ContactMusic.com reports that British actor Paul Bettany is puzzled about criticism aimed at the cinematic version of The Da Vinci Code:
Bettany has dismissed criticism of his new movie THE DA VINCI CODE, insisting it doesn't portray Catholicism in a negative light. Bettany, who plays villainous assassin SILAS in the adaptation of DAN BROWN's bestselling book, is baffled by the furore surrounding the movie, because is only entertainment. He tells UK magazine Hotdog, "I've heard rumours in the press about Catholics being upset about it but I haven't met one yet and I haven't had a chat with anyone who's upset with us. "We set out to make a film of the book and that's what we've done. I just don't see how so much anger can be generated by a book you blast through in two days. I think it's quite clearly not a philosophical piece."
No, certainly not philosophical in the strict sense of the word. But a book or movie hardly has to be philosophical to be biased, bigoted, or unfair in its treatment of certain topics/subjects. It might do Bettany good to read the novel and then to actually talk to a Catholic who is concerned about the movie and how it might shape perceptions of the Catholic Church and Church history. Besides, who is saying that Catholics are "angry"? Concerned, annoyed, bothered, curious — yes. Angered? But I suppose that might come from how some media sources have approached this story. After all, when some cartoons lead to violence, bloodshed, and murder, we blame the cartoonists and worry if the cartoons hurt this or that person's feelings. But when a novel leads to critical articles and books, the common wisdom is that the critics are angry, knuckle-dragging fundamentalists who don't know a work of fiction from a memoir from an article in the New York Times. Of course, if people today did confuse the three things, it would be far more understandable than some Muslims calling cartoons "intellectual terrorism."
Meanwhile, it should be noted that director Ron Howard told Newsweek recently that there will be "no placating" Christians in his cinematic version of the novel. He said: "It would be ludicrous to take on this subject and then try to take the edges off. We're doing this movie because we like the book." And he has also indicated that his movie is more than mere entertainment:
"I can tell you we are halfway through the filming and the actors are doing a spectacular job," he told journalists at a French film festival in the Normandy town of Deauville, where he presented his latest film, 'Cinderella Man', on Tuesday. "It's a fascinating story to adapt and essentially it's a great opportunity to entertain and provoke conversation," Howard said (emphasis added).
Apparently Howard has been talking to Dan Brown, whose website quotes the author as saying:
This book is not anti-anything. It's a novel. I wrote this story in an effort to explore certain aspects of Christian history that interest me. The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact and consider The Da Vinci Code an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate. ...
The dialogue is wonderful. These authors and I obviously disagree, but the debate that is being generated is a positive powerful force. The more vigorously we debate these topics, the better our understanding of our own spirituality. Controversy and dialogue are healthy for religion as a whole. Religion has only one true enemy--apathy--and passionate debate is a superb antidote. [emphasis added]
So, Mr. Bettany, there you have it: Dan Brown has given us critics permission to carry on a "dialogue" and a "debate" about his novel and how it presents certain aspects of Chrisian history. And since we'd hate to be apathetic in our criticisms, we shall take up his kind invitation...