Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code

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Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code Mel Gibson paid out twenty million of his own money to produce and direct the critically acclaimed movie Passions of the Christ, which depicts the Biblical account of Christ's crucifixion. The movie invited the viewers to learn more about the Christian religion and its beginnings. The book, The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown, takes the reader on a wild journey in uncovering many hidden myths found throughout the Christian religion.

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Brown has emerged into the pop culture scene by causing many if not all individuals to reexamine and study in greater detail both the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci and the influences he [Da Vinci] has had on Christian beliefs.
Through the use of symbols, Brown explains how these pictures, which are commonplace in pop culture, have been altered throughout time. For example, the five stared pentacle, which is what the beginning portion of the book focuses upon, is quickly associated with devil worship due to the fact that American horror movies now consider it a "cliché in satanic serial killer movies, [because] usually scrawled on the wall of some Satanist's apartment along with other alleged demonic symbology" (Brown, 2003, pg. 37). However, upon further study, the pentacle represents a symbol dating to Pre-Christian time, which closely relates to Nature worship where gods and goddesses worked together, like a Yin and Yang, to keep balance and harmony in the world. Moreover, this same pentacle has come to represent war and is painted across the fighter jets and hangs gallantly upon generals' uniforms. In addition, many of the pagan symbols lost out to Christian ideologies in which case Poseidon's trident has been transformed into the devil's pitchfork and the wise crone's hat has now become the symbol for a witch. Even the Ku Klux Klan's infamous white outfits and headpieces which are symbolic of racism, hatred, and bigotry are recognized in Spain as holding deep religious meaning. Many of these symbolic meanings found throughout the book represent a completely different meaning in how these symbols are viewed in pop culture.
This book has had both a positive and negative impact on American beliefs. For starters, Brown makes specific references to Leonardo Da Vinci and his paintings. While both the Mona Lisa and Madonna on the Rocks are only used as clues in the plot, it is Da Vinci's Last Supper which becomes the main focus of the book and what many Americans have continually reviewed since the book's publication. Brown explains the historical reference to Da Vinci's affiliation to the Priory of Sion, which sets up the basis for many of Da Vinci's paintings. It was founded in 1099 AD and took on the job of hiding historical documentation that proves Jesus Christ did have a wife and that the royal bloodline has been carried down throughout the ages. When the main character, Sophie, is asked to reevaluate Da Vinci's Last Supper, she is asked to count how many men are around the table. She recognizes thirteen men; however, upon a closer look, there is actually a woman sitting beside Christ. It was believed that Da Vinci painted Mary Magdalene next to Christ. In a closer review, "note that Jesus and His bride appear to be joined at the hip and are leaning away from one another as if to create this clearly delineated negative space between them" (Brown, 2003, p. 244). This "V" shape representation as explained earlier in the book symbolic for the Grail, the chalice, and the female womb. The basis of this claim contributes to the positive impact of the book which allows more people to become engaged in the artistic side of pop culture by reexamining Da Vinci's paintings; however in a negative analysis many people begin to question both Da Vinci's creations and the Christian beliefs of Jesus. Many explanations and detail found throughout the book greatly add to the overall message of the book—that while the Christian religion may be patriarchal in nature, it is in fact filled with womanly cues consequently leading to the unveiling of Jesus' lineage.
The book was such a major best seller that a movie adaptation was created. The movie justly titled The Da Vinci Code, produced by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, seeks to bring to life Brown's book as a box office hit. Other by products of this book include, paraphernalia such as calendars, websites, and even numerous television shows on the History channel which focused heavily on uncovering the religious truths behind the Da Vinci Code. Moreover, one of the most iconic images from pop culture is Walt Disney, whom Brown parallels Da Vinci to in the book. Brown even uses the movie Snow White—"a princess who feel from grace after partaking of a poisoned apple—was a clear allusion to the downfall of Eve in the Garden of Eden" (Brown, 2003, p. 262). Another Disney movie which carries this same idea is Sleeping Beauty in which Princess Aurora is a code name of "Rose" and she is hidden deep within the forest to protect her from evil many times is viewed as the child's version of the Grail story. Even Da Vinci's infamous Virtuvian Man, which is considered the most anatomically correct drawing, is seen on posters, t-shirts and even mouse pads. The Da Vinci Code has transformed itself into one of the ultimate byproducts of pop culture.
The Da Vinci Code was mainly selected because it combined a variety of aspects into one well written fiction piece. It takes the reader on not only a mysterious journey but it carries with it a vast amount of historical validity which makes the reader question and reexamine many aspects of both pop culture and religion. It is extremely hard to resist the temptation of surfing the Internet and finding a picture of Da Vinci's Last Supper in order to take a closer look to really see if there is a woman sitting next to Jesus. The book also explains how many of the everyday symbols which many Americans have learned the meaning of since childhood actually carry with them a different and more historical meaning. While many individuals have recognized that Jesus Christ has impacted the world on tremendous degrees, it is through reading Brown's Da Vinci Code in which many ideas and religious symbols that are commonly understood in America, are now being called into question and creating a buzz both in a religious and pop culture sense.
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