|The Da Vinci Code|
|Directed by||Ron Howard|
|Produced by||Brian Grazer
|Written by||Akiva Goldsman
Dan Brown (Novel)
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Editing by||Daniel P. Hanley
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||May 19, 2006|
|Running time||149 minutes|
|Followed by||Angels & Demons|
The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 American action/thriller/mystery film directed by Ron Howard. The screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman and based on Dan Brown's worldwide bestselling 2003 novel, The Da Vinci Code. It was produced by Howard with John Calley and Brian Grazer and released by Columbia Pictures in the United States on May 19, 2006.
The Da Vinci Code stars Tom Hanks as Harvard University symbologist Robert Langdon, Audrey Tautou as cryptographer Sophie Neveu of the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire of France, Sir Ian McKellen as British Grail historian Sir Leigh Teabing, Alfred Molina as Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, Jean Reno as Capitainé Bezu Fache of the Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire, and Paul Bettany as the Opus Dei monk Silas.
The Da Vinci Code was previewed at the opening night of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2006. The Da Vinci Code then entered major release in many other countries on May 18, 2006 and was released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on May 19, 2006.
Due to controversial and inaccurate historical interpretations and perceived anti-Catholic elements, the film, like Dan Brown's book, was harshly criticized by the Roman Catholic Church. Some church members urged the laity to boycott the film. Many of the early showings were protested and early critical reviews were decidedly negative. Arguably, however, these reactions had little negative impact on the film's box office numbers; The Da Vinci Code earned in excess of $230 million worldwide in its opening weekend, which, at the time, was the third most most profitable opening weekend in film history. It is currently ranked as the seventh biggest opening. It was the second highest grossing movie of 2006 worldwide, earning $$758,239,851 as of November 2, 2006. At the time, directed Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks had collaborated on two previous films, 1984's Splash and 1995's Apollo 13. They have since collaborated on The Da Vinci Code's sequel, Angels & Demons and they are expected to collaborate on a film adaptation on the third book of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon trilogy, The Lost Symbol. The Da Vinci Code is their most successful collaboration not adjusted for inflation.
A man revealed to be Jacques Saunière is being pursued by a mysterious hooded character known as Silas through the Grand Gallery in the Louvre in Paris. Silas demands the location of the Priory's clef de voûte or "keystone." Under threat of death, Saunière finally confesses the keystone is kept in the sacristy of Church of Saint-Sulpice, "beneath the Rose." Silas thanks him, and then shoots him in the stomach.
Meanwhile, American symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who is in Paris as an AUP guest lecturer on symbols and the sacred feminine, is contacted by the French police, and summoned to the Louvre to view the crime scene. He discovers the dying Saunière had created an intricate display using black light ink and his own body and blood. Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) asks him for his interpretation of the puzzling scene.
Silas calls a mysterious man known as "The Teacher", revealing that he has killed all four protectors of the keystone and that all confirmed the same location. He dons a metal cilice on his thigh and proceeds to flagellate himself with a whip for the sins of murder. Facilitated by Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, Silas then travels to Saint-Sulpice and is admitted by an elderly nun; left alone, he excavates beneath the floor of the church to find a stone saying only JOB 38:11. He confronts the nun, who quotes the passage: "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further." Realizing that he has been deceived, Silas is enraged and kills the nun.
Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a cryptologist with the French police, enters the Louvre as well and slips Langdon a message which leads him to the men's room. There, Sophie meets him and tells him that he is being tracked, a GPS tracking dot has been (unknown by him) slipped into his jacket and that he is a primary suspect in the murder case because of a line of text found by the corpse ("P.S. find Robert Langdon"). Sophie however, believes that Saunière, who is revealed to be her grandfather, wanted to pass a hidden message on to her, and that he had wanted to bring Langdon into the equation so that he could help her crack the code.
