Da Vinci Code Movie

Most of the Hollywood movies are adapted from novels. But the question is how many really succeed in satisfying the viewers those who have read the book and those who haven’t read it equally. I think that is the biggest challenge when you adapt movies from novels. Great novels are not always the best sellers. It is safe when the movie is based on a great novel because only after watching the movie most of them would know about the novel and then would go and read it. If the book is the best seller then the makers are really in high pressure to meet the sky high expectations and one need not mention the difficulty if it is a novel like Da Vinci Code which is beyond just a best seller which had facts and conspiracy theories leading to lot of controversies and people are still discussing the questions the book rose.

Personally, as I was not an avid reader, I didn’t get a chance of watch movies that are based on novels that I read and liked. “Memoirs of Geisha” was the first movie that I saw based on the novel which I have read. I have read “Da Vinci Code” and I was sure that the movie is not going to make it. “Da Vinci Code” is not an ideal novel to make a movie on. If you make a movie on a biography, there are parts which you can skip to compress the content and present the novel comprehensively on screen without actually loosing the essence of the book. But with a novel like “DVC” where every single incident, every single line of verse, every single twist, every single character, every single conversation is important for what is going to happen, coming up with a convincing screenplay out of it is a next to impossible task.

Why I didn’t like the movie?

Casting of Lead characters, both Tom Hanks and Andrey Tautou doesn’t look like how imagined the characters of Robert Langdon and Sophie or neither it seems they look like how most of the readers imagined their characters. My Robert Langdon didn’t have those long hairs and a dull face, he is a charismatic personality whose mere presence fills the place with the aura of brilliance and intelligence and there is no trace of any of this in the face of Tom Hanks. To my surprise, he looks so less involved in the movie all through. Sophie on the other side is also the same, look for her blank expressions in most of the scenes. For example, when Tom finds that the jumbled words are actually, Leonardo Da Vinci and The Mona Lisa, look for the way Sophie says, “Professor, the Mona Lisa is here” like a kid saying the mugged-up dialogue in a school drama. Her persona or her performance lacks the strong, stubborn and courageous look and feel that the Sophie character demands.

Unlike the novel, Robert Langdon was kind of sidelined giving more importance to Sophie as the other characters most often say in the movie that she is the last descendant of Jesus Christ. Robert Langdon’s genius and his adventures are not explored fully; instead the movie gives more importance to the emotional journey of Sophie. It may be intentional because the whole novel is about how sacred feminine has been suppressed all these years. I never thought Sophie as the central character while reading the novel, though actually she is. Each reader has his own way of interpreting a story which doesn’t mean the story is not clear, it is clear to each one in their own way. It is just that my interpretation of the whole story doesn’t match with that of the makers.

The most fascinating aspect of the novel is not just what happens next but also how it happens. The movie just captures what-happens-next part of it and leaves behind how-it-happens part which makes us not to admire when Robert Langdon finds something to proceed to the next step in their quest. There is so much of thought involved before solving each riddle or puzzle or the anagrams but Robert Langdon seems to get everything in a flash of a second in the movie

For example, there is so much of detailing, debate, conversation and digging into the history involved before they find that the words engraved in the key is actually the address of the Swiss bank and who can forget the detailed explanation about Phi and how it relates to the mathematical precision of everything that exists in the world. In front of the Mona Lisa painting in Louvre museum, Robert Langdon has pages and pages of theories to explain. The interesting conversation between Leigh Teabing, Sophie and Langdon in the plane for solving the Cryptex and the way they arrive at So-phi as the final solution for the Cryptex are missing in the movie.

I know that in the medium of cinema all these lengthy conversations are not possible. But that is why I said the Da Vinci Code is not an ideal novel for making a movie. No movie can give us the same excitement, chill, thrill and suspense which the novel gave us but unfortunately that is what most of the readers of the book expect from the movie. This is also one of the reasons why I felt Robert Langdon character was sidelined and looked less interesting. Explanations of all these facts about theories, history, secret connections by Langdon made us wonder about Langdon’s knowledge in history. When each time Langdon arrives at a solution for each problem by linking all these strange facts made us wonder his acumen. But the audience doesn’t get this kind of amazement and wonderment by looking at Langdon in the movie.

Why I like the movie?

The movie gave a chance to me to visit all those places described in the book. It is more vivid for me now and I would really enjoy reading the book next time. The history and the present are well blended in the visuals through special effects. I liked the way the words appear bright when Tom thinks of all possible combinations of words from the anagram. Especially explanation of the last supper painting was so clear which even a layman can understand. I think it is only at this place, the theories, the facts and the history are verbally discussed by the characters, of course it is crucial as it reveals the truth about Mary Magdalene and I like the way this long conversations is blended well within this frame-turner (like page-turner for novels) without boring the audience. To compensate for the inappropriate cast for lead characters, the cast and their performance for supporting characters like Leigh Teabing, Aringarosa, Fache and above all Silas are extremely believable and convincing. Being aware of the constraints that the medium of cinema has in bringing the novel to life on screen, the adapted screenplay is actually good. They have covered all the major happenings in the novel and within the given time it drives the point home clearly and cleverly.

I stayed away from the movie after reading all negative reviews but I am happy that I watched the movie finally. Though it is not completely convincing, it is a must watch for all those who cherished reading “Da Vinci Code” and who are aware that the movie will not be like the novel.

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