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Literature: The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code is a 2003 thriller written by Dan Brown. It sold 80 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the bestselling novels in history. It also caused a huge controversy because of its statements about early Christianity, and was sharply criticized for historical inaccuracy. In 2006, a film adaptation was released.

The story begins with a museum curator getting killed, setting a historian framed for the murder and his newfound lady co-investigator on a puzzle quest for the Holy Grail.

Contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Bishop Aringarosa gets this in The Movie. In the book, he's just the leader of Opus Dei (where he's presented as nothing more than an unusually conservative Catholic prelate) who gets roped into helping The Teacher find the tomb out of desperation to keep his order from being abolished. In The Movie, he leads a secretive "shadow council" within the Church that actively wants to destroy the tomb to prevent evidence of Jesus' bloodline from reaching the public, and he manipulates Fache (who's an Opus Dei member in the movie) into hunting down Langdon despite his innocence.
  • Ancient Conspiracy:
    • Subverted. It turns out to be the work of a lone nutjob with an agenda. All the power players seemingly acting in concert against our heroes turn out to be un-associated individuals merely acting on poor information.
    • Though in the movie, due to Adaptational Villainy, it turns out that there actually is a secret faction within the Catholic Church that actively wants to find and destroy Mary Magdalene's tomb.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The Priory of Sion guards the Holy Grail.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Priory of Sion.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: In the movie, Langdon kisses Sophie on the forehead at the end.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Sort of; Adventurer Symbologist (a made up discredited discipline) in this case.
  • Artistic License – Biology: In The Movie, the Catholic Church's "shadow council" wants to destroy Mary Magdalene's tomb to prevent evidence of Jesus' bloodline from reaching the public. They seem to think that having access to DNA samples from Mary Magdalene's corpse would, by itself, give someone a way to prove that she and Jesus had children. Actually, it would just prove that she had children at some point (not exactly an Earth-shattering revelation). Proving that Jesus fathered her children would require a DNA sample from Jesus too.
    • Albinism is often linked to poor eyesight due to lack of pigment in the eyes as a result of being melanin-deficient. Silas would most likely be a very poor candidate to be what is effectively an assassin, since shooting at long distances and being able to drive at night is part of the job description.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • Much is made of the Holy Grail legend's significance to Christianity, even though the Holy Grail isn't actually mentioned in any canonical Christian text. The Grail legend wasn't spawned until the 12th century, and it's solely the product of Arthurian literature. This is why the Grail doesn't appear in Leonardo's "The Last Supper" (not to mention that Leonardo, being Italian, wouldn't have had much reason to paint a Macguffin from a French/British chivalric romance in one of his biblical scenes).
    • Then there's the whole the goddess thing. It's implied that all Pagan religions worshiped feminine beings in a similar way, and that it made them more peaceful as a society.
  • Author Catchphrase: "My friends..."
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Leonardo was part of a ancient group that knew the secret of Jesus.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Aringarosa is Italian for "Red Herring", indicating he isn't the Big Bad.
    • Not quite. "Aringarosa" should be translated more properly as pink herring, and the character itself is supposed to be of Spanish origins.
  • Book Ends: The story begins and ends with a dead body in the Louvre. The first time it's Jacques Saunière's body. The second time it's the corpse of Mary Magdalene, whose tomb was hidden under the Louvre by the Priory of Sion.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Using planks as parachutes.
  • The Chessmaster: Teabing is revealed to be either controlling all the important characters or at least planning around their actions.
  • Claustrophobia: Langdon. He is in every book.
  • Conflict Ball: It's not immediately clear just what the antagonists are fighting over. The Evil Albino and Aringarosa want to keep the secret of Mary Magdalene a secret. The Priory has kept their knowledge of Mary Magdalene secret for centuries.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Sophie, becomes a plot point later on.
  • Cunning Linguist: Averted, especially in the movie, in which it's more than obvious that Langdon (as well as Tom Hanks who portrays him) knows absolutely nothing about French and can only react to familiar phrases (such as his own name); at other times he just looks at Sophie expectantly. How he managed to become a world-renown expert in symbols while only knowing English is anyone's guess.
  • Dan Browned: Helped inspire the trope.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Both Sophie's parents are killed in a car accident when she was young, making her Conveniently an Orphan raised by her grandfather.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: Silas wears a spiked chain around his right thigh.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Langdon throws the cryptex to distract the villain, who tries and fails to catch it.
  • Driving Stick: Langdon's inability to do this briefly delays a getaway.
  • Eureka Moment: Saturated with them-the final one is unseen but heavily implied.
  • Evil Albino: Silas. As inaccurate as the portrayal of albinism is, the use of the trope is arguably justified. Silas' father was an alcoholic thug who abused his son because of his freakish appearance, forcing Silas to run away from home as a teenager and turn to crime to survive. He's not an evil hitman because of his albinism, but it's understandable that his treatment might lead to some unsavory career choices.
  • Fantastic Catholicism
  • Fleur de Lis
  • Follow the Leader: Created an explosion of Ancient Conspiracy quests *cough* National Treasure *cough* and books about the Holy Grail. Also, this was was inspired by a "nonfiction" book which is about a conspiracy theory similar to the one Langdon runs into.
  • Heel Realization: Silas has one: "I am a ghost."
  • The Heavy: Silas is not the Big Bad, though he kicks off the plot and continues to be an antagonist throughout.
