Which will be difficult because I am past caring...even as I am torqued. I guess I'm wishing I didn't have to care.
I'm not going to attempt to imitate the many delightful reviews that have been written so far - I agee with them, although it is really challenging to judge a movie like this objectively because, of course, I'm not objective, I'm depressingly familiar with the source material, and again...I'm not objective.
So, in terms of quality - the reviews are correct. It's a slow, plodding, faithful, paint-by-numbers adaptation, with a hollowness at the center which I blame mostly, aside from various directing choices on Tom Hanks. The more I think about it, the more cautious his performance is - it's as if the only way he knew to communicate "serious scholar" was to just not have any emotional life.
But anyway, that's really not what I'm looking at. What about the way that the Mess Which Is "History" is presented? And is it anti-Catholic?
The "history" is, of course, dreadful, just as in the book. What bothers me most is the total hash that's made of history. It strikes me that if you really, really, wanted to, you could do some sort of Priory of Sion nonsense story without just lying about everything around it. I don't get why you would want to do that, but in case you did, you probably could.
But..the list of lies told about history in this film echoes, naturally enough, the novel, and because it covers less, they stand out more. The lie that "the Vatican" was the power behind the suppression of the Knights Templar - well, the characterization of the Knights Templar, period. The flashback in this involved guys in big pointy hats watching Templars burn.
The most outrageous lies involved early Christian history, of course. What stands out are Teabing's assertion that 300 years after Christianity had been founded by this nice guy Jesus, the Christians grew in power to the point that they were starting to get belligerant to the pagans. They instigated violence. Oh, the Langdon character steps in and says something like "some say it was the othe way around," but you are left with the distinct impression that any violence during the era happened because the Christians were getting power and stated going after pagans.
This is unconsciounable. We are talking about facts here. This is more than just silly movie-making. It's a serious lie, akin to maintaining that Africans strolled on to slave ships because they wanted to go west. There may be ambiguity about certain aspects of Christian history, but this isn't one of them. Tell Perpetua and Felicity, Blandina...Paul, Peter..the martyrs of Lyons, the victims of Diocletian. Real people who died horrible deaths are having their story twisted, perverted and forgotten so a bunch of empty-headed losers who evidently lack both brains and conscience can get even richer than they already are.
And it goes on, of course. Langdon and Teabing get into a shouting match about the Council of Nicaea - to tell the truth, aside from Silas' self-scourging, this inspires the most energy in the whole film. But amid the shouting and (regrettably brief) pandemonium-in-vestments -what will stick with the viewer is Teabing's version - that this was a controversial battle to establish the divinity of Jesus.
(I wonde if anyone who reads these scripts even cares a little bit about logic. But...the "Christians" up to this point were good because they didn't believe in Jesus' divinity, I thought...so they got all full of themselves and powerful before Constantine gave them power? But...??)
Isaac Newton is presented as another victim of "the Church," implying that "the Church" in question is RC, of course. It wasn't, and the Anglican Church, as far as I can tell, didn't have a problem with Newton, even though he had unorthodox ideas (being anti-Trinitarian and more of an Arian in terms of his Christology. I guess the oppressors forgot him somehow). The Church even accomodated him, not requiring him to take Orders, as was the norm for all Fellows of Trinity College.
The Leonardo business is very dramatically shown as Teabing uses his computer to move Mary Magdalene this way and that and proclaims the lie that the Bible establishes the existence of the Holy Grail. As he reached the climax of his discourse, a woman behind me emitted a "Hmmmm" as if to say, "Now that's interesting." Did I stand up and offer a lecture? Nope. Did I want to? Yup.
The Opus Dei material is appalling and almost seems like a "F-You" to the group. I'm serious. These people are not stupid. They've had communications from Opus Dei, they know the truth. They know that Opus Dei is not as it is presented in their movie. But they went ahead anyway. They just did not care. It's pretty stunning when you think about it.
And Mary Magdalene? As I pointed out in my first post, and as Fr. John Wauck has mentioned several times, the massive weirdness of the frantic search to find the super-secret whereabouts of the relics of MM is magnified by the fact that every year, crowds of people gather in a spot in Southern France on July 22 to do just that.
I only hope against hope that a healthy percentage of moviegoers leave this marveling at the illogic of it, discerning that if Mary Magdalene is a saint in the Catholic Church they must not have been trying too hard to "hide" her. That it makes no sense to mutter endlessly about the Jesus' mortal nature but then ascribe a sort of divinity to his wife just 'cause she's his wife. Who knows.
It is hard to say how this film will impact people's understanding of Christian origins. I'm not naive to think that every single person who sees it will be unaffected by the consistent, vicious anti-Catholicism and the total mischaracterization of the Christian story. There are just enough dates and certainties sprinkled throughout to make some viewers go "hmmm." We might also mention that the one who screams loudest about the Church's oppression of "the poor, women, people of color!" is screaming this as he's being arrested fo his various dastardly deeds - Teabing, of course. But I don't know if the significance will hit anyone - the whole thing is simply so logically garbled and mysterious-for-its own sake, that my intuition is that the points that will stick will be the biggest lies, simply because they are most forcefully presented: About Opus Dei, the nature of early Christianity as either a sweet faux gnosticism or power-mad killers, about the hsitoy of Christianity as simply one of oppression, of Mary Magdalene as a maligned secret.
And note to reviewers who blow off these historical lies as just all in good fun or even not strong enough, and hence, a cause of the film's tepidness. Consistency Watch is up and running.