”, the book, would ever have had a life outside of its title. In my opinion, both the book´s title and its cover design were the true reasons for its success, more than the plot, which albeit interesting was nothing new sub sole (for instance, check Peter Berling´s “The Children of the Grail“). In this way I would say that I found the book deceiving as though Leonardo is in fact scattered throughout the story in various ways, he belongs to the decoration, not to the core of the structure.

Going back to the movie, I have heard these last days that it is not receiving good reviews, and the friends that accompanied me to the theatre were all of the same opinion: it is like the book, but not quite. The movie shows all the “scenes” from the book, but in what looks as a tradeoff, many times the events are simplified so that the whole has a reasonable lenght (two and a half hours, by the way). Sometimes it seems that the characters were rushed to follow the story: move here, find this, do that. It actually looks like when you see an expert player trying to beat as fast as possible a videogame that he or she alreay knows by heart. (remember when Langdon is trying to decipher the first inscription? yes, that’s a cutscene). In brief, the result is that the main characters don’t seem to believe not only what´s happening to them but their whole world: no matter how hard I tried, I could only see a constipated Tom Hanks were there should be some Robert Langdon. The secondary characters are better, and Paul Bettany actually succeeds in making a believable character out of his bizarre Silas.

All this said, for some reason I hesitate to say that The Da Vinci Code is a bad movie. The fact that I didn´t realize how long it had been until I left the room is certainly positive, and there were some frankly thrilling moments, surprises and many “yes, this is how I had imagined it”. It is also true that as I said the story is sometimes too “light”, but that´s not always bad. One of my friends complained for instance that the characters talked about the Fibonacci sequence without explaining it, and I don´t think that’s a problem. If both Robert and Sophie know what it is, why should they explain it? In this sense I think that it is a good thing that some things are given unexplained, better than loading the movie with constant offtopics only meant for the public. Besides, I liked very much the visual effects and among those the flashbacks, made with taste and shown without showing off. The music by Hans Zimmer is also top quality, and highlights more than adequately the action, again without being obtrusive.

Being in all a not-so-bad movie, The Da Vinci Code movie stays true to the not-so-bad book. Its only sin is to have renounced to having a personality on its own: a digest of a digest, it amplifies most of the flaws of the book, and while there are some good things about it, that´s probably not enough to live away from the fame of the original.

ps. I still wonder how The da Vinci Code or any book on the same vein can still surprise everyone: after I read Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco, I thought nobody would ever dare to write yet another book on roses or Templars. I guess I was completely wrong 😛

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