The Da Vinci Code is a well-known book and movie. As well as being a blockbuster as a film, it also raises some serious religious themes. The nature of faith is one, particularly with relation to faith being based on ignorance. Another important theme is that of the reliability of historical texts. The Bible is just one more historical text, and one which has gone through many translations over the centuries. Although I was never religious, The Da Vinci Code has changed my perception of religion, possibly forever.
The movie begins as the curator of the Louvre museum is murdered. His body is then discovered with a series of symbols and clues depicted with his blood. At this point, Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, is contacted and asked to assist in decoding the cryptic message (Howard). However, Langdon is soon cautioned by cryptologist Sophie Neveu that his life could be at risk. Neveu is also the curator’s granddaughter, and she and Langdon then begin and adventurous trip across Paris, Scotland and London on a mission to decode the messages, locate the Holy Grail, and expose an immense religious conspiracy (Howard).
The movie is beautiful to watch, partly because it features settings such as the Louvre and Westminster Abbey. Furthermore, the movie stays true, for the most part, to Dan Brown’s original novel. For film fanatics, the aesthetics alone make the movie worth watching.
Ron Howard, the film director, has followed the essential theme of the book. This is that Jesus Christ in fact married Mary Magdalene and went on to have children, meaning that descendants of Jesus Christ are alive today. As in the novel, the conservative Catholic faction Opus Dei is portrayed as a brutal and power-hungry society.
The Da Vinci Code touches many religious themes, one being the concept that faith in God is ingrained in ignorance of the truth. The lack of knowledge that the Church has encouraged is personified in the character of Bishop Aringarosa, who believes that the Church ought not to be enmeshed with scientific research. The Da Vinci Code implies that the Church also imposed ignorance about the survival of the progenies of Jesus Christ. Though at one time, Langdon claims that maybe the Grail’s secrets should be conserved so as to permit individuals and groups to maintain their religious faith, he also believes that people who truthfully believe in God will be capable of accepting the concept that the Bible is packed with metaphors, rather than exact records of the truth.
I found the film to be an interesting one. It was plagued with negative reviews from the critics, but it made me question beliefs that I had grown up around, and therefore, in my opinion, it was a successful film. I have never been a Christian. However, when growing up I was surrounded with Church-goers and believers, and learned a great deal about the Bible and Christian beliefs. The Da Vinci Code made me question the idea of faith in a manner which I had not previously. For example, the idea that Jesus Christ was a real man but that he did, in fact, have children, had never occurred to me. This theory actually makes much more sense to me, as a non-Christian, than any other theory I have learned. In my opinion, the Bible stories featuring Mary Magdalene were evasive, and it always seemed to me that she played a greater role in the life of Jesus than was commonly accepted. Therefore, the theory put forward in The Da Vinci Code made a great deal of sense.
The film poses the problem of whether history texts inescapably speak exclusively the truth. The film is littered with versions and explanations of frequently voiced stories, such as those of Jesus’ life, and the Da Vinci frieze The Last Supper, as well as a unique account of how the Bible was collected and of the absent gospels.
History texts are, like any other book, just one person’s words. As Dan Brown wrote in his novel: “By its very nature, history is always a one-sided account” (Goodreads).
Of course, the gospels were apparently written by a number of different people. However, no text is completely reliable, especially when it dates back so far in history. Furthermore, the Bible was translated into English from Ancient Hebrew. Due to the differences in the languages there are bound to be inaccuracies (Ancient Hebrew). According to the Ancient Hebrew website, “the translator's task is compounded by the presence of words and phrases whose original meanings have been lost.” This is one small example of how the Bible is likely to be not entirely true to what happened at the time. The following quote from Dan Brown’s novel summarises the idea that the Bible is man-made, and is not proof of God:
“The Bible did not arrive by fax from heavenThe Bible is the product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book” (Goodreads).
This quote perhaps encapsulates one of the main themes of the movie. A historical text, especially one so old, is bound to go through some changes over the course of time, and that is assuming it was completely reliable at the time of writing. God did not write the Bible; humans wrote the Bible. An entire religion has been based on this historical text. This is a frightening thought for some people, especially in light of all the conflicts caused by religion.
The Da Vinci Code movie was adapted from the popular Dan Brown novel. The result is a movie which has been slated by many critics, but still encapsulates the ground-breaking central themes of the original book. Religious themes such as the nature of faith, and the reliability of historical religious texts, are explored in depth. As a child I grew up around Christians, though I wasn’t one myself. The Da Vinci Code opened up all sorts of possible theories in my mind. In this way, I believe the movie to have been an important one in my education, both academic and spiritual. After I watched the movie I thought about it for a long time afterwards. While many Catholics and Christians were offended by the movie, I believe that it is rarely a negative experience to learn about other theories and make up one’s own mind about them. As stated in the film, people who truly believe can handle the truth.
Ancient Hebrew Research Centre. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.” 2013. Web. 17 April 2013. http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/2_bible.html
Goodreads. “The Da Vinci Code Quotes.” 2013. Web. 17 April 2013. http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2982101-the-da-vinci-code
Howard, R. The Da Vinci Code. 2007. Film. Sony Pictures.