Friday 17 January 2014

Worksheet: Screening Movie The Da Vinci Code based on novel by Dan Brown

Worksheet: 'The Da Vinci Code'

The Da Vinci Code, Columbia Pictures (2006), directed by Ron Howard from a script by Akiva Goldsman (based on the novel by Dan Brown); producers Brian Grazer and John Calley. Cinematography by Salvatore Totino; score by Hans Zimmer. With Tom Hanks (Robert Langston), Audrey Tautou (Sophie Neveu), Ian McKellen (Leigh Teabing), Jean Reno (Bezu Fache), Paul Bettany (Silas), Alfred Molina (Bishop Aringarosa). 148 minutes. (Goldsman and Brown)
Pre-viewing Task:

·      Genre:

o   What is suspense thriller?
o   Have you come across any novels by Sidney Sheldon?
o   Have you watched any film by Alfred Hitchcock?
·        Central Theme:
o   What is conspiracy theory?
o   What is conspiracy fiction?
o   What is Mary Magdalene's role in the history of Christianity.
§  “The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred, but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male Church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean.
§  It was man, not God, who created the concept of 'original sin,' whereby Eve tasted of the apple and caused the downfall of the human race. Woman, once the sacred giver of life, was now the enemy."
§  “This concept of woman as life-bringer was the foundation of ancient religion.”
§  “Sadly, Christian philosophy decided to embezzle the female's creative power by ignoring biological truth and making man the Creator.”
§  “Genesis tells us that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Woman became an offshoot of man. And a sinful one at that. Genesis was the beginning of the end for the goddess."
* "It's important to remember that the ancients' view of sex was entirely opposite from ours today. Sex begot new life - the ultimate miracle - and miracles could be performed only by a god. The ability of the woman to produce life from her womb made her sacred. A god... It's a deeply sacrosanct ceremony".

While-viewing Task:

While watching the movie The Da Vinci Code, keep an eye on following questions:
1.     Compare the beginning of the Novel (Brown) and that of the movie. What difference do you notice? Which narrative seems to be more effective? Give your reasons.
2.     How is Christianity challenged in novel? What sort of religious controversy is discussed?
3.     Which truth from the life of Jesus Christ was buried and constant attempts were made to hide some facts? WHY?
4.     Da Vinci’s painting is symbolically observed by symbologists like Leigh Teabing and Robert Langdon. How do they read symbols? What do they deconstruct in the process of re-reading Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting?
5.     Explain the symbolism in ‘Holy Grail’? How is this symbol re-interpreted in the novel by Dan Brown?
6.     Concept clarification: Watch carefully to understand following terms:
a. Symbology (Iconography)
b.     Sarcophagus (Mary Magdalene's Sarcophagus in 'The Da Vinci Code')
c.      Merovingian Dynasty
d.     Opus Dei
e.      Priory of Scion
o. Sangreal = (Sang (blood) + Real (royal) / San (Holy) + Greal (Grail)
p. Pantacle (Up and Down Triangle) = Male + Female = Creation of Life  

7. How does the portrayal of Sophie's character in the movie observe the sanctity of 'Feminine Sacredness'?

Film Review - Da Vinci Code

Post-viewing Task: 

  1. Brown states on his website that his books are not anti-Christian, though he is on a 'constant spiritual journey' himself, and says that his book The Da Vinci Code is simply "an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate" and suggests that the book may be used "as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith."
  2.  “Although it is obvious that much of what Brown presented in his novel as absolutely true and accurate is neither of those, some of that material is of course essential to the intrigue, and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman has retained the novel's core, the Grail-related material: the sacred feminine, Mary Magdalene's marriage, the Priory of Sion, certain aspects of Leonardo's art, and so on[1].” How far do you agree with this observation of Norris J. Lacy?
  3. (If)You have studied ‘Genesis’ (The Bible), ‘The Paradise Lost’ (John Milton) and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (Dan Brown). Which of the narrative/s seem/s to be truthful? Whose narrative is convincing to the contemporary young mind?
  4. What harm has been done to humanity by the biblical narration or that of Milton’s in The Paradise Lose? What sort of damage does narrative like ‘The Vinci Code’ do to humanity?
  5. What difference do you see in the portrayal of 'Ophelia' (Kate Winslet) in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, 'Elizabeth' (Helena Bonham Carter) in Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or 'Hester Prynne' (Demi Moore) in Roland JoffĂ©'s The Scarlet Letter' or David Yates's 'Harmione Granger' (Emma Watson) in last four Harry Potter films - and 'Sophie Neuve' (Audrey Tautau) in Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code? How would justify your answer?
  6. Do novel / film lead us into critical (deconstructive) thinking about your religion? Can we think of such conspiracy theory about Hindu religious symbols / myths?
  7. Have you come across any similar book/movie, which tries to deconstruct accepted notions about Hindu religion or culture and by dismantling it, attempts to reconstruct another possible interpretation of truth?
  8. When we do traditional reading of the novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University emerges as protagonist and Sir Leigh Teabing, a British Historian as antagonist. Who will claim the position of protagonist if we do atheist reading of the novel?
  9. Explain Ann Gray’s three propositions on ‘knowability’ with illustrations from the novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
a.       1) Identifying what is knowable 
b.      2) identifying and acknowledging the relationship of the knower and the known
c.      3) What is the procedure for ‘knowing’?


    Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. Great Britain: Transworld Publisher, 2003.
    The Da Vinci Code. By Akiva Goldsman and Dan Brown. Dir. Ron Howard. Perf. Tom Hanks. Prods. Brian Grazer and John Calley. 2006.

    [1] From: Arthuriana, Vol. 16, No. 4, SARACENS IN MALORY (WINTER 2006), pp. 83-85Published by: Scriptorium PressStable URL:

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