Like thousands of other Americans, I contributed to the fortunes of Tom Hanks and Ron Howard Friday by seeing their Da Vinci Code movie which had one of the biggest opening weekends of all time. At times the movie was exciting and kept my attention quite well with mystery, action and suspense. A couple of times the suspense was enough to elicit audible gasps from the audience. At other times I found myself wishing my watch glowed in the dark so I could see how much more of this I had to endure—the movie could have been improved by leaving thirty to forty more minutes on the cutting room floor. The movie followed the plot of the book pretty well but the implausibility’s in the book were sometimes magnified to the point where some of the plot seemed awkward if not just plain dumb.
The anti-Christian bigotry in the book is actually toned down in the movie. Most of the anti-Christian rhetoric comes from Teabing, who ends up looking like a crazy old coot. At times, Tom Hanks character, Robert Langdon, actually tries to soften the force of some of Teabing’s anti-Christian rhetoric and in the end, Langdon even recalls praying to Jesus during a time when he survived a life threatening event.
In the movie, as in the book, an evil albino monk from Opus Dei—there are no monks in Opus Dei—whips himself viciously, leaving deep scars on his back. I was on a panel yesterday with a Catholic seminary professor whose priest is a member of Opus Dei. This professor said that the only thing his Opus Dei priest has encouraged him to do is give up coffee and sugar for a time as a sign of dedication to God. Give up sugar? Are you kidding? I think I’d rather give myself a few whacks on the back! :-)
Overall, the movie was not as in-your-face offensive as the book, but on the other hand, the essential message of the book still came through loud and clear. That message is that Jesus was married, with children, and was never even thought of as God until the fourth century AD when some powerful Christian bishops voted on the matter and then destroyed or eliminated from the New Testament all the many gospels that speak of Jesus as only human and not God.