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The Real Da Vinci Code
The Real Da Vinci Code
Actor: Tony Robinson; Richard Barber (III); Thomas Bridwell; Ann Graham Brock; Thierry Vregil; Henry Lincoln; Margaret Starbird; Michael Baigent; Dan Brown (VI); Jean-Luc Chaumeil; Elaine Pagels; Philippe de Cherisey; Juliet Wood; Pierre Plantard; Arnaud de Sèd
Director: Kashaf Chaudhry
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 41min

History...or hokum? Take a look at the facts on which Dan Brown built his blockbuster novel — THE REAL DA VINCI CODE — You've read the novel. Now learn the real story. With intellectual rigor and a hint of impish humor not...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actor: Tony Robinson; Richard Barber (III); Thomas Bridwell; Ann Graham Brock; Thierry Vregil; Henry Lincoln; Margaret Starbird; Michael Baigent; Dan Brown (VI); Jean-Luc Chaumeil; Elaine Pagels; Philippe de Cherisey; Juliet Wood; Pierre Plantard; Arnaud de Sèd
Director: Kashaf Chaudhry
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Television, Educational, History
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/02/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, French

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Movie Reviews

Smart, funny and detailed
Tim O'Neill | Sydney, NSW Australia | 05/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tony Robinson manages to analyse the supposedly 'historical' claims made in Dan Brown's fiction to see if these claims - believed by many of Brown's readers - stand up to detailed scrutiny. Such an enterprise could end up being earnest, boring or (worst of all) motivated by some Christian agenda, but as a veteran of popularising history, Robinson manages to keep the pace rapid and the tone light without dumbing down the content.

The strength of this documentary is that it sticks purely to the evidence, comparing it at every stage with the claims Brown makes as part of the allegedly 'well researched' background to his novel. In particular, Robinson demolishes the claim made on the novel's first page (under the bold heading 'FACT') that the so-called "Priory of Sion" is a real organisation. Robinson takes to this claim with an entertaining combination of detailed detective work and obvious relish and lays out the real story of the 'Priory' - not a real medieval secret society at all, but rather a clumsy modern hoax by a French eccentric.

With the claims about the 'Priory' demolished (complete with a rather funny interview with a visibly squirming *Holy Blood Holy Grail* author, Mighael Baigent) just about all of the rest of the 'historical background' to Brown's novel begins to fall apart.

While this section of the documentary is highly detailed and definitely worth telling, other parts towards the end of the DVD seemed a little rushed by comparison. Robinson features Leonardo expert, Charles Nicholl (author of *Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind*) who gives a very clear explanation as to why the figure of John to Jesus' right in The Last Supper is not 'Mary Magdalene' and why Leonardo would paint a young man in such an effeminate manner. But, compared to earlier analysis in the DVD, this seems a little brief. The 'fact' that this figure is 'definitely a woman' is one of the things that even casual readers of Brown's novel find convincing, so a bit more of the fairly extensive evidence about the traditional depictions of John as a beautiful youth would have been useful here. Leonardo was working within the traditions of his time, but Nicholl's contribution is so brief that the DVD never makes this totally clear to Brown fans who think they can trust the evidence of their own (totally untrained) eyes over some 'expert'.

Unfortunately, the weakest part of the DVD is the (again) rather hurried analysis of the Gnostic gospels. The average viewer would get the idea from this section of the documentary that the gospels which give Mary a central role in the story are on the same historical level as the gospels in the Bible and they were censored by the evolving Christian faith out of pure sexism. It neglects to make clear that these gospels are far later than the canonical gospels and tell us more about what Second and Third Century Gnostics believed than they do about Mary's likely earlier historical status.

Robinson never explains the far later date of these texts or the fact that they were rejected largely because Fourth Century Christians knew they were of recent origin and didn't represent a truly historical picture of Jesus, let alone Magdalene's role. Bart Ehrman is one non-Christian scholar who does a rather better job of putting these texts back into their historical context and making it clear that, as interesting as they are, they can't be taken at face value as an authentic picture of Magdalene's status in the earliest days of the Jesus Sect. I'm no Christian, but it's quite clear that the Gnostic view of Mary is late, symbolic and theological, not early, authentic and historical.

Robinson compounds this by baldly stating that Pope Gregory the Great declared that Magdalene was 'a prostitute'. In fact, Gregory never said anything of the sort. He did wrongly conflate Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and with the 'woman taken in adultery', but he never said Magdalene was a prostitute - that was simply a folk belief that arose later. Robinson could have made this clear, but in not doing so he gives at least one of Brown's errors credence.

There are also two other important claims that *The Da Vinci Code* makes which have convinced many of its readers - (i) that Jesus was considered simply a mortal prophet before he was turned into a god by the Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD in a cynical political ploy and (ii) that Constantine chose the books of the modern Bible. Both these claims are complete and utter nonsense, but unfortunately Robinson never even tackles them.