Having bought some time by removing the tracking device, the pair begin exploring the Louvre, finding more anagram messages that Saunière had left behind. Many of these relate to Leonardo Da Vinci's art, and the pair find a key with a Fleur-de-lis behind Madonna of the Rocks.
Pursued by the French police and cut off from the United States Embassy, the pair escape to the Bois de Boulogne where Langdon closely inspects the key. He notices an inscription on the side - an address. The address directs them to the Depository Bank of Zurich where the key is used for a safety deposit box.
In the bank, they find Saunière's deposit box and open it using the 10 digit Fibonacci numbers in order (1123581321). Inside the box, they find a rosewood container, which contains a cryptex: a cylindrical container with five alphabetical dials which must be arranged in the correct sequence to spell out a 5-letter code word, in order to open and access the parchment message inside. Using force to open the cryptex would break a vial of vinegar inside, which would dissolve the parchment and destroy the message.
Unfortunately, the police are called by a security guard and they are forced to leave. The bank manager, Andre Vernet, assists them in escaping by taking them as passengers in an armoured van to escape the routine checks of the police. In the back of the truck Langdon and Neveu have a lengthy discussion about the cryptex and Neveu says that her grandfather often played games with her involving cryptexes. Langdon says that the cryptex might hold valuable information or another clue about what they are trying to discover. Eventually, they come to a sudden stop and Vernet forces them at gunpoint to give him the cryptex. Langdon tricks Vernet and disarms him and he and Sophie escape with the cryptex in their hands.
Langdon suggests that they visit his friend, Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen), for assistance to opening the cryptex. Leigh Teabing turns out to be an enthusiastic seeker of the Holy Grail, which he believes is not actually a cup but instead Mary Magdalene, who was driven away because Jesus's followers didn't want to follow a woman after their leader was killed. Mary was pregnant at the time, and Teabing tells Sophie that a secret society was formed to protect the descendants of Jesus. Jacques Saunière was believed to be a part of this society and Teabing suspects that he was training Sophie to join it also. Silas, meanwhile, breaks into Teabing's mansion and attempts to steal the cryptex. Teabing uses his cane to knock Silas out and they escape again, taking the butler, Remy Jean, and Silas with them. The group escapes in Teabing's plane, following the next clue to London.
It is revealed that Remy Jean is actually a follower of The Teacher as well, however he is killed by the mysterious man after freeing Silas. Silas is attacked by the police and, in the ensuing gunfire, accidentally shoots Bishop Manuel Aringarosa. In his grief, Silas dies in police-assisted suicide and Aringarosa is taken to the hospital, as well as being arrested by Fache for betraying him.
As Langdon gets closer to solving the mystery, he is betrayed by Teabing, who is revealed to be The Teacher. Teabing explained that he wanted to find Mary Magdalene's remains to prove he was correct about the Holy Grail and threatens to shoot Sophie if Langdon does not crack the code. Langdon responds by throwing the cryptex into the air. Teabing catches it, but drops it, and it hits the ground. The vial of vinegar breaks and apparently spreads onto the document, destroying it.
After Teabing is arrested, however it is revealed that Langdon had cracked the code ('Apple') and removed the clue from the cryptex before throwing it. Using the clue, they travel to Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland where Magdalene's remains had previously been hidden. There, they meet other members of the secret organization that protected her. It is revealed that Sophie is actually Magdalene's descendant and therefore is the current living descendant of Jesus Christ. They vow to keep her safe. Langdon and Sophie part ways shortly after.
Langdon accidentally cuts himself while shaving and the line of blood on the sink reminds him of the Rose Line. He follows the Rose Line and finds the location of the Holy Grail, buried under the pyramid in the Louvre. Langdon then kneels above Mary Magdalene's tomb as the Templar Knights did before him.
The film rights were purchased from Dan Brown for $6,000,000. Filming had been scheduled to start in May 2005; however, some delays caused filming to begin on June 30, 2005.
