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“The Da Vinci Code” Movie stirs up Critics before Opening Night

May 16th, 2006

“The Da Vinci Code” stirs ups the Critics before its Opening Night

Dan Brown's
The Da Vinci Code

Ron Howard’s movie, “The Da Vinci Code” which opens on May 19th has lots of critics from religious leaders to historians that point out why they believe it is more fiction than fact. The movie is based on Dan Brown's bestselling novel with the same name.

“The Da Vinci Code” is stirring up the Roman Catholic Church who is asking for a boycott of movie goers to not pay to see this movie.  They have asked Ron Howard to put a disclaimer on the movie out of respect to Christians.  Howard has declined their request.  A senior government official wanted to ban the movie in the Philippines because it is blasphemous.

NBC’s Today show is traveling through Europe to view the paintings and locations that the movie and novel have referenced.  In their reports they are showing special “Da Vinci Code” tours throughout Europe that will let you see the clues from the story in person.

 

There are a few historians and experts that believe the novel and movie are more entertaining fiction than fact.  Here are what some of the experts believe makes the movie and book for entertainment and not a real history lesson.

Jennifer Lee who is an assistant professor of art history at the Herron School of Art and Design on the IUPUI campus reflects on Da Vinci’s paintings and points out some misleading ideas “The Da Vinci Code” uses to interpret the symbols in the paintings.  Lee has expertise in medieval art and architecture, Italian Renaissance art, along with art of medieval popular culture.

Lee states the following that put “The Da Vinci Code” as a fiction versus fact position:

“Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating artists from the Renaissance. Anyone who studies his paintings will find many things to wonder at. However, the points that ‘The Da Vinci Code’ focuses on aren’t the real questions. ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is a work of fiction. It’s a very entertaining book, but it shouldn't be taken as history.”

“At the time Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper, there was a long established tradition of portraying John with his head resting on Christ’s shoulder to indicate their close friendship. John was the younger man, and artists traditionally represented youth with feminizing attributes. Leonardo does do some unusual things with the placement of his figures in The Last Supper, but by Renaissance standards, he isn’t doing anything unusual with the characters themselves. It only looks surprising if you approach it with modern eyes. To Renaissance eyes, the figure on Christ's right wouldn't look like a woman as the book suggests.

 

“The Vitruvian Man’ is probably Leonardo's most famous drawing. It's called ‘Vitruvian Man’ because it's derived from a first-century Roman architectural treatise written by Vitruvius. Vitruvius is describing the proportions of the human body with the intention of applying them to architecture. By making the drawing, Leonardo was demonstrating his knowledge of the ancient text. Architecture was part of the skill set that an artist like Leonardo offered to his patron and employer, the Duke of Milan.”

“The Da Vinci Code” could also represent the ideas of society and the mistrust that people have toward religions in general.

Phillip Goff who is the director of the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture and associate professor of religious studies and American studies in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI believes it is a reflection of society’s fears of religion.

Goff explains how the novel and movie attract the interest of so many people.

“The phenomenal success of the book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the likely success of the movie owes a great deal to some of the prevailing religious attitudes of Americans. For the past two decades millions of Americans have left their historic religious traditions in search of truth in upstart congregations and in alternative religious literature. The advent of the World Wide Web only hastened the practice of finding religious knowledge and alternative faiths outside traditional means. Various scandals in the Church also heightened the suspicion with which millions of Americans began to view institutional religion. The result is a culture of mistrust of institutional religion that is beginning to look back at the early days of the faith with suspicion as well. “The Da Vinci Code” has been said to shake the faith of some believers, but ultimately it is an exciting story that taps into an existing culture of mistrust of religious institutions, both past and present.”

 

“The Da Vinci Code” has undermined and convinced many people otherwise.  Surveys by Opinion Research Business (ORB) of people in Britain showed that the book has affected their views and beliefs.  The readers were twice as likely to believe that Jesus Christ fathered children compared to those that have not read the book.   They were four times more likely than non-readers of the book to believe that the Catholic groups, Opus Dei are murderers.  The survey was funded by certain Catholic Church groups; however the survey company is a third party company which shows that the book has impacted many people perceptions.

Will “The Da Vinci Code” be the sell out of this summer?  We will soon find out.

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Nicole Wilson
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Keywords and misspellings: davinci code divinci da vinchi book novle novel movie release daniel brown dan sceptic opinions cathoilcism catholic religeon dvd movy movey


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