  • Hollywood Law: Dan Brown seems to be under the impression that all it takes to extradite a British national from their own country is for a foreign law enforcement agent to make a call to a local police officer. Also he seems to think that said local police will simply detain the suspects until the foreign police arrive to make the arrests themselves.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Briefly played with in the movie. When Fache first brings Langdon to the Louvre (secretly suspecting him of being Sauniere's murderer), Langdon mentions that the murder took place in the Grand Gallery before Fache tells him where the body was found. Langdon, with his extensive knowledge of art, actually just recognized the Grand Gallery's distinctive parquet floor in the crime scene photograph, but he inadvertently ends up making himself look even guiltier.
  • Inspector Javert: Bezu Fache.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted. Getting shot in the stomach leaves Saunière enough time (and strength) to move about the gallery some more before dying.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "You are a ghost!" becomes this for Silas, who admits to himself "I am a ghost" at the end.
    • "Only the worthy find the Grail" becomes this for Teabing, who gets this spat back at him by Langdon.
  • Knight Templar: The original Knights Templar figure heavily in the Ancient Conspiracy Alternate History of the book. Ironically, practically all the antagonists of the book also follow this trope, being extremely moral Anti-Villains, Well Intentioned Extremists, or just badly misinformed. This is most evident in the Teacher, Sir Leigh Teabing, a Knight of the British Empire who also sees himself as furthering the good works of the original Knights Templar.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: The cryptex; a moderately clever way to protect a secret message - basically a combination lock with a vial of vinegar to destroy the encased papyrus should one attempt to open it without the password(s).
  • Meaningful Rename: "Silas" isn't actually Silas' birth name. He discarded the name that his parents gave him, and was later rechristened "Silas" by Bishop Aringarosa because the circumstances of his escape from prison match those of Silas, the apostle Paul's accomplice in the Book of Acts.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: A very good example of it, at that.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: In the film, Langdon is making a conference. He shows part of an image of a swastika, everyone thinks about Nazis, then Langdon shows the complete image, with a clearly Buddhist context.
  • Only in It for the Money: Remy makes it clear that he only serves Teabing because he's getting paid to. He seemingly betrays Teabing for a large sum of cash before it's revealed that it was an act orchestrated by Teabing himself.
  • Out-Gambitted: Langdon does this to Teabing by fooling him into thinking that he couldn't open the cryptex, not even at gunpoint. After the knight is apprehended and in custody, he realizes that Langdon figured it out and removed the secret beforehand.
  • Parallel Porn Titles:
    • The Da Vinci Load. Currently on the second installment.
    • The Da Vinci Co-Ed is another one.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: Robert Langdon never sleeps or visits the bathroom in the book, until the end.
  • Poirot Speak: Dan Brown's foreign language dialogue is almost unmatched in how ham-handed and unrealistic it is. Almost every bit of dialogue by a French person (and the first part of the book is set in Paris) features one or two words of French in otherwise flawless English, and it's almost always a simple, common word. In real life, people speaking a language that is foreign to them would probably lapse into their native tongue for the unfamiliar or unknown words, not "mister" and "captain".
    • On the other hand, it doesn't seem to be a problem in the movie: basically all of the French, Spanish and Italian characters manage to speak English without resorting to their native languages (understandably, sometimes they'll say a particular word in a pretty distinctive fashion, reminiscent of that of their mother tongue). In fact, their English is surprisingly good, especially when we take into account the fact that the French, Spanish, and Italians are not traditionally well known for their command of English.
      • On the other hand, sometimes their use of English seems out of place: why does Jacques Sauniere and Silas talk English when they are both French?
  • Primal Scene: Sophie's falling out with her grandfather is over this; when she was younger she caught him in the middle of a sex ritual.
  • Raised by Grandparents: After becoming an orphan, Sophie is raised by her grandfather from an early age.
  • Real Is Brown: The flashbacks are set in a grayish tone.
  • Red Herring: As in all Dan Brown books, but literally in this case:"Aringarosa" is Italian guessed it.
  • Refuge in Audacity: How Teabing manages to get past the British police, who are looking for him and the fugitives he's harboring: sheer balls.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Remy Legaludec. If it weren't for that allergy, he could have gotten away with it all.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Teabing makes full use of his privileges as one of the Queen's knights to help Langdon out. It's also this and his metal crutches that let him smuggle a gun through security checkpoints.
  • Self-Destructing Security: The cryptex protects its contents with a combination lock. Attempting to force the cryptex open will break the vial of vinegar inside, which would dissolve the papyrus along with its message before it could be read. As a result, only the right password will grant access to the message.
  • The Scourge of God: Silas insists that he's doing God's will.
  • Shout-Out: Dan Brown names a main character, Leigh Teabing, anagrams of the names of the author of that "nonfiction" grail book.
  • Sinister Minister: Bishop Aringarosa in The Movie, due to Adaptational Villainy, along with his co-conspirators within the Catholic Church.
  • Trend Covers: Many, many historical/religious/conspiracy thriller novels got similar covers after this one's success.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Silas mistakes Sir Leigh Teabing for being just an old cripple, and he pays for it.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Silas, Remy, and Aringarosa.
  • Welcomed To The Masquerade: The film adaptation has cryptologist Robert Langdon unearth ancient geneology research that detective Sophie Neveu is a descendant of Jesus Christ, and is under the protection of the Priory of Sion, which is the 21st century form of the Knights Templar.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Silas, again. Also Leigh Teabing.

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alternative title(s): The Da Vinci Code
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