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Peter T Chattaway

Angels & Demons

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Church-history experts, here's something to get you started:

Oh, and just for fun: Maybe it's because I'm viewing this clip out of context, but still, I think the first sentence of this next clip is just wonderfully funny:

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469_jaw_dropping.gif is my preferred method. Edited by David Smedberg

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Fortunately, the main quotes from the first two embedded videos have been transcribed at the film's IMDb page:

Robert Langdon: The Illuminati did not become violent until the 17th Century. Their name means 'The Enlightened Ones'. They were physicists, mathematicians, astronomers. In the 1500's they started meeting in secret, because they were concerned about the church's inaccurate teachings. They were dedicated to scientific truth. And the Vatican didn't like that. So the church began to, how did you say it? Oh, hunt them down and kill them.

[ snip ]

Richter: You said they'd be killed publicly.

Robert Langdon: Yes, revenge. For La Purga.

Richter: La Purga?

Robert Langdon: Oh geez, you guys don't even read your own history do you? 1668, the church kidnapped four Illuminati scientists and branded each one of them on the chest with the symbol of the cross. To 'purge' them of their sins and they executed them, threw their bodies in the street as a warning to others to stop questioning church ruling on scientific matters. They radicalized them. The Purga created a darker, more violent Illuminati, one bent on... on retribution.

The third video, the one that had the really funny sentence (at least to me, but it was late at night when I discovered it, so sleep deprivation may have helped make it even funnier), began with the woman saying to Tom Hanks something like, "If the Path of Illumination leads to the Church [of ...?], then that must be where they're keeping the antimatter!" I just loved the way she excitedly began with these references to churches and "illumination", and then suddenly got all science-fictiony.

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Ugh. That feeling of superheated irritation over the absolute twaddle spouted so earnestly by Dan Brown had faded from my memory. And now it all comes flooding back. The next few weeks might not be good for my blood pressure. I'd better go and see Benjamin Button again.

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And, in a surprise move....

Angels & Demons' may face Vatican boycott

Avvenire, the Vatican's official newspaper, ran a story in Friday's edition noting that the Church "cannot approve" of such a problematic film. The Turin daily La Stampa, meanwhile, said the Vatican would soon call for a boycott of the film, though the same article also quoted Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, who warned against a "boomerang effect" that could call attention to the film and eventually make it more popular.

Full story here.

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William Donohue writes:

The film "Angels & Demons," the prequel to "The Da Vinci Code," opens May 15. Once again, the tag team of Dan Brown and Ron Howard have collaborated in smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales. And once again, the message conveyed to the audience is invidious: the Catholic Church, which did more to keep the universities open and flourishing during the Middle Ages than any other institution, is painted as anti-reason.

Ron Howard responds:

Mr. Donohue's booklet accuses us of lying when our movie trailer says the Catholic Church ordered a brutal massacre to silence the Illuminati centuries ago. It would be a lie if we had ever suggested our movie is anything other than a work of fiction (if it were a documentary, our talk of massacres would have referenced the Inquisition or the Crusades). And if fictional movies could never take liberties with reality, then there would have been no
Ben-Hur
, no
Barabbas
,
The Robe
,
Gone With The Wind
, or
Titanic
. Not to mention
Splash
!

I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: we both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda.

So... let's get this straight. The negative assertions that Howard's film makes about Catholic history cannot be "lies" because they are "fiction" ... but they can still be negative, right? Evidently so, since "fictional tales" can still be "silly and mean-spirited works of propaganda" even though they are "fiction" and not "lies", per se. Glad we got that straightened out.

In any case, William Donohue has responded to Howard's response:

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Thanks for the roundup, Peter. It's entertaining -- more entertaining than the film will be, no doubt.

That's the bottom line for me: If you're going to hurl invective at the church, at least make it entertaining. I can't imagine anyone who sat through The Da Vinci Code having the desire to sit through this follow-up, but what do I know? A LOT of people sat through The Da Vinci Code.

When I received my May movie assignments and Angels & Demons wasn't on the list, I was grateful. (I have to see another movie about "salvation" instead.)

Edited by Christian

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That's funny, Christian, because Ron Howard and others involved in the films have been saying that the new film will take more liberties with the book and try to be more of a Movie; they've basically said that the film version of The Da Vinci Code was constrained too much by fidelity to the source material, which is kind of a tacit admission that the film version of The Da Vinci Code wasn't as entertaining as it could have been. The thing is, everything I have seen in the clips and trailers from Angels & Demons so far seems to match my memory of the book, which I read three years ago ... so if they've taken great liberties with it, I haven't seen any evidence of that yet.

Personally, I love the way the Vatican figure played by Stellan Skarsgard makes a face and sneers when he hears the scientist refer to "the God particle". It's almost campy, the way the film sets up this conflict between ambitious scientists and authoritarian, science-doubting church types.

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Todd McCarthy @ Variety:

Science and religion collide, commingle and eventually reach a state of peaceful coexistence in "Angels & Demons," a follow-up to "The Da Vinci Code" in which director Ron Howard conspicuously gives top priority to the story's beat-the-clock thriller elements. Less turgid and aggravating than its predecessor, this cleverly produced melodrama remains hamstrung by novelist's Dan Brown's laborious connect-the-dots plotting and the filmmakers' prosaic literal-mindedness in the face of ripe historical antagonisms, mystery and intrigue. Although unlikely to match the $750 million-plus worldwide haul of the same team's much-maligned 2006 "Da Vinci" sensation, this adaptation of a lesser-known Brown book will nonetheless make an unholy amount of money.

