Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The DaVinci Code (Yawn)

Dan Brown's wildly popular conspiracy theory comes to the big screen via Ron Howard (Opie, to those of us old enough to remember the Andy Griffith show). I overrode my natural instinct to wait for the movie to come out on DVD and went to a local theater yesterday. This was partly because the book was a pleasant surprise to me. I'd read Brown's earlier novel, Digital Fortress, and found it awful. I read The DaVinci Code figuring that its popularity meant that the author had learned something about plotting and research since the earlier book. And he had. The DaVinci Code turned out to be entertaining and suspenseful, with a nice blend of historical fact and speculation.

Alas, The DaVinci Code is one of those works whose best venue is literature. My instinct to await the DVD was the correct one. What made the book so entertaining was the suspenseful discovery of hidden messages and anagrams, all leading to a world-shaking revelation about the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ. Director Howard, apparently attracted more by the controversial aspects of the book than by its suitability to cinematic treatment, was unable to translate the intellectual satisfaction of the novel to his movie. This would be less annoying if the film didn't drag on for a tedious two and a half hours.

And Howard left out the most controversial of Brown's assertions, that Christ survived the Crucifixion and escaped to France (unless I dozed off). To Christians, offended by Brown's treatment of Christ's divinity and the real organization Opus Dei: dinna fash yoursel', laddies...only the sort of idiots who embrace conspiracy theories will be convinced; intelligent folks are capable of accepting a novel as a novel.

To those who want to see the movie: do yourself a favor, wait for the DVD.