Making the Grades
If there is one thing The Da Vinci Code hasn't run short of, it's hype. For more than a year before gracing the silver screen, previews and promotions have been dangled in front of the public eye. Meanwhile, opinions from religious organizations regarding the story's re-writing of the role of Jesus Christ and other New Testament figures also increased as the release date drew nigh. And then there's the huge audience who have read the novel by Dan Brown, upon which this movie is based, who anticipated seeing their favorite book put to film.
For those who have only heard the hoopla, the controversial plot goes something like this:
Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is a man who lives to break codes and discover the secret patterns of numerals, letters, and symbols in the monotony of daily life. He's in France making a presentation and signing his new book when the local police approach and tell him that his friend has been murdered. Accompanying the officials to the Louvre, Langdon is shocked to see the victim's naked body covered in various cryptic signs written in the man's own blood (of which we see a great deal).
Also at the grande mus0xE9e is Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), who is introduced as the granddaughter of the deceased. Begging his trust, the young woman passionately explains that he is the chief suspect in the investigation. Offering to help Langdon avoid arrest, the two escape the museum, and flee into the streets of Paris. But what the professor doesn't know is he's embarked on a far more dangerous journey than a run from the authorities. His cryptographic skills will pull him into a scheme full of twists and turns, with a climax involving the divinity of Jesus Christ, his relationship with Mary Magdalene, and whether direct descendents of the "Savior of Man" walk the Earth today.
If you're a parent wondering if this historically set drama holds concerns for family viewing, the answer is "yes," from various perspectives. First, Christians -- especially Catholics -- may be offended, or at least troubled, by the implications regarding Christ's life, and the claims as to whom he left in charge of his church. (Without giving too much away, the film says it wasn't Peter.) Yet even those not weighing the religious doctrines, will still find bothersome issues like the particularly gory violence and sexual content.
Self-mutilation, murders with guns, and scenes of harsh hand-to-hand violence involving men and women are depicted throughout. Another male character appears completely naked (seen mostly from the rear) and physically abuses and mutilates his body as a sign of his dedication to Jesus. As well, there are discussions of satanic and sexual rituals, and a brief depiction of a couple under a blanket on an altar presumably having sex.
These disquieting moments punctuate what some will view as an interesting adventure, which simply happens to use historical religious characters as a backdrop. Heavy on dialogue, the over two hour run time travels by quickly, and you won't want to miss a word or you'll be left behind.
Possibly audiences' greatest apprehension should be with a far broader problem than this film. Whether it is the retelling of Pocahontas, the voyage of Christopher Columbus, or the American Civil War, we risk having popular culture become our new history books. Movies like this contain just enough facts to allow viewers to believe what they see might be true, instead of recognizing them as works of imagination. Discerning fact from fiction is one code parents should be actively helping their children to crack.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Da Vinci Code.
Do you think movies and media have the power to change our perspective of history?
You may want to research some of the topics brought forth in this movie using religious texts along with Internet resources. You can begin by checking this link for more information on the Knights Templar, an organization that has become embellished in many movies and works of literature.