So Dark the Con of Dan........


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It's ironic, is it not? A year ago, if you hadn't read The Da Vinci Code you were not in tune with the pulse of edgy fiction. Now, if you're not lambasting the film version, you are once again a member of the school chess club, wondering why your school thinks letting 30 boys trying to hit each other with sticks is a healthy example of Physical Education. But maybe that's just me. Except I was a member of the General Knowledge Quiz team. But I digress......

At least, this was the gist of a recent conversation I had with Anne. Of course, both statements are examples of the same disease Dan Brown seems to suffer from............ridiculous exaggeration. I am quite sure that literally millions of people have managed to pass that same year, some chess club members and others on the pulse of edgy fiction, without any knowledge of book or film.
Anyhow, I attempted to approach the film with as much objectivity as possible, but within the first ten minutes I was subjected to a violation so unacceptable, I had to shower three times once I got home. Next time, I'll rather ask a stranger to call me a complete idiot and save myself R20.
I will gladly admit that, having not read the novel, I am not in a position to label Brown as anything. And this is precisely why I decided to go and see the movie. I know that celluloid could never be an accurate yard stick for the quality of a novel it may be based upon, but the key issue for me was not the quality of writing (of which there is much debate), but the story. And, as my movie companion who has read the novel put it, the movie is like a tour of all the major plot points of the book. If you would look to the right, there is Major Exposition, and after tea we will pass by Pointless Character Flashback and Quizzical Female Expression. Everything in the film was pedantically faithful to the novel, yet somehow failed to resemble a coherent story. Ron Howard seems to have been put up on a pedestal as the architect of this horrendous failure. Fans of the novel seem to think he has failed them on some personal level, while detractors laugh at his failure to take what seemed like a sure-thing and somehow contrive to get it wrong.
I may have had one of two technical gripes with the film, but it was quite clear to me that the source matter was riddled with factual errors, gaping plot holes and logical knots that even Descartes could not untangle.
********SPOILER ALERT***********
The first few minutes were probably the best thing about the movie. Robert Langdon is conducting a lecture on the nature of symbols, or more specifically our very human inclinations to misinterpret them. Quite frankly, I could've happily listened to this lecture for an hour, but it was not to be. Instead, I have to witness a clunky murder scene in which a museum curator, separated from his assailant by a steel gate, somehow still manages to get himself shot. Yet the monstrous, hulking and scary albino who is the assailant (none of which Paul Bettany manages to pull off, through no fault of his own) only manages to shoot him in the stomach. This is the 'assassin' who has just offed four other members of the Priory of Scion, yet he doesn't finish off the job? Did he only have one bullet left? But that's not even the kicker. The curator, bleeding profusely from the stomach, through some heady sense of job dedication acquires an invisible marker, runs through the Louvre to write cryptic messages next to works of art, runs back to the scene of the shooting, writes more cryptic messages on the floor, strips naked, draws a pentacle on his torso and lies down to die in a position which recalls a famous Da Vinci sketch.
Now do you understand the need for three showers!?!?! I mean, surely it would have taken less effort to pick up a phone, call Robert Langdon and tell him "I've just been shot, but I've hidden a clue behind a Da Vinci painting..."? Not only does he write clues, but he still has the ability to use anagrams with a bullet in the gut!!!!!!!
This is followed by a few chase scenes, one of which is a result of the Paris police all but abandoning the scene of the crime to chase after a tracking device which our intrepid hero has dropped into a truck from the window of the Louvre, the other which sees Audrey Tatou's character (a police cryptographer) suddenly exhibit her ability to drive a Smart car, in reverse, like a veteran stunt performer. Perhaps I do the Paris Police Training Department a disservice, and all recruits learn how to drive like that when they first enlist.
If you haven't read the book or seen the movie, I apologise, but I'm not going to bore the hell out of you by explaining the 'Great Exposition' scene, deftly handled by Ian McKellan as the knowledgeable Teabing. Suffice to say that apparently, early Christians did not believe in Christ's divinity, Emperor Constantine was behind the manipulation of the Council of Nicea, the Gospel of Philip is evidence of the romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary, the Holy Grail is in fact the body of Mary and that (shockhorror) Mary and Jesus were married and had kids. We are shown Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper, and are admonished for never noticing that there isn't a Grail on the table, and that one of the figures is clearly a woman. Silly us! How could we never have seen the obvious! I mean, how foolish were we to think that simply because the bible never mentions the Holy Grail and that Da Vinci's painting has nothing to do with the Grail, this means the Grail shouldn't be there? Shame on us for having believed most Da Vinci and fine art experts who say that the female figure is in fact John, and is depicted in a manner which was customary for that time! Thank you Teabing, for revealing to us the truth that the church included the biblical gospels as we know them to manipulate our image of Christ and to further their evil ends, and that thousands of other manuscripts...er...gospels existed that were simply cast aside! The fact that these 'forgotten' gospels number only a handful and that most contradict each other (Gospel of Thomas, anyone?) is irrelevant. Oh, and 2000 odd years is only enough to have one last surviving member of Christ's bloodline. The Holy family obviously didn't like sex much.
But what do I know? Dan Brown must have spent years engaged in serious scholarly research, and I don't even have a degree in Theology or anything.
Oh, shit, that's right. He didn't, and I do.
You've been patient with me thus far, and I thank you, but I won't subject you to this rant for much longer. The rest of the film winds its way through supposedly clever puzzles (APPLE, I mean, for crying out loud), a few more chase scenes (I really needed that extra scene that shows us how they escaped from the police after the plane landed. No, really, the whole time I was wondering 'How'd they do it!'). a close shave with our S&M albino (who perishes in a scene that makes no sense whatsoever) and an empty, safe and wonderfully PC ending. I'd also like to thank the writer for conveniently making all the puzzles in English.
But it's only fiction! Oh really, then what the bloody hell is all the fuss about!?!?!?! But it encourages us to not blindly believe what we're told, to question religion and the nature of things. It does? Oh, so by stating that your book is based on fact is actually a clever ruse and is the very essence of irony. I mean, there are no better sources to base our crisis of faith upon......
I have a theory, a theory as to why so many people who loved the book, hate the movie. All the movie truly does is this; it strips from us the ability to use our imaginations, it reveals the 'barebones' of the story, no fluff, no excess fat or embellishment. People are beginning to realise just how badly they were duped, and now they're pissed off. No one wants to be shown how easily they were taken in.
Why do we have no clues as to what Jesus did with almost 20 years of his life? The most enigmatic, most important historical figure and supposed Son of God, and we only know about a third of his life? Now THERE is an opening for all you Dan Brown wannabes!!!! (and yes, I know those points are debatable, I'm being sarcastic. No, I only have that form of wit.)
Okay, rant finished.