Permission to film on the premises was granted to the film by the Louvre (although, since the crew was not permitted to shine light on the Mona Lisa, a replica was used instead, whilst the film crew used the Mona Lisa's chamber as a storage room), while Westminster Abbey denied the use of its premises, as did Saint-Sulpice. The Westminster Abbey scenes were instead filmed at Lincoln and Winchester cathedrals, which both belong to the Church of England.
Due to the denial of a location permit for Saint-Sulpice the entire scene had to be recreated virtually by post-production company Rainmaker U.K. and though the set had been partially built, the co-ordinates were centimeters out from what the compositors had expected and so the entire process was extremely difficult to complete.
Lincoln Cathedral reportedly received £100,000 in exchange for the right to film there, with filming there occurring between 15 and 19 August 2005, mainly within the cloisters of the cathedral. The cathedral's bell "Great Tom", which strikes the hour, was silent for the first time since World War II during that time. Although it remained a closed set, protesters led by the 61-year-old Roman Catholic nun Sister Mary Michael from Our Lady's Community of Peace and Mercy in Lincoln demonstrated against the filming, spending 12 hours praying on her knees outside the cathedral in protest against what she sees as the blasphemous use of a holy place to film a book which she considers to contain heresy.
Meanwhile Winchester Cathedral answered criticism by using its location fee to fund an exhibition, lecture series and campaign to debunk the book. The scenes for the Pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo were filmed on location at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, England.
Filming also took place elsewhere in the UK (London, including the concert hall in the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, the Temple Church, and Burghley House), Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland and also in France and Germany.
The filmmakers also shot many of the internal scenes at Pinewood Studios: the film's opening sequence was filmed in the cavernous Albert R. Broccoli's 007 Stage at Pinewood Shepperton, where the interior of the Louvre was recreated, away from the priceless paintings in the actual museum in France.
In the film's opening sequence, Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, is taken by French police to the Louvre, where a dead body has been discovered. David White of Altered States FX, a prosthetics and special makeup effects company which is based at London's Shepperton Studios, was tasked with creating a naked photo-realistic silicone body for the scene. (Lighting effects, however, were utilized to obscure the body's genitalia, a technique also used on television programmes such as NCIS).
Pinewood's state-of-the-art Underwater Stage was used to film underwater sequences. The stage opened in 2005 after four years of planning and development. The water in the tank is filtered using an ultraviolet system which creates crystal clear water, and the water is maintained at 30°C (87°F) to create a comfortable environment to work in for both cast and crew. Since the tank does not use much chlorine due to its optical properties, it must always be drained and refilled after several days.
Alternate versions of Paul Bettany's nude flagellation scenes were shot, in which he wears a black loincloth. Clips of these versions appear in the History Channel's "Opus Dei Unveiled" documentary, aired in summer 2006.
At a conference on April 28, 2006, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Vatican curial department formerly known as the Holy Office, Archbishop Angelo Amato, specifically called for a boycott of the film version of The Da Vinci Code; he said the movie is "full of calumnies, offences, and historical and theological errors."
Cardinal Francis Arinze, in a documentary called "The Da Vinci Code: A Masterful Deception," urged unspecified legal action against the makers of the film. "Those who blaspheme Christ and get away with it are exploiting the Christian readiness to forgive and to love even those who insult us. There are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you," Arinze said. He was formerly Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Vatican.
Stating that it does not intend to organize any boycotts, Opus Dei (the Catholic organization that is featured prominently in the novel and the film) released a statement on February 14, 2006 asking Sony Pictures to consider editing the soon-to-be-released film based on the bestseller, so that it would not contain references that it felt might be hurtful to Catholics. The statement also said Brown’s book offers a "deformed" image of the church and that Opus Dei will use the opportunity of the movie’s release to educate about the church.
On Easter, April 16, 2006, Opus Dei published an open letter by the Japanese Information Office of Opus Dei mildly proposing that Sony Pictures consider including a disclaimer on the film adaptation as a "sign of respect towards the figure of Jesus Christ, the history of the Church, and the religious beliefs of viewers." The organization also encouraged the studio to clearly label the movie as fictitious "and that any resemblance to reality is pure coincidence."
