Sunday, May 3, 2009

When a Work of Fiction Threatens your Religion

Why does a work of fiction threaten their beliefs so much? I just don't get it. As an aside, Angels and Demons was a much better book than The Da Vinci Code. Indeed, The Da Vinci Code movie was much better than the book, and that typically doesn't happen often. I won't tell you why, because it would spoil the story.

At any rate, the Catholic Church had to throw a hissy fit and not let them film in all the places they wanted to because it wasn't the "correct" view of Catholicism.
Ron Howard: Vatican obstructed 'Angels & Demons'

Associated Press Writer

ROME (AP) -- Director Ron Howard claimed Sunday that the Vatican interfered with efforts to get permits to shoot certain scenes of his "Angels & Demons" religious thriller in Rome - a charge the Vatican said was purely a publicity stunt. The film, which stars Tom Hanks and is based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, has its world premiere Monday in Rome...

At a press conference Sunday, Howard said he hadn't sought cooperation from the Vatican based on the opposition he encountered filming "The Da Vinci Code," another Brown novel that angered many Catholic leaders. But he said the Vatican nevertheless exerted influence regarding his filming permits, and he was told it would not be possible even to shoot scenes in Rome that had churches in the background.

"When you come to film in Rome, the official statement to you is that the Vatican has no influence," he said. "Everything progressed very smoothly, but unofficially a couple of days before we were to start filming in several of our locations, it was explained to us that through back channels and so forth that the Vatican had exerted some influence."

"Was I surprised? No. Am I a little frustrated at times? Sure," he said.

Nevertheless he said he felt that he was able to preserve the overall "Angels & Demons" experience despite the restrictions by recreating scenes on sets. For the Sistine Chapel alone, some 20 members of the production crew - posing as tourists - took photos of all the frescoes, floor mosaics and paintings of the tiny chapel where popes are elected - until they were told to stop, the film's Web site says...

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, refused to comment on Howard's allegations about church interference, saying his charges were purely designed to drum up publicity for the film. Last summer, Rome's diocese confirmed it had barred producers from filming inside two churches because the movie didn't conform to the church's views...

The 2006 film "The Da Vinci Code" took in more than $750 million worldwide. It prompted calls for boycotts by church leaders worldwide with the idea that Jesus married and fathered children and by depicting the conservative Catholic movement, Opus Dei, as a murderous cult. Reaction from church leaders to "Angels & Demons" has been more muted, though one Italian bishop, Monsignor Antonio Rosario Mennonna, said Saturday the film was "highly denigrating, defamatory and offensive" to the Catholic Church, the ANSA news agency reported...
You know, I have to ask if Monsignor Antonio Rosario Mennonna has even read either book, or for that matter even seen the movie that he is talking about. Because quite frankly, I don't see Angels and Demons, the book anyway, as any of the adjectives he uses to describe it, but whatever. I'm just a heathen so what do I know?

I will definitely go see this movie, if only because Ewan McGregor is in it. You know, going from a heroin addict in Scotland to an important official in the Catholic church is a big step. Or maybe it was just the logical progression of things. Lulz.

For those of you who don't know, Ewan McGregor played the part of a heroin addict in Scotland in the movie Trainspotting, and as far as I know, isn't actually a heroin addict himself.


  1. Gotta say, I think it's a big step down from heroin addict in Trainspotting to Catholic church official in this flick to for Ewan McGregor...then, Trainspotting's one of my favorite movies ever (the OD scene with Lou Reed singing perfect day...second only to The End at the beginning and ending of Apocalypse now for all time great use of rock music in a narrative film) and I thought the DaVinci code was such a crappy book I didn't even consider seeing the movie or reading the follow-up...but, if what you say is true, perhaps I should.

    All in all, I found all the big revelations in the DaVinci code to be kinda like if they made a movie about an English professor who risks life and limb to find out the hidden secrets that Shakespeare was gay and somebody else wrote his plays...despite the fact that those are, in fact, unpopular theories that have been well publicized but rejected by most scholars. By throwing a hissy fit, the Catholic Church is essentially showing that it takes those theories seriously enough to find them threatening, which, if anything, is a loss for their side....

  2. I'm intrigued, and must say that I hadn't even heard of said film project prior to this morning however, I know I will see it (of course, Ewan McGregor).

  3. @Yoga, yeah, I would see the movie. I liked it enough that I'd be willing to watch it again. It wasn't the best movie, but it was good. The book on the other hand, I wouldn't bother to read again. And I often read books I like twice, or if I really like them, more. Now I would read Angels and Demons again, I did actually like that book.

    And I love Trainspotting. Most hysterical movie ever. My favorite scene is where they take the train out to the country side and Ewan McGregor's character launches into the spiel about how it's shite being Scottish. I just about roll every time I see it.

  4. Good review of both books, and I agree about the "Angels and Demons"...a very good book!

    More people will be encouraged to go see the film because of the protest than without it, I think. That's just human nature...

    Personally, I enjoyed both books and look forward to the film!

  5. The Vatican doesn't seem to remember the pogroms against the Jews during the Black Plague, or the Church sanctioned Spanish Inquisition.

    It seems to be OK for the Catholic Church to fuck with peoples lives but no one can fuck with the Church.

  6. But of course Grandpa, and don't forget all the other Inquisitions. The Spanish Inquisition was but one of them.

  7. Fiction is truth. Just ask Ayatollah the K who issued a fatwah against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses.
    A terrific documentary on the Catholic Church and its way-too-comfortable bed-sharing with the Nazi Germany is Constantine's Sword, a definite must-see film.