Da Vinci Code Backs Away From Book

The Da Vinci Code movie deviates only subtly from the best-selling book on which it is based by making the lead character a man of some faith.

The novel by Dan Brown posits the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered her child, two ideas that have incited protest from the faithful around the world.

The film opens the Cannes Film Festival tonight.

Screened for critics Tuesday in Los Angeles, the film offers more skepticism to the theory of Jesus’ marriage and fatherhood than Brown wrote.

In the movie, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) expresses doubt about that idea.

At one climactic point, Langdon says, “History shows Jesus was an extraordinary man. Why couldn’t Jesus have been divine and still have been a father?”

That line was not in the book.

The filmmakers try to back off from a hard-line stance on the question of Jesus’ divinity. Says Langdon, near the end of the film, “What matters is what you believe.”

Contrary to rumors about the script, there are no scenes of Jesus and Mary Magdalene romantically involved.

However the movie doesn’t shy away from portraying members of Opus Dei, a conservative Catholic sect, as ruthless and nefarious.

The Da Vinci Code

So error-laden is The Da Vinci Code that the educated reader actually applauds those rare occasions where Brown stumbles (despite himself) into the truth. […] In the end, Dan Brown has penned a poorly written, atrociously researched mess.
Source: Dismantling The Da Vinci Code By Sandra Miesel, Crisis, Sep. 1, 2003

It graphically portrays the self-flagellation of its most dedicated members. Paul Bettany, as the albino monk from Opus Dei, is shown beating himself and wearing a cilice belt around the thigh that is meant to approximate the pain Jesus endured on the cross.

Like the book, the movie puts forth the notion that the church orchestrated a cover-up that Jesus had a line of descendants.

The movie focuses more on mysticism and spirituality and eliminates the romance between Langdon and police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou).

The movie opens in theaters worldwide on Friday.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday:

• The Indian government stopped the release because of protests, and a hunger strike was launched there.

• South Korea courts refused a request from Christian groups to block the film’s opening, saying the petition lacked merit.

• In Thailand, the censorship board had not yet responded to a request to cut scenes out of the movie that are seen as disrespectful to Jesus.

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May 17, 2006
Claudia Puig

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)