Tuesday, May 23, 2006

That Movie

I did in fact see that movie which gets a famous artist's name wrong (not simply misspelled, as I said yesterday).

I will discuss plot points, so if you don't want to know what happens, read no further!!

You have been warned.


Violent. Bloody. Disturbing.

I went with a group of friends, and one of us left after half an hour, unable to stand the brutality and gore. If I hadn't felt a sense of duty, I doubt I would have stayed.

I don't remember that the book (which I read) had so much violence in it; but it may be that seeing it, graphically, makes it more powerful than reading about it on the page. That said, there were two murders, a cilice and self-flagellation in the first half an hour. More than enough for me.

That was bad enough, but the history! According to the "experts" in the movie, Constantine convened a council that decided the contents of the Bible; the Christians pulled down the ancient gods of the Romans (and only one goddess was mentioned), a French King conquered Jerusalem solely in order to regain the Grail, etc. I won't even go into the mess they made of Templar history. It's not that it's simply flat wrong--although it is, sometimes--it's a compressing and over-simplification of what really happened. And then theory is presented as fact--that Mary Magdalene and Jesus had a child, that she was rushed out of Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion, and bore a child in France, where the descendents of Jesus have forever after been protected by a secret group, because the Catholic church would destroy them and the child if they were ever located (which is where Opus Dei comes in), because it would destroy the Church's power. Which is, according to the movie, based on the erasure of one of Jesus' primary relationships, and the subjugation of women.

Now, I won't entirely argue with the latter--that women (and other groups) have been marginalized in much of traditional organized religion. But it's overstated and made into a vast conspiracy, with money and blood and cellphones and the Louvre playing huge roles.

Tom Hanks sleepwalks, Ian McKellan chews scenery (although, given the character he plays, it would be difficult to resist).

The plot was full of holes, the largest (to my mind) being: if the purpose of the Council of Sion was to protect the descendents of Jesus, why is the tomb of Mary Magdalene so important? The living children would, logically, be the focus. But she is called the Chalice, she is venerated, it's all about where Mary is buried. That seems pointless, to me.

Yes, the feminine has been marginalized in much of organized religion in the West in the last 2000 years; but this is a bit much.

Even if there were incontrovertible proof that Jesus had married and had children, so what? It would not jar my faith. Jesus was human and divine; he wept, he laughed, he had human parents who raised him, he surely felt all the emotions a human being can feel--otherwise, he was not fully human. So it does not bother me to think he might have had children. What matters to me is his teachings, his love for humankind, his death on the cross and his resurrection. Period. I do not think that Jesus' message of love and salvation is so meagre, so weak, so tenuous as to be destroyed by the idea that he might have--or even did--love a woman. That's what "fully human" means.

So. Go see it if you think you need to in order to discuss it with your congregation, but be prepared for gore, frustration with the twisting and obliteration of facts, and annoyance with plot holes.

Otherwise, wait for Over the Hedge--now that looks like a fun movie!


Teri said...

I haven't seen the movie yet (it's not here yet) but I can't understand the need for so much argument over something that seems relatively irrelevant. And I can't understand the need for every movie about Jesus to be bloodier than the last. grr.
thanks for a good review!

Poor Mad Peter said...

We'll maybe see the movie when it's available from the library--the book looks badly written and neither of us sees the need to contribute to Dan Brown's royalty pile.

But--it's a work of fiction, however inept, and Ron Howard and company, from most reports made a bit of a silk purse out of a sow's ear. And that is saying something.

I wonder how Ken Russell would have handled the book? {mischievous grin}