This could be because the documentary was long enough and detailed enough as it was. That's fair, but there is quite a bit of time at the beginning given over to a British kook who thinks a tiny alabaster Roman perfume jar he's found is the real Holy Grail and a rather meandering excursus about the Cathars. It's a pity Robinson and his producers didn't cut this stuff short and devote some of the documentary to the rather silly claims about the Council of Nicea and the formation of the canon of the Bible.

It was a pity that Robinson was never able to get Dan Brown himself to comment on the historicity of the background to his novel, considering it's convinced so many readers that it's legitimate, historical and factual. But Brown has become strangely shy about interviews in recent years. Despite this, there was a time when Brown made some quite categorical statements about the history behind his fiction. Robinson uses footage of one of these earlier interviews - one where Brown states emphatically that all the artworks, rituals and secret societies mentioned in his novel are 'all accurate'.

That's quite a claim, but unfortunately it's far from the most extravagant historical claim Brown made on this topic before he mysteriously clammed up to interviewers. In other interviews he insisted that the background was 'all factual'. In one, when asked if he'd have written the book differently if he had written a non-fiction book he declared 'I don't think I would have', assuring the interviewer that, in the course of researching its background 'I became a believer'.

It's a pity Robinnson didn't use those more damning quotes from Brown, since many of his fans try to pretend he never claimed the background to his fiction was historical, when actually he has done so several times.

All that said, this is one of the best refutations of the pseudo history presented as the 'factual' background of Brown's fiction. Brown has stated many times that this background is 'all factual' and Robinson has some glee in showing that it is mostly 'total rubbish'. Many people wonder why anyone would debunk a fictional work, but they seem to overlook the fact that not only has its background been presented and marketed as 'all factual', but millions of readers have taken it as such. If you want a detailed, intelligent, unbiased, completely non-Christian and highly entertaining counter to the idea that there is any validity in the background to Dan Brown's fiction, watch this DVD.

Not the definitive scholarly debunking of this novel's background, but damn close to it. Superb stuff. Highly recommended."
FINALLY!!! A documentary that tells the truth about the Da
Pedro Rosario | Ro Piedras, PR USA | 04/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After seeing a lot of documentaries made on the Da Vinci Code, which essentially try to verify the story by Dan Brown, THIS ONE tells the whooooole truth about the "Da Vinci Code". It presents evidence that the other documentaries ignore, because they want to go with the ride of Dan Brown's novel. For example, that the Dossier Secrets are all forgeries, that the Priur? de Sion was a fraud created in the 1950's, that there is no such Merovingian dynasty present today, that Pierre Plantard is not a Merovingian descendant, and that the Merovingian dynasty does NOT descend of the Jews (which has been historically and genetically confirmed), that Margaret Starbird is essentially wrong about her theory of how Mary Magdalen went to France,that the Holy Grial has nothing to do with the bloodline, that all of Da Vinci's paintings can be explained WITHOUT supposing him knowing anything about Jesus and Mary Magdalen, etc. etc. etc. And STILL people like Michael Baigent insists that there has been no evidence against the main thesis of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", when Henry Lincoln has publically admitted that their work in that book HAS NO SCIENTIFIC VALUE WHATSOEVER!

And what about the so-called researchers like Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince in their extremely poor research in their book "The Templar Revelation" or Margaret Starbird's credentials in her "Woman of the Alabaster Jar"? They are all discredited!

If you really want to get rid of all this "Da Vinci Code" madness, the authors of this documentary hosted by Tony Robinson is great! The other book recommendation is "The Da Vinci Hoax". Feel free to embrace the truth over sensationalism!"
First Class "DaVinci" "DeBunking" (sic)
A Reader | United Kingdom | 05/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I saw this programme when it was aired on Channel 4 in the UK in 2005.It is a first class production which mercilesly debunks the novel in a scholarly way.The problem faced by some is that this is a secular debunking,so charges of religious bias are groundless and crtics of this programme must rely on challenges to Christian teaching regarding Gnostic beliefs.A critical review of this programme is difficult to mount hence the reviewer who gave it 2 stars only justified this low figure, not because of the calibre of the programme, but because she disagreed with Christian teaching.It is 5 stars all the way and is deservedly considered to be the finest expose of the "Da Vinci" nonsense."
The Real Da Vinci Code
Elijah Chingosho | Nairobi, Kenya | 06/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a good production that is useful critique to the Da Vinci Code. The program presents some credible investigation into the supposed facts behind The Da Vinci Code. Robinson does his best to discredit some issues raised in the Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the Da Vinci Code.

This is a well made documentary where Robinson presents his arguments, proposals and conclusions based on the available evidence and compares and contrast the claims and arguments presented by Dan brown. I liked his methodical approach that is convincing particularly the scholarly way he exposes the Priory de Sion as a hoax and not some medieval secret society. Much to his credit, Tony Robinson does not approach the investigation from a religious view, giving his finding much objectivity.

This is a worthwhile film for those who are seeking a more thoroughly investigated refutation of Dan Brown's claims and arguments, although it is not a very conclusive and definitive rebuttal, due to some omissions in the film. Very good viewing for the open minded.
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