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Harold F. Hester

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The DaVinci Novel now the Movie
By Harold F. Hester
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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The movie gives us a two-dimension look to a novel but don't get excited, the message is the same...

“The DaVinci Code novel raised many questions for me. I am sharing some as I sort others. What do you know about the painting named the Last Supper? Why is the lady of the Mona Lisa smiling?”

I wrote these words mid-February 2006 shortly after reading the last page of the novel. I blinked a few times as my brain told me to “…write something dummy…. No one will know unless you tell um… write…!”. My brain sometimes makes mistakes but today I agreed, I had to say something so I tried using the media I have grown comfortable with - writing.. I took a deep breath, opened a blank MSWord page and stared at the whiteness of the screen until my brain told the fingers what to do. I had a soft glow building as I heard my brain whisper "...pour a short one and relax..." so I did. While sipping three fingers of Absolut (hold the olive, poured not shaken - neat)… I wondered what my fingers would come up with, so I just read along as words formed sentences…and I waited.

Waiting, I munched on two thick sliced of a great Chicago style pizza, drank a cold beer then poured another three fingers of Absolut. I had just seen the movie and now my questions had answers and I was again at peace with my God and my life. My friend had been right.

The theater was cool and close to capacity and quiet, kinda. Everyone was reverent but murmured comments were throughout as those that could not follow the storyline strained to understand actions on the screen and asked question from those that had apparently read the novel. "...why did he do that...? "...what did she mean saying that...?" "what did he say, vineger?", etc... The audience appeared to be mostly retired and there wasn’t a head that wasn’t either bald or gray. As the movie progressed there was lots of traffic to and from the restrooms. A petite lady and what looked to be her husband and son and two other couples left the theater less then an hour into the movie. As credits rolled and the light came up I saw one reason for some of the noises I had been hearing for close to three hours. Across the aisle a 600 pound man was stuck in his seat and I could see, and hear, he was not interested in Dan Brown‘s novel or Ron Howard‘s movie. He was stuck and not a happy camper. Not sure, but the movie house may have required him to buy two tickets.

If you read short stories like me you skim and skip the mundane to get right to the meat… you read the last page first. If you do that this time you may miss some interesting comments and story. Take a few minutes and read down through my first “DaVinci” and sit back, pour yourself something cold and read my thoughts. I promise to be brief.

As a refresher, this was written last February:

....Just when I think I have life figured out something changes. As for the Holy Grail, I always though I knew ‘what’ the Grail was and the ‘where’ question was either France or England. Wars have been waged, fortunes made and lost, people have killed or died seeking the Holy Grail for two-thousand years and it is still being sought, for many reasons. All but one of these reasons comes from people much higher in the food-chain then I, so, I just figured they would tell me when they knew. I think the DaVinci Code did that, but…I wonder.

I have just finished reading and thoroughly enjoyed the novel The DaVinci Code and now feel I may have been misguided in my cloistered thinking about life. Why? Because, now grays have overtaken the “blacks” and “whites” of truths as I know them.

Libraries, book stores and many homes have books and novels. I have only a few; but, Barns & Noble and Amazon have millions. Have you ever wondered where those books and novels come from? Do you even know what a novel is? Where they come from is easy. Folks like you and I write them. Those of us that are really bad at telling stories are called Wannabees. The rest of us authors are called Writers. Writers are better at telling a story then the wannabees; but, never-the-less only a story teller. Writers do it on a regular basis but every once in awhile a wannabee will get lucky and write an untold story which may have many gray areas, half-truths or fabricated facts which reads well. It is most probable the kind of story which puts a tear in your eye and a smile on the lips at the same time it is putting doubt in your mind. You writers do that with ease, grace and intelligence. Even when telling true accountings from life we wannabees are prone to have us our license-to-fib to embellish or make the story-line more readable or as my publisher once called it, tongue-in-cheek Literary License. As a third-class wannabee I use that license when the truth just doesn’t sound right or makes my protagonist sound too lackadaisical or wimpiest or I am trying to make a point and the truth doesn’t do it. Hay, it is my license to fib.

True, writers are not wannabees like I and can get their point across in a normal gender non-specific structured action verb, adjective, noun, pronoun or adverb sentences and not need to ramble in run-on sentences looking for meaningless words which go on and on until readers decides you forgot where the period key is so you just keep writing until an idea entered your head. Dan Brown is a Writer.

I almost didn’t write this short story; but after the germ of an idea took shape and the first draft was outlined in my head, the idea would not go away. So…as a wannabee I have to say once again I really enjoyed The DaVinci Code. It was a page-turner, a bit hard to follow in spots but nevertheless a damn good tale. Those parts I did not understand, I knew (hoped might be a better word) their true meaning would somehow sneak into my subconscious before the story ended. For over 450 pages and many sleepless nights the novel has made me think, and wonder. Sitting here at my keyboard watching the sun transition from a dark orange to a brilliant white and the black of the sky adjusting from its grays to a majestic unambiguous blue, the morning comes to life and bewilderment and awe deepen and…I wonder.

