Thursday, November 16, 2006

the da vinci code

Never did see this one, my feelings ranging from indifferent to hostile. But the dvd just came out, or is about to come out, or something, and some word ought to be entered into the public record. For my spokesperson, I have selected Kevin Jackson of Sight & Sound: his ruminations appeared in the July issue.

Since it is hardly an arcane and closely guarded secret that Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's THE DA VINCI CODE is achingly dull, it seems only sporting to note some of the ways in which the film significantly improves on the book.

One, the viewer does not have to wade through Brown's execrable prose; the merits of this deletion can hardly be overstated.

Two, though Hanks brings no more than a slighly baffled Everyguy decency and an unusual, medium-long haircut to the role of Robert Langdon, said to be a professor of "religious symbology," he is far more likeable and less of a pompous bore than his prose counterpart, who (the fact is embarrassingly obvious within about two pages) is an adolescent dream version of the author himself ("a dark stubble was shrouding the strong jaw and dimpled chin... His female colleagues insisted the grey only accented his bookish appeal..." Phwoar, missus.)

Three, similarly, though Audrey Tautou, playing cryptographer Sophie Neveu, is given almost nothing to do with her part except look worried and dismayed, she is... well, Audrey Tautou. Red-blooded chaps will not find it too hard to stay awake during her scenes. ...

...Purists might find (Howard's) decision to stage the Council of Nicaea as a cross between closing time at the New York stock exchange and a football riot a trifle dubious, but there is an undeniable frisson in seeing the tenets of Christianity being thrashed out in hooligan manner...

Just when things almost get cracking, it's time to stop dead for yet more specious drivel about the Knights Templar. The result is stodgy, but also confusing, at least for those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the book: after the screening I attended, the auditorium echoed with questions like "so who was the monk in the car?" and "doesn't the Louvre have security cameras?"

Theological debate was notably absent; the Catholic Church will probably remain unshaken for quite a while yet.

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