The Da Vinci Code

Origin, by Dan Brown (2017)

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Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code caused a storm when it was released and was the runaway bestseller of 2003. As well as three sequels, it spawned a thousand wannabe copycat efforts and a trilogy of motion pictures starring Tom Hanks as Brown’s main protagonist, Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon.

Critics derided the literary merits of The Da Vinci Code, and not without reason. But Brown had found a way of successfully combining serious academic research into topics that people wouldn’t ordinarily read about, with a fast-paced page-turning conspiracy thriller style that sold by the million. While I thought Da Vinci was itself a bit pompous and self-important, I really liked the first book in the Langdon series – Angels and Demons – despite the wildly improbable helicopter-flying, skydiving would-be pontiff saving the Vatican from nuclear annihilation. Read the rest of this entry »

Angels and Demons (2009)

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The shock news that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning (the first pope to do so in almost six hundred years) left me with a strange hankering to rewatch Angels and Demons, the 2009 thriller based on Dan Brown’s novel of the same name which used the election of a new Pope as the backdrop to the central story line.

Let’s be clear, neither the book nor the film is remotely authentic or realistic in terms of its plot; however, in terms of the research on show about the actual Vatican processes surrounding the selection of a new pope it’s fairly close to the known facts while also enjoying the freedom of cinema to take us behind the doors that in real life are firmly locked and bolted against prying eyes. That makes this a useful highlight notes package for the real event that will follow Benedict’s own exit from the position at the end of February. Read the rest of this entry »