Is it Memorex or is it real?
Is it just an accomplished story told by a master writer?
Is it truth or just an Urban Legend or maybe just a hell of a story?
Who or what can be believed?
My dad always told me “…don’t believe anything you hear or read and only half of what you see…” but, dad was never sober long enough to tell me why he felt that way.

Words written two thousand years ago… are they factual? I have a tendency to believe ancient words because it was not until the turn of the 21st century it became fashionable to lie. If an answer is hard to come by, think about the year 4006AD. Two thousand years from now. As these words are read then, will they be believed as factual?

As a youth, I attended a Baptist Church in the south. It was not the Southern Baptist which comes to mind with fire and brimstone sermons, even though I had an uncle that was your typical Southern Baptist minister who singed his mustache every week. My Baptist church was just a church which happened to be in the south. I have never liked the idea of believing in Heaven because I was terrified of a fire and brimstone eternity. During my clumsy years and to this day during my stupid times, I sometimes severally burn parts of my body and can not associate that kind of pain - for an Eternity. My head tells me no God can be that cruel. Having said that, streets paved with gold, fluffy clouds, eternal happiness and winged, perfect people is also difficult to believe - sometimes. Imagine it, yes hope for it, yes but, actual belief is difficult for anyone that can use only a small percent of a mediocre brain to begin with. It is estimated that Einstein used only 10% of his brain; so, we mere mortals use a lot less.

Have you ever noticed older people always have well-worn bibles or qurans and even ouija boards close at hand? They are studying for finals.

Truth or literary license? If ancient words can’t be believed and if there is no after-life or life everlasting, I feel the real waste of a human life are those that take a vow of poverty or chastity. An unadulterated belief in anything is all powerful and the cornerstone of family and respectable human beings. I envy a person who can devote a life to a Belief. Personally, I am too weak and always tend to bend with the wind. Creature comforts, the feel of smooth, hot flesh and the cooling down afterglow while you catch your breath from making love with another person is indescribable. I am weak, but I… wonder.

What are my religious beliefs? Many times they are confused. I do not attend church on a regular basis; but, I believe in and chat with God daily. As a baptized, Protestant I spent many years on my knees in Catholic schools and attended daily Mass listening to “…hail Mary full of Grace…” until I was afraid of girls. As time passed and I traveled the world I, witnessed Buddhist monks reduced to ashes for a belief, youth defying military tanks for a belief and groups drinking arsenic-laced tea while others commit suicide in their bunk beds as comets passed. They had a belief and… I wonder.

I raised a son in a Methodist environment; had a Seventh-day-Adventist brother-in-law, have lived in the Far-East where Buddha was the law of the land, enjoyed mass participation and group sing-along of black gospels and the full music and stage productions of present day Lutherans. Our world takes all kind of people…and every person is an individual and we all have our beliefs.

All religions have the word of their God.

It is the interpretation of that word is turning my hair gray. For example, I can understand the statement, “…will always be…”, but, the one that gives me the most trouble understanding is, “…has always been…” Doesn’t everything begin – somewhere? Or maybe, it’s just that percentage of my intellect again? Kinda makes a person…. wonder.

My son with a 3.8 GPA is a EE college graduate and agnostic who believes in the big-bang theory of creation. A very close and ultra-religious friend that is true -catholic believes in God, Purgatory, hell and the sanctity of women and family told me unequivocally the DaVinci novel is “…Pure Fiction”. Makes me… wonder.

Of the twenty-two Major religions of the world which include: Christianity, Islam, Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist, Hinduism, Chinese traditional religion, Buddhism, primal-indigenous, African Traditional & Diasporic, Sikhism, Juche, Spiritism, Judaism, Baha'I, Jainism, Shinto, Cao Dai, Zoroastrianism, Tenrikyo, Neo-Paganism, Unitarian-Universalism, Rastafarianism, Scientology and also includes the 45 churches grouped under Christianity… ALL BELIEVE. I personally don’t understand the difference between the Sunni and Shi'ite but then when a billion people practice it, I don’t need to know, but… I wonder.

Would you like a bit of food for your brain so it does not atrophy today? Think about this: Was Jesus married? Was Mary Madeleine a prostitute or wife of Jesus? Did Jesus have a family, a daughter? Is there a Holy Grail? Is the Grail a ‘thing’ or something else? Don’t answer off the top of your head, think about it. I did and some of the answers made me…wonder.

In my early twenties, I was fortunate to live in 1950s Paris, France. Monuments were black with age and soot, untainted beauty on one side of an avenue and darkness on the other. It was the City of Love and physical loving could be witnessed most any day down by the banks of the Seine. Artists lived and created on broken sidewalks, whores became wives and mothers, and white-flag factors flourished, but sometimes…I wondered.

