Reviews: The Da Vinci Code

Horrid Aftertaste

When I first read Da Vinci Code, I thought I read something inventive and fascinating. Sure it had its Hatedom, but then again everything does to some extent, and I wanted to see what was the cause of its fame and infamy in equal measure. At first I kinda liked that book, and I would read many chapters in one sitting. But in hindsight, I was looking for the cliffhangers in each chapter because the cliffhangers were at the start of the next chapter!

I finished the book thinking it wasn't a classic, but a decent book, all the same. It has decent prose, and the history in the book felt tangible; although I knew there was something fishy the moment I read the part where the Christians made war with the Romans (dude, they were persecuted by them!), and I felt the idea of the Saint Clair family line being descended from Jesus far-fetched. But I dismissed these thoughts thinking "well, National Treasure has a fake conspiracy, but it's not a horrible movie".

Then I decided to actually do my research, and researched the various claims Dan Brown made in his book. Turns out the Dead Sea Scrolls were tattered scraps of paper with holes in them, and Dan Brown decided to stretch the evidence to suit his claims of Jesus marrying Mary. And that the Last Supper painting was supposed to have hidden in it the shape of a vagina when Mary leans away from Jesus. Yes that probably is Mary, not John the Baptist, but the idea of them representing a vagina as symbolism of their "marriage" sounds far fetched. I laughed at the idea of Christians destroying evidence of their marriage, and I'm an Atheist, so faith has nothing to do with it. The idea of Jesus being the Son of God is as old as Jesus himself; Jesus didn't deny it either.

The worst part? Dan Brown, a supposed intellectual, claimed the "history" was all true!

Then there's the cliched, flat murder mystery. And the hollow characterization; just look at the number of Tropes in the Character Page!

I feel ashamed of myself for actually liking Da Vinci Code, especially how I'm normally much more discerning than this. But my discernment seems to fail me when reading that book. Maybe I didn't want to admit that I had wasted my time and money, but the popularity of books as bad as this one says something about the discernment of many readers (including myself).

Fascinating alternate history taken too seriously

The Da Vinci Code is not without its hatedom, and I'll be the first to agree that the hatedom is not undeserved. But at the same time, its not the worst book that was ever written (I shall refrain from giving examples).

Yes, there are plenty of historical inaccuracies in the book, but the alternate history that Dan Brown paints is rather fascinating, and very realistic. The main problem with the book is that its taken too seriously. The Da Vinci Code is ultimately just a piece of fiction, and people, including Dan Brown, forget the books ultimate purpose; to provide entertainment.

The books main flaw is ironically also the greatest strength of the book. Just as the historical inaccuracies have been the cause for much of the book's hatedom, the vivid alternate history is rich and colorful, and very well written. It makes the reader feel like they have lived in a world where Jesus was Mary's child, and where The Masons, Priory of Sion and Knights Templar are all keeping a big secret from the world. This vivid history is pretty much the only thing the story has going for it, though. Without it, it would be a bland thriller that uses the conventional murder mystery. Watchmen also achieves the same effect with its Alternate History, except Alan Moore wasn't trying to make readers believe that a big blue naked guy had walked the earth or think that Vietnam is part of the United States.

Kudos to the author for having realistic and sympathetic villains that aren't in it for the evulz. Most of the villains are morally gray people with sympathetic traits and motivations, which works in the stories favor when creating a vivid, realistic fictional history. And while the author appears to have some beef with Christianity (which can be rather grating at times, and this is coming from an Atheist) he doesn't see Christians as evil, but merely misguided.

I'm willing to bet that this book would receive less criticism if Dan Brown didn't screw up and announce to the world that his alternate history is accurate. And I think Dan Brown had shot himself in the foot by telling people that his fictional history is real. As a consequence, you have the fan dumb who take the book too seriously.

Truly entertaining movie!

I sometimes like to dip my toes into medieval history, I know some things but am by no means an expert, having said that this film was one of the funniest things I had seen in a long time.

Quite probably I stopped trying to take the thing seriously when it was shown that an old man had managed to crawl all the way around the Louvre (ruining several artefacts on his way) with a shot-wound in his stomach. Or was is when they were telling me that the fresco of the Last Supper had John (?) depicted with a bosom? Or maybe Mary Magdalene trotting across the continent while pregnant? Or the church suddenly! during the 16th century deciding to start witch-burning as a way to stop Magdalene's children from arising?

Ian Mc Kellen is quite mad, crippled and cool. He uses his two canes as effective weapons and spouts out delightful gibberish with such enthusiasm that we really can't stay angry at him. Tom Hanks is, well, Tom Hanks, I dislike him so I disliked him in this film but anyone who likes him in general will enjoy him here as well. I secretly think Jean Reno is the true protagonist, he was the only one with enough common sense to ignore Tom Hanks trying to be clever. Audrey Tautou was nice.

I liked how we are told that if we found Her tomb it would stop all problems in the world (because the entire world is Christian? What about Muslims and Jews who say Jesus was a prophet but not divine, how exactly is it going to change anything for them?) including, oddly enough, racism. So I would like to end by asking two questions that arose in my head: How? and Why?