According to a statement by Manuel Sánchez Hurtado, Opus Dei Press Office Rome, in contrast to Sony Corporation’s published "Code of Conduct" the company has announced that the film will not include such a disclaimer.
U.S. Catholic bishops launched a website refuting the key claims in the novel that were about to be brought to the screen. The bishops are concerned about errors and serious misstatements in The Da Vinci Code. The film has also been rated morally offensive – by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting, which denounced its depiction of both the Jesus-Mary Magdalene relationship and that of Opus Dei as "deeply abhorrent."
The Peruvian Episcopal Conference (CEP) declared the movie—and the book—as part of a "systematic attack on the Catholic Church". Furthermore, the Archbishop of Lima, the controversial Cardinal and member of Opus Dei Juan Luis Cipriani, urged his community not to see the film: "If someone goes (to see the movie), they are giving money to those who hurt the faith. It's not a problem of fiction; if truth is not respected, what arises we could call white glove terrorism."
According to AP, during a preview for movie critics in Cannes, a line spoken by Tom Hanks "drew prolonged laughter and some catcalls". Nearing the end of the screening, "there were a few whistles and hisses, and there was none of the scattered applause even bad movies sometimes receive at Cannes."
The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has expressed concern about Silas' character giving people with albinism a bad name. However, the filmmakers did not change his appearance. See also evil albino.
Although The Da Vinci Code was passed by Chinese censors, it was abruptly removed from public view in Mainland China, by order of the Chinese government, after "a remarkable run in China, grossing over $13 million". No explanation was given. Its last screening was made on June 9, 2006.
The biggest cinema in the Faroe Islands, Havnar Bio, decided to boycott the film, effectively blocking it from the other smaller cinemas, who rely on second-hand films from this source, because it seems to be blasphemous in their point of view. Havnar Bio is privately owned, and their decision is based on their own private opinion.
A private initiative by the individual Herluf Sørensen has arranged the movie to be played, despite the boycott by Havnar bio. The movie opened at the Nordic House in the Faroe Islands on the June 5, 2006.
The Philippine Alliance Against Pornography (PAAP) appealed to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stop the showing of The Da Vinci Code in the Philippines. They branded the film as "the most pornographic and blasphemous film in history" and also requested the help of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and other religious groups to stop the showing of the film. In addition, they compared Dan Brown to Adolf Hitler.
However, Cecille Guidote Alvarez, Philippine Presidential Adviser on Culture and the Arts, said Malacañang will not interfere in controversy about the film and leaves the decision to the Movie and Television Classification Board's (MTRCB) rating. Eventually, MTRCB decided to give The Da Vinci Code an R-18 rating (restricted to those 18 years of age and over) despite PAAP's opposition for showing it.
Christian groups in this mostly Buddhist country protested the film and called for it to be banned. On May 16, 2006, the Thai Censorship Committee issued a ruling that the film would be shown, but that the last 10 minutes would be cut. Also, some Thai subtitles were to be edited to change their meaning and passages from the Bible would also be quoted at the beginning and end of the film.
However, the following day, Sony Pictures appealed the ruling, saying it would pull the film if the decision to cut it was not reversed. The censorship panel then voted 6-5 that the film could be shown uncut, but that a disclaimer would precede and follow the film, saying it was a work of fiction. This last-minute decision caused the premiere, opening-day showing of the movie to be delayed or cancelled in some provincial theatres as the updated film reels were shipped from Bangkok.
The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) wrote to Information, Communications and the Arts Minister to register their "strongest objection" to the release of the film and requested that it be banned. The Media Development Authority, however, passed the unedited version of the movie, albeit with an NC-16 rating, a restriction for children below the age of 16.
The film was banned outright in Samoa after church leaders watching a pre-release showing filed a complaint to film censors.