In my four years in Paris, I spent endless hours in a rundown building called the Louvre. I was twenty-four years old and dumb as a stick by any measure. I graduated college but that was all book-knowledge. I didn’t have a clue about life and especially life of other cultures and times. Until I left home for college, I thought all people were red-necked white hillbillies who spoke with a southern accent. Fifty years later, I still have a Texas twang and am completely people color blind. Color of skin doesn’t bother me. It is stupid people that roast my chops. But, I do know that …stupid is that stupid does… The Louvre then and now is a treasure house of the Masters – painters and sculptors alike, it is those that create using God-given talents. Be it commissioned or individual ideas, master pieces were created and survived. Paintings are more than pictures. Sculptors do more with marble and limestone than merely sculpt. Did you know or are you cognizant that all painting and statues tells stories? The Sistine Chapel is a prime example as is the Last Supper and as are the undeveloped pictures in your camera. Winged Victory is…. well, I don’t want to go into that.

My well read and religious friend who told me the DaVinci Code was fiction is infinitely smarter then I, so I will merely pass on his and a few other comments from people of influence that now reflect, after reading the DaVinci Code novel, some of my new thinking: But I still… wonder.

"1. Has this book changed your ideas about faith, religion, or history?
2. Would you rather live in a world without religion…or a world without science?
3. Will you look at the artwork of Da Vinci any differently now that you know more about his "secret life?"
4. A stunning new thriller that will provoke much debate. Dan Brown's extensive research on secret societies and symbology adds intellectual depth to this page-turning thriller. His surprising revelations on Da Vinci's penchant for hiding codes in his paintings will lead the reader to search out renowned artistic icons as The Mona Lisa, The Madonna of the Rocks and The Last Supper. The Last Supper holds the most astonishing coded secrets of all and, after reading The Da Vinci Code, you will never see this famous painting in quite the same way again."

Although the Grail myths and stories date to 5 BC, there is no mention of the Holy Grail in the Bible.
Leonardo Da Vinci lived in the fifteenth century and was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.
The Last Supper is not a “picture” but a fifteenth century interpretation and pure conjecture of Jesus and his disciples gathering for a last time – Matthew 26
Conjecture can be typified by the disembodied hand holding a dagger and the presence of Marie Magdalene depicted in the supper.
Mona Lisa’s face is androgynous and is smiling because her name is an anagram of the divine union of male and female – AMON (Egyptian god of fertility) and L’ISA (goddess of fertility) AMON L’ISA or Mona Lisa.
A novel is new and unusual, can be fictional, is length and is about people.
A story can be fictional but is more about “things” and is shorter than a novel.

If you don't read the novel, the movie is now in movie house everywhere.

Today I took my own advice and saw the movie.

I was disappointed....and relieved.

In my youth living in Paris and spending many wondrous hours roaming the great halls of the Louve where the movie began were not there. I expected to see many familiar things and places. I didn't. Scenes were dark and the original works of The Masters could not be enjoyed. There was more time spent in a unisex bathroom then developing the scene of a murder in the great hall.

The movie jerked me from scene to scene without being given the time to absorb what I was just told/shown. Maybe my problem was I was trying to relate the scene to the novel. If I had not read the book the vinegar scene and the Roseline would have gone over my head. Anyway…

Having said that, Ron Howard did another excellent directing job…
Audrey Tautou was genuine, pleasant to look at and seemed perfect for the role
Tom Hanks… who could say anything bad about Mr. Hanks….
I even liked the albino monk but winced every time he took his clothes off.

Even being disappointed in not seeing more familiar places in and around Paris, the movie was OK and reinforced what my brain and intellect had been telling me since I first sipped those three fingers of Absolut….

The movie took plenty of creative license with facts but who am I to argue a story that as of this writing has sold over 40 million books world-wide, movie box office sales were nudging the $500 million mark and Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and Dan Brown are all smiling as they stroll to the bank.

The novel, now the movie are just entertainment. Please re-read this last sentence - ENTERAINMENT ONLY meant to be a money-maker - meant to entertain and make money. My brain knows that but sometimes in the quiet of the evening, I wonder.      

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Reviewed by Leland Waldrip 5/27/2006
Great review of both book and movie. I read the book and saw the movie. I observed the people in the theater I was in to be quiet and absorbed.
Two stories of an execution. In one the executed man's unknown offspring is hidden away and cared for by a secret society.

In the other story, it is a God that is executed. He has been performing miracles, walking on the surface of a lake, raising dead people, making blind people see again. After his own death he rose from the dead.
Now which is fiction? For some there is no choice. Some would say toss a coin and don't bother to look at the result.
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 5/26/2006
I haven't seen the movie yet, but it is pure entertainment. I know some people who are upset and I tell them, it's fiction and he's not trying to change your minds about the bible. Besides, if you're at peace with your beliefs, a novel 'can't' change your mind, so why worry? I think it's a great suspense/mystery and very enjoyable.

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