Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dan Browned

I know this is not what I usually post about, but last Sunday I finally watched The Da Vinci Code. Yes, I had read the reviews beforehand; so yes, I knew it was basically a big load of bullshit. But you know what? Halfway through the movie you can’t help but believe it. The moment doesn’t last (a good thing, considering I was watching it on a Sunday and hadn't gone to church yet) but it’s there. Maybe it’s part of the suspension of disbelief process; maybe it’s that the movie is so complex and compelling, you have to believe it to understand it to the end. But you know what? The movie warns you.

There are three points in the movie, where the characters tell you that this whole thing is a fake. Three fleeting passes that are what allowed Dan Brown to, after the fact, go through all his interviews saying, “Of course it’s all true! Ninety-nine percent of it is true! Completely and entirely true! … I can’t believe you fell for it.”

”You mean this is real?”
“We’ve been brought into a world of people who think it’s real.”
This short exchange, near the beginning of the movie, anticipates the question everyone would ask Brown afterwards, and answers it. But the answer is very sneaky. It is quickly covered up with, “Real enough to kill for.” What Langdon is trying to say is, “It doesn’t matter if it’s real or not; we’re trying to tell a story here, and for effects of this story, for the effects of the world where it takes place, it’s real. If you don’t think it’s real in your world, forget about that; just go with it.” Of course, Brown takes his own advice and realizes that it doesn’t make sense for that to be there, for the effects of the story; and so covers it up.

”The eye sees what it wants to see.”
This phrase, repeated by Dr. Teabing when he’s “exposing” his conspiracy theory and why people don’t ordinarily see it, gets turned on its head by Langdon at the end of his “exposition”. Here, Brown is much less subtle, the point being exactly what the character is referring to. And the meaning is this: “Here are the evidences. By themselves, they don’t mean anything. If you want to associate a meaning to them, it’s exactly that: something you want to do. But the conclusion you come to does not necessarily follow from the premises.” Similarly, the conclusion Brown’s come to, and presented as a story, is not necessarily what follows from these premises. It is what he wants to see in them.

”It doesn’t matter if this is real or not; what matters is what you believe.”
The movie closes with the most direct message possible to the audience. So if after all that you still believe the whole thing, you deserved being Dan Browned

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