Saturday, May 27, 2006

Da Vinci Code and Church

I watched the Da Vinci Code movie and paid my dollar dues to Sony. Clearly, Sony is making good money. That is otherwise good for embattled Sony and Hollywood which has not been too successful last year (I even read that salaries for actors were less lately! Unthinkable....).

For me it was not easy to keep track who was for keeping the secret and who wanted to open it. Not exactly confusing, but may be fast paced for me. Also Newsweek ran the story in their latest issue and it has published 12 aspects – as depicted in the movie and cold facts. I guess reading that before going to the movie might have set my expectations right – that it is a movie made for making money and facts are quite likely to be compromised. Since I have not read the book, I do not have that context to compare.

The only thing I got impressed by the movie was Louvre and beautiful churches shown. Nothing much worthy of movie making art. Acting is nothing to take note of. The lead actress looks beautiful in many shots and she has played the chic role of a French smart young lady talking English. How sexy and how predictable! It is like chocolate – nothing unusual and so predictable, but you enjoy. Tom Hanks is not impressive.

The main take away for me from the movie is it’s typical Liberal Hollywood style political undertone. In fact one can easily imagine this movie being made in 1970’s when Feminism was raging all over the place. It is well known that Roman Catholic Church has indeed robbed Woman of her centrality in human life and there is nothing to disagree about. As like so many other sections of the society, Church has been exploitative of Women and gone all the way to preserve the patriarchy. It is also very logical to see how Church would always make attempts to squelch any idea which tries to depict Jesus as a human instead of Son of God. Marriage, sex and children surely make Jesus human; undercutting Church’s role of messenger.

National Geographic published last month the findings of Gospel of Judas. Basic line of that investigation is that indeed there were other gospels and Gnostic way of understanding Jesus and his message – that an individual can connect to God and Church is one of the many ways of reaching to God.

It has been long suspected that established Church suppressed all those tenets which could have challenged directly or indirectly the monopoly of Church in reaching to God. In a way this story is not much different than Brahmin’s and other high caste minorities attempting to keep monopoly on doors to God in Hinduism. Invariable it happens in so many religions. Christianity is not an exception. Da Vinci Code and the implied criticism of Church in that movie are all about that.

The criticism is right and as like any Liberal I agree with that. But what I am worried is in the end the whole motive for this movie is making money (controversy is good, it brings more dollars). Criticism while making money does not wash and the credibility of your criticism goes to wind. Then the movie has to be measured on the criteria of ‘action genre’ only and it is a big bore there.

On the other hand if one wants to explore systematically how suppressive Church has been, the efforts like what National Geographic put in are more relevant and long lasting. The danger is the movie and Hollywood style ‘Liberal Lipstick’ talk would rather damage the cause of making people to approach church on the basis of facts.

Roman Catholic Church and Vatican will not suffer any damage by this movie. For last two millennium, they have seen much more fundamental challenges and they have withered. What a single movie can move them? It does not matter even if it becomes Billion dollars affair or millions watch. More the commercial side of this movie marketing and viewing by audience become prominent, lesser is it a headache for Roman Catholic Church. And so their patriarchical ways will continue. This movie is no help in the serious debate of Liberalism and Christianity. It is one hell of a smart marketing ploy of making money in today’s world.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
May 27, 2006.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Good post.!