10 Responses to “So Dark the Con of Dan........”

  1. Anonymous kyknoord 

    How do you feel about friends calling you a complete idiot & saving you R20?

  2. Anonymous FRQSTR=19023820x242895:1:10080|19023820|19023820|19023820|19023820 

    One thing. It's everyone in Paris learns to drive like that. Survival, they call it.

  3. Anonymous anne 

    That is one very bizarre id your site gives me.

  4. Anonymous Fence 

    I normally don't read reviews of films I haven't seen, but obviously, given this is your first post in so long (how'd the studying go?) I had to. Sides I neither read the book nor feel any great desire to go see it.

    But your review makes me want to. It sounds so terrible it needs to be watched.

    and quoted

  5. Anonymous transience 

    i read the book to see for myself how dan brown bastardized umberto eco. :) i have yet to see the film.

    i like your review...and your sarcasm, too. cheers.

  6. Anonymous Kelly 

    Fm, that was BRILLIANT.

  7. Anonymous banzai cat 

    Bravo, FM, bravo. Truer words have never been spoken.

    To paraphrase a quote, "We watch dumb movies so you don't have to." Thank for your sacrifice. This way, I won't have to take showers thrice. ;-)

  8. Anonymous NineMoons 

    Brilliant. I think I could have read on for another few hours. I'm soooooo glad I never read the book. I suffered through Brown's poor writing and ridiculous plot-points in Angels and Demons, which I read while locked out of my flat with NOTHING else to do, so I swore I'd never read the Da Vinci Code. And then I said I wouldn't go see the film, just because of all the hype and crappy reviews and the MORONS who are having their alleged faith altered by this work of FICTION... but now maybe Fence and I can go see it and laugh our asses off at its awfulness. Maybe we could get drunk first. Hmmmm.
    Glad you're back. You Tomosexual bastard. ;-)

  9. Anonymous Carl V. 

    Loved the rant, FM! I haven't read the book...less because of my beliefs and more because it so quickly became the 'it' thing that my book snobbishness kicked in and I said, "no thank you". I also have no desire to see the movie. I'm sorry that Howard is taking all the heat for this as surely it isn't entirely his fault. Despite all the complaints it still made a big chunk of money stateside this past weekend, so evidently word of mouth isn't completely stopping people from going to see it.

  10. Anonymous jenn see 

    i'm developing a compulsion:

    "thwack"
    Foucault's Pendulum!

    "thwack"
    Foucault's Pendulum!

    "thwack"
    Foucault's Pendulum!

    (the "thwack" is me smacking people across the back of the head with the paperback i'd like to be carrying around for this purpose...)

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