There was a huge outcry in many states by the Christian minorities to ban the film from screening in India for the perceived anti-Christian message. This issue had even brought the minister responsible to view the film along with the senior Catholic representatives.
In the end, the movie was allowed to release without any cuts but with an A (Adults Only) certification from the Central Board for Film Certification and a 15-second Disclaimer added at the end stating that the movie was purely a tale of fiction. However, the movie was delayed by a week, by which time the grey market was flooded with pirated copies of the movie.
The screening of the film Da Vinci Code has been banned in Punjab, Goa, Nagaland, Meghalaya , Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Later, the Andhra Pradesh High Court quashed the State Government's order banning the screening of the film in the state. The Indian censor board, however, had cleared the movie for release on Friday, June 2. The Supreme Court of India also rejected petitions calling for a ban on the film, saying the plot which suggested Jesus was married was fictional and not offensive.
Sri Lanka is also one of the countries that banned the movie from being released.
Tom Hanks told the Evening Standard that those involved with the movie "always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown. But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense." He said it is a mistake "to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this." He also stated at the Cannes Film Festival that he and his wife saw no contradiction between their faith and the film, as "My heritage, and that of my wife, suggests that our sins have been taken away, not our brains."
Also at Cannes, Sir Ian McKellen was quoted as saying — "While I was reading the book I believed it entirely. Clever Dan Brown twisted my mind convincingly. But when I put it down I thought, 'What a load of [pause] potential codswallop." During a May 17, 2006 interview on The Today Show with the Da Vinci Code cast and director, Matt Lauer posed a question to the group about how they would have felt if the film had borne a prominent disclaimer that it is a work of fiction, as some religious groups wanted. (Some high ranking Vatican cabinet members had called for a boycott of the film.) McKellen responded, "I've often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying 'This is fiction.' I mean, walking on water? It takes. . . an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie—not that it's true, not that it's factual, but that it's a jolly good story." He continued, "And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction, and discuss the thing when they've seen it."
The film's teaser trailer was released in the summer of 2005, a full year before the film's worldwide release. It was released before a single frame of the movie had been shot. It features crevices with some hidden symbols and was later revealed as an image of Da Vinci's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. (In reality, the painting plays a very little role in the film and is shown only for a few seconds.)
A cross-promotion also appeared on The Amazing Race 9, where one team earned a trip to the movie's premiere in Hollywood, California. The prize was awarded to the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop bearing two parchments and demonstrating that, when combined, they revealed a picture of Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man and a coded message; the first team to arrive at the Pit Stop did show the message and were awarded the prize.
To limit exposure in the age of blogs and constant leaks, both Sony and Imagine Entertainment, decided to forgo test screenings, a form of market research usually considered critical to fine-tuning a picture. According to the studio representative, the strategy is to preserve a climate of mystery and excitement around the movie, despite the fact that anyone who is interested probably already knows the plot through having already read the book. Even theater owners saw the 2 1/2 hour film only 5 days before the film festival, which by exhibition standards is as last minute as it gets.
As part of the lead up to the movie, various encrypted clues are being placed in movie trailers and interviews. In mid-April, two such clues appeared in the Da Vinci Code interviews on Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, as highlighted letters in the names of interviewees.
In February, Sony, in cooperation with Grace Hill Media, launched The Da Vinci Dialogue (aka The Da Vinci Challenge), a fairly comprehensive web site which is intended to defuse Christian opposition to the movie. The site mixes some mild criticisms with movie promotional material.
Several of the changes made in the film, notably those of Langdon's views on the subject, appear to be intended to counterpoint or soften some of the viewpoints expressed in the novel.
There have been protesters at several movie theaters across the United States on opening weekend protesting the themes of the film, citing it as blasphemy and claiming that it shames both the Catholic Church, and Jesus Christ himself. More than 200 protesters also turned out in Athens, Greece to protest the film's release shortly before opening day. In Manila the movie was banned from all theaters and the set by the local MTRCB as an R18 movie for the Philippines. In Pittsburgh, protesters also showed up at a special screening of the film the day before its widespread release. Protests also occurred at the filming sites, but only a monk and a nun stood in a quiet protest at the Cannes premiere. In Chennai, India, the film was banned for a two month period to appease local Christian and Muslim groups.
