4.23.2006

Re-Evaluating Da Vinci

When the fervor of The Da Vinci Code first began, I was intent on learning exactly what it was about this book that was creating such a fantasitc controversy in the religious community. After all, it is a work of fiction, and I reveled in the irony that was created when those faithful to another work of writing with questionable footing in reality- the Bible- became so fantasically threatened by something like this. In fact, I think it was they more than Dan Brown's book alone who caused the novel to become more important than it otherwise would have been, but I have to give some credit to Mr. Brown. Although I found The Code to be a thin, pedestrian read in an artistic sense, he added many elements to the novel based in fact which caused people to not only suspend disbelief but blow it to smithereens.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. Anything which generates important discussion is a worthy addition to the world, and the Da Vinci Code did just that. The non-fiction version of the story can be found in the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, where we learn more about the theories behind what the Holy Grail really is- at least according to some. That book creates compelling arguments about the origins of Christianity that cannot be ignored. Even though I am not religious, at least in the Judeo-Christian sense, I find discussions on this topic to be nothing short of fascinating, because religion integrates so many aspects of the our existence. Like it or not, our cultural foundations have been shaped heavily by the human need to succumb to a higher power, and anything that helps us to understand this phenomenon more in-depth is a reason for pursue it.

So I'm re-reading The Da Vinci Code in anticipation for the release of the upcoming Ron Howard film. I'm doing this because it is in my nature to compare the literary and cinematic versions of the same material, even though more often than not I set myself up for disappointment when I do this. In this case, however, I think I am safe. As I stated earlier, The Da Vinci Code for all of its controversial revelations, was not an overly thrilling read for me. It's one of those books that if you had an afternoon with nothing else to do, you could finish it from cover to cover and still have time to make dinner. In fact, I think that The Code will make a better film than a book because it will not be caught up in Dan Brown's amatuer narration, and it will better flesh out his under-developed chracters and perhaps make me actually care about them. And Ron Howard should actually be safe from any criticisms for taking liberties with source material (unlike with A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man), because the nature of the source is itself mired in controversy.

I intend to revisit this topic once I finish reading the book for a second time. I'm wondering if my initial evaluation will change, if I will still be fascinated by the historal aspects of the book, but still think it is the literary equivalent of eating Twinkies.

That will likely be the case, but I am looking forward to the movie.

2 comments:

  1. I'm with you on the Da Vinci Code - I loved the factual background information Dan Brown put in, it was way more interesting than his characters. But I think the movie will probably end up being pretty enjoyable.

    And I'm still just so impressed that the book created the controversy it did.

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  2. I probably won't see the movie til it's out on video. I read it and have already forgotten most of it! No, I lied, I remember the key elements, which is more than I can say for most books I've only read once! I don't know if I can like the characters in the movie because Tom Hanks' hair looks so bad. We'll see...

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