Suspense and thriller movies have always seemed to attract the audience. With major ups and downs in the story line keeping the suspense to its peak, the interest of the viewer is indulged in the movie throughout. Many thriller movies have made it to the top charts by keeping the high level of suspense within the movies. In 2006, a film named The Da Vinci Code was released which was the second most grossing film of the year but soon sparked a major controversy on its authenticity since the film was based on some unexpected historical facts and figures.
The Da Vinci Code – Novel
Prior to the movie, The Da Vinci Code made its first appearance in the form of a novel which was written by Dan Brown in 2003. The Da Vinci Code was a symbologist movie which was based on a murder in Louvre Museum in Paris. This caused Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu to be involved in a battle between Priory of Sion and Opus Dei with a controversy of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene having a child together. The novel focused on religious history and went up till the bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. The book also used “The Holy Blood” and “The Holy Grail” .
Following the release of the book, it was considered as a major controversy and attack towards the Christianity religion. Many Christian denominations considered this book as an attack on the Catholic Church and claimed that the facts and figures highlighted in the book were not accurate. The controversy of the book was one of the main reasons as to why it got so popular that it was translated into 44 languages and was a Worldwide Bestseller with more than 80 million copies sold till 2009. A film was also made on the novel by the same name and was released in 2006.
The Da Vinci Code – Movie
The movie was released 3 years after the novel was published. It was directed by Ron Howard and the screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman. Since it was the bestselling novel with major contradictions to history, the film was an immediate success unless it was banned in multiple countries. The film grossed $224 million in the week that it had its opening and a total of $760 million was earned worldwide in the year which made it the second highest grossing film of 2006 after the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
Mostly, the film received a number of negative reviews from the critics. Generally, the audience liked it, but many had a negative view about it as well. The film made it to headlines of many news channels which is one of the most important reasons as to why the film got so popular. Despite receiving negative feedback from the critics, there were two more sequels to this film as well which were generally not as contradictory and negative. These include Angels & Demons (2009) and Inferno (2016).
Story Line of the Film
The stars of the film included Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Jean Reno, and Paul Bettany. The story starts from the murder of Jacques Saunier whose body has unusually cipher and marks. The prime suspect escapes and begins a quest for Holy Grail. Opus Del, a secret cabal, also searches for the Holy Grail and wishes to keep the true grail a secret else there would be destruction of Christianity.
The heart-racing quest of the film to solve the bizarre mystery is what has taken the interest of the audience to the next level. The film was a first-rate thriller mainly due to the fact that it was somewhat based on true facts and figures. Today, the film is also known with the phrase of the bible-conspiracy theory.
Reactions by Religious Organizations
The Catholic Church was the main organization that gave a very harsh critical feedback on the film as well as on the novel. It accused that the film was based on a two-thousand-year-old cover-up on what the Holy Grail actually is as well as the concept of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene being married. The film also showed that their union produced a daughter as well as its treatment of organizations Priory of Sion and Opus Dei. The Catholic Church was among the first ones to call for a full boycott and ban of the film for not being historically accurate.
The Catholic Organization of Opus Dei stated that it does not intend any boycotts even though the organization was a major topic of discussion in the film. It asked Sony Pictures to consider the editing of the movie such that it does not hurt the sentimental values of the Catholics.
The American Catholic Bishops took the protest to the next level by having a website launched with the name of Jesusdecoded.com which refuted the claims in the novel that were also in the screenplay. The bishops protested by saying there were errors and serious misstatements in The Da Vinci Code which harmed the image of Christianity as well as Jesus Christ himself. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the depiction of Jesus-Mary relationship was false which is why the film was called as morally offensive.
Religious protests emerged all over the United States including the major theatres where the film was being held. The protests were on the primary cause that The Da Vinci Code was a film that was blasphemous and shamed the Catholic Church as well as Jesus Christ. Shortly before opening in many countries such as Greece, protestors had a tough strike and one on one action against the police.
In many states, the religious organizations threatened mass scale protests which led to the banning of screening of this film. These states include Philippines, Pittsburgh, Pakistan, Syria, Belarus, Jordan, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, China, Egypt, Faroe Islands, and India as well.
The average rating of the film according to the critics has been 4.75 / 10. Michael Medved said that the film was an attack on the religion without evidently proving to the common public as to whether these facts were right or wrong. Many religious critics said that the common public does not have as much information to have the idea that the film is right or wrong which is why they might believe what they are being shown. Leonard Maltin said that the film was a letdown in every manner.
Negative reviews on the hand of the critics were one of the main reasons why the director was frustrated with the film. The television show Ebert &Roeper that was held in 2007 stated that the film was the second Worst Movie of 2006.
True or Not?
According to Dan Brown, author of the original book, Priory of Sion as well as the descriptions of different elements of the film which include artwork, secret hidden documents, rituals, and the overall architecture within the novel are accurate. However, Opus Dei said that Dan Brown’s book had a deformed image of the church. Nonetheless, Opus Dei still said that they would use the opportunity of movie release to educate the people about the church.
Opus Dei also stated that the movie should be named as pure fiction so that it creates the image that any resemblance to reality is a coincidence. However, none of these suggestions by Opus Dei were incorporated towards the release of the final film.
Muslim nations such as Pakistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Belarus said that the film has major contradictions with the Holy Books of Quran and Bible when it comes to Jesus, his life events, and his personality. In China, Catholic Groups said that they could definitely prove that this was not history and the purposeful image destruction of Jesus would mean that the filmmaker needs to be punished.
The Da Vinci Code is a movie which has been controversial for many people and organizations. However, when it comes to actually evaluating as to whether the movie was factually correct or not, many critics and experts at history suggested that 70% of what has been shown in the movie be it people or events appears to be true without any form of discrimination or false information. Therefore, it cannot be considered as an entirely true story but of what can be called as mostly true. Keeping that in mind, it actually does impact the image of Christianity and significantly affects what people think.