The Da Vinci Code received generally poor reviews from critics. The film current has a 24% rating on the film review aggreator website Rotten Tomatoes. The critics' consensus as gathered by Rotten Tomatoes is: "What makes Dan Brown's novel a best seller is evidently not present in this dull and bloated movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code." The film was poorly received at the Cannes Film Festival, where it debuted.
The critic Michael Medved gave the film one star (out of four) saying, "...all the considerable acting talent in the film is wasted..." and "the plot twists and sudden reverses ... seem silly, arbitrary, and entirely contrived – never growing organically out of the story-line or the thinly sketched characters." Anthony Lane of The New Yorker addressed the concerns of Catholics in his film review, stating of the film, "It is self-evident, spirit-lowering tripe that could not conceivably cause a single member of the flock to turn aside from the faith."
Director Ron Howard noted that the overwhelmingly negative reviews were "frustrating" to him.
Some critics, however, did like the film. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and stated, "the movie works; it's involving, intriguing and constantly seems on the edge of startling revelations." Lawrence Toppman of The Charlotte Observer, who also liked the film, gave it three and a half out of four stars and noted, "unlike most Hollywood blockbusters, this one assumes audience members will be smart."
Although many critics gave mostly negative reviews of the film, critics of both sides acknowledged and praised the strong performances of Ian McKellen as well as Paul Bettany.
The film went on to receive a Razzie Nomination for Worst Director (Ron Howard). On the "Worst Movies of 2006" episode of the television show Ebert & Roeper (January 13, 2007), guest critic Michael Phillips (sitting in for the recovering Roger Ebert) listed the film at #2.
A spoof of the movie, The Norman Rockwell Code, was released the same day as the movie itself.
Despite the protests and poor pre-release reviews, the film still opened with an estimated $29 million in box office sales on its opening day, averaging $7764 per screen. During its opening weekend, moviegoers spent an estimated $77 million in America, and $224 million worldwide, according to Sony Pictures. The Da Vinci Code is the best domestic opening for both Tom Hanks and Ron Howard.
It also enjoyed the 3rd biggest opening weekend for the year to date (after Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and X-Men: The Last Stand, and the second biggest worldwide opening weekend ever, just behind 2005's Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.) This has led some critics, particularly in the UK, to moot the idea of the 'critic-proof film'.
Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman adapted Angels & Demons (a Dan Brown novel published before The Da Vinci Code) into a film script, which was directed by Ron Howard. Chronologically, the book takes place before The Da Vinci Code. However, the filmmakers re-tooled it as a sequel. Tom Hanks reprises his role as Robert Langdon in the film, which was released in May 2009 to moderate (but generally better) reviews.
The film was released on DVD on November 14, 2006. in three editions:
All DVD sets include an introduction from director Ron Howard, ten featurettes, and other bonus features.
In Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Latin America (DVD region code 4), the two disc set also included an extended edition of the film, including over twenty-five minutes of extra footage, bringing the running time to almost three hours.
In Hong Kong and Korea (Region 3), the extended cut was also released on DVD in a two-disc set. Two gift sets were also released, with working cryptex replica, replica journal, and more. The French and Spanish Region 2 disc also received a special gift set.
On April 28, 2009, a 2-disc Blu-Ray edition of the Extended Version of the film was released in North America. While there is no regular DVD release in United States or a Region 2 release in United Kingdom, a version of the extended cut was released in Germany.
The following are reference sources, repeated in alphabetic order:
Remy (at the hangar while police are searching plane): You know, I could run them over if you wish, sir.
[They both laugh]
[They both laugh]
[They hug, Robert kisses Sophie on the forehead and they both walk away from each other]