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The Da Vinci Code
Directed by:: Ron Howard
Cast: Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

September 20, 2006

I assume that almost every one has read the book.  Anyway, here is the story.  Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is an historical symbologist who happens to be in Paris giving a lecture when a bizarre murder of an adversary occurs at the Louvre museum.

All evidence seems to implicate him in the murder.  He is tricked by devoutly religious police captain (Jean Reno) to go to the Louvre and they are planning to get him arrested for murder.  Before the axe falls, a police woman Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) who is also the grand daughter or the slain man helps him escape.  But, the police are not their only problems.  A deranged monk who is the tool of a secret Catholic society is also out to kill them.

The two embark on a journey to discover the truth. They decide to seek help from an old archeologist friend Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen) who lives alone in a large Chateau with his strange French butler/valet.

According to Sir Leigh, Christ married Mary Magdalene and they had a child. After the crucification, Mary with the help of friends ends up in Europe and the descendants of Christ eventually establish the Merovingian dynasty in Northern France and south Germany.  The descendants are protected by a secret society and they will come out when the time is right. The Catholic establishment represented by a group of rogue cardinals and bishops headed by Bishop Manuel (Alfred Molina) Planning to find the last descendant and kill him or her to maintain the status quo of the church.

Eventually, Sir Leigh double crosses Robert Langdon and Sophie and the murderous monk and the Bishop are killed.  The police captain realizes that he has been duped and Robert Langdon finds the last descendant who happens to be young innocent woman. 


This is a case of mixing facts and fiction and coming up with a wonderfully taut story.

As far as facts are concerned, it is true that initially there were several branches of Christianity. Many of them did not believe in the trinity.  Constantine who was trying to unite his empire, and was influenced by his devout Christian mother Elena, gathered all the bishop in Nicaea in 325 and actually forced them to come with one unified view of Christianity.  This is the concept that universally we know to this day.  Throughout the following centuries any one who did not accept this theory was branded a heretic and either banished or burned at the stake.

Merovingians were one of the first European dynasties established in Europe, after the fall of the Roman Empire and during the Dark Ages () They Merovingians kingdom was based on the feudal system where the king had some limited power and the individual barons owed him their allegiance. Gradually, the Merovingians declined in power and intellect and lost all their own lands. The last Merovingian king was actually reduced to riding in a cart pulled by bulls.

Pepe, the father of Charlemagne who was in fact the overseer of the last possessions of the Merovingians convinced Pope xxx to depose the last king and put him in a monastery and declare him the king. Thus a new order of Carolingians dynasty was established.  That is of course, the basis of why some people think that the Catholic Church does not want to revisit the subject.

As for the film, I found it quite entertaining. The casting was quite expertly done. There were some debates about Tom Hank's long hair and whether he was the right choice to play Robert Langdon.  He fitted the role quite nicely. I talked to some others who had read the book and they approved of it.

Ron Howard has grown up in Hollywood.  He has been busy since he was a little child. Unlike many other actors and directors he has never known hunger and insecurity.  That shows in his films.  There is a Hollywood superficiality about them, lack of depth in other words.  However, he has been lucky to work with talented actors such as Russell Crowe in the Beautiful Mind. In this movie, he gets a good performance from Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and passable from others.

So, I'll give it It is worth the price of the ticket.

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