Although "Angels & Demons" was the first novel to feature Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, the film version is
sensibly positioned as a sequel
to "Da Vinci" in an early scene in which a Vatican emissary requests the professor's help in spite of the existing bad blood. This sequence takes place at a Cambridge swimming pool, enabling it to exhibit Langdon (Tom Hanks) in much fitter condition than he appeared three years ago. He's also clearly changed hairdressers, a good move. . . .

Perhaps recognizing how static and talky "Da Vinci" was, Howard and lenser Salvatore Totino this time have the camera thrashing and thrusting about while keeping Langdon constantly on the move and laying Hans Zimmer's thumping score on top. While more superficially stimulating, the adrenalized approach can't hide the utter absurdity of a timeframe that gives the characters just an hour each time to navigate the labyrinths of the Vatican basement archives, figure out what to do next and make their way through crowds and Roman traffic to the location of the next atrocity. . . .

So it's confirmed: this is a sequel, not a prequel to The Da Vinci Code, even though the two books came out in the opposite order. It's just like the situation with the first two James Bond movies: From Russia with Love was very clearly a sequel to Dr. No (it even refers back to the previous film, which is rare for a James Bond film), even though the book version of FRwL came out one year BEFORE the book version of DN.

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Anne Thompson:

Don't get me wrong. Angels & Demons is in many ways a terrible movie. Tom Hanks deserves every dollar he got paid for keeping a straight face as he spews out reams of clunky expository dialogue, often at top speed on the run. But I was expertly manipulated, first by the scary possibilities of explosive anti-matter created before our eyes by super-colliders--then stolen. There's a dead Pope. Was he killed? And four kidnapped and threatened Preferiti. Is it the Illuminati?

Going behind the scenes of the Vatican during Conclave is cool, like movies about presidents in the Oval Office, or The Queen. These are secret places where great decisions are made--requiring scads of computer graphics. As Stellan Skarsgard and Armin Mueller-Stahl try to impede stalwart academic sleuth Robert Langdon (Hanks), Ewan McGregor is more helpful as the Vatican's Camerlengo (at one point that word made people in my screening giggle).

When my date and I tried to piece the plot together afterwards we gave up. This entertaining summer popcorn movies is so bad it's good. Or at least a guilty pleasure.

See, that's what I'm hoping for. When the editor came looking for people to review this film, I said I wanted to do it "for the giggles". I just hope it's really true that Howard has made this film less boring than the last one.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I hope they have the scene in the movie where he jumps out of a helicopter with nothing but a tarp and parachutes into a river. And then disproves the Bible.

Hate to dash your hopes, but... They leave out a few of the other goofier elements in the book, too (like the bit about artificial insemination). I won't have any comment on whether these changes to the story are good or bad until the movie's release date.

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Interesting. I just noticed that banner ads for this film are running at Crosswalk, and feature quotes from Sister Rose Pacquette and somone at the CW Network, whose name flashed by too quickly to register. Marie something, I think.

So they're going for the Christian market. I can't remember if the filmmakers tried the same route with The Da Vinci Code.

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So I just got back from seeing this, and to be honest was pleasantly surprised. Expectations weren't high, and it's clearly not a great movie, but it was certainly better than Da Vinci as a film, and the church bashing is pretty much minimal. Yes they fictionalised the suppression of a group of scientists who are now out for revenge. But the film almost breathes a sigh of relief once that piece of exposition is out of the way."We've done the silly stuff now we can get on with the MOVIE".

And OK so it's a bit fabricated, but it seemed pretty minor in comparison to what we do know happened around this time - Spanish inquisition and all that - and is very much played as a plot device. Not to mention the fact that there's an openness and a clear disapproval of what is supposed to have happened all those years ago.##And the film ends on the notion that science and faith need to go together (which comes out rhoughout) and that all humans are flawed.

So all in all this might even be a positive film from the perspective of the church.

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: So I just got back from seeing this . . .

Oh, right, it's opened in Europe already, hasn't it? I guess the embargoes are lifted, then, at least in a global forum such as this one!

: Expectations weren't high, and it's clearly not a great movie, but it was certainly better than Da Vinci as a film . . .

An obvious bar to set, even if it is set pretty low. :)

: . . . and the church bashing is pretty much minimal.

They certainly tone down a number of things, compared to the book. (E.g., if memory serves, one of the bad guys

is actually elected Pope, which has certain implications if you believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through the conclave

, but in the film this outcome is averted, however narrowly.) But I still get the sense that these films are portraying the Catholic church as an organization that consists of easily duped pew-sitters (note e.g. the cries for canonization near the end) and leaders who are either evil incarnate or, at best, are well-meaning but are content to let the lies sit there. (Note the scene where one of the "good" guys

is willing to keep everyone in the dark and let them die in the explosion, on the basis that we're all going to heaven anyway in the end

. That's not a lie, per se, so much as a deliberate concealing of the truth -- but still.)

And of course the entire movie is predicated on the notion that Church and Science have been at war for centuries, and it is now -- only now! -- that Catholicism finds itself at a "crossroads" where it may have to accommodate scientific thinking. That very premise is an insult to the many church authorities who have supported and sponsored scientific ventures over the years. (I have long admired the Catholic emphasis on rigorous scientific testing when dealing with claims of the miraculous, for example, whether these claims are being made in conjunction with the phenomenon at Lourdes or with the canonization of saints. And the Vatican has had its own observatory since the 19th century, no?)

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And the Vatican has had its own observatory since the 19th century, no?)

The Vatican has had several observatories, actually. The current one dates to the 19th century, but three others dated to the 18th century.

Even before that, the Catholic Church gave more financial support to the science of astronomy in the six centuries preceding the Enlightenment than all other institutions combined, according to Dr. Thomas Woods (How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization).

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