Understanding The Da Vinci Code

Language Should Never Stand in the Way

By David S. Lewis

I saw The Da Vinci Code recently, in France of all places, quite an interesting movie and an ingenious plot, although my understanding of it was marginalized because the film was dubbed in French with no English subtitles-and why should there have been English subtitles (yet twenty miles away and two nights prior it debuted in English at the Cannes Film Festival).

The film, while raising many questions that the world is now dealing with regarding important historical and religious matters, also brought into question, for me personally, my ability to understand the French language. I like to think that my comprehension is adequate, but that may have only been the case decades ago when fate and parental guidance compelled me to parlez more frequently-at school. So, I sat through The D-Code absorbing what I could of this intriguing movie, and would like to present here a brief synopsis and review based on my comprehension of the French language or lack thereof.

In Paris, in the basement of a large museum, they call it the Louvre or something like that, a guy gets murdered and writes a note before he dies that the police should contact Tom Hanks. We don't know why they're supposed to contact Tom Hanks, because the film is a murder mystery, but we soon find out that there's some big secret that nobody is supposed to know about because it would upset the foundations of western civilization. Wow, I got all that in French, but people speak French quickly in movies, even the dubbed versions, and watching Tom Hanks' lips move to some French guy's voice didn't exactly facilitate my comprehension; so I wasn't always sure what Hanks was saying, my non public school education aside, and there's a chance I may have misunderestimated a thing or two. But one thing's for sure, there was some big secret that an extremely pale guy in a robe didn't want anybody to find out about, because it would rock the boat of our most basic values and assumptions, I think.

Of course, there's a woman involved. She's quite beautiful (speaks French too), and although she and Tom are up to their necks in intrigue you get the feeling that maybe they'll get together and someday have children, French children, because there's something very French about this movie and the woman (and the dubbing), and you get the sense that these children will be important, because, as it turns out, Tom Hanks is a distant relation of someone extremely important, like, do I have to say it, Leonardo Da Vinci, who painted the Mona Lisa as a gender-confused self-portrait-the likeness of which bears an incredible similarity to Hanks himself (see above), showing all of us that transgender issues need to be discussed in a more open manner in our society and that the legacy of Christianity was somewhat dysfunctional in this regard, having failed to out the Merovingian monarchs, who spent a great deal of time in the closet and not the water closet because they didn't have any at that time. And we learn that Hanks and co-star Audrey Tautou are destined to be president and first lady of the United States, spawning a long line of political figures, all named Hanks, part French, part American, and destined to repair and reinvigorate historical ties between the U.S. and France (this came through in the dubbed version). Not only that, but Da Vinci's painting, The Last Supper, contains some extraordinary clues in this regard, because Tom Hanks appears in the painting, as a woman, just left of center, tipping us off that he's not just a transgenderist but a potential Democratic presidential candidate (the two are often synonymous) who will unite all people under the banner of universal understanding in a messianic fashion that will transform the world, just as Leonardo intended.

That much was clear, even in French, and I was quite proud that after so many years I was able to retain such proficiency in comprehending the language. My skills may have waned, though, regarding the next part, in that according to my take on the film Tom Hanks' love interest, Audrey Tautou, is also a distant relation of Dan Brown, the guy who ripped off The Da Vinci Code from the real authors, and that she would, through some obscure version of the doctrine of vicarious atonement decreed by the 4th Century Council of Nicea, have to pay the ultimate price for Brown's plagiarism by hooking up with Hanks, a guy who has no interest in women, not even the gorgeous French-speaking variety. That was how I understood the story anyway. And I'm sorry for giving away the plot to those of you who haven't seen the film. Pardons. Désolé. Mucho gusto.

After the show, with all the transgender issues involved and the sexual frustration generated by juxtaposing Hanks, who obviously has no interest in women, with the irresistible Audrey Tautou (an affair never to be consummated), I needed to relax and enjoy the cuisine for which the French are so famous. Exploiting my command of the language again, and having reassured myself of my proficiency while watching the film, I ordered the Sea Bass Provençal, one of my favorites. It was odd, though, because the waiter brought me mussels. Now how did that happen?

Returning to Livingston, I noticed that The Da Vinci Code was playing at the Empire Theater. I should see it again in English, I thought, pick up the various nuances I may have missed; but then I thought again-why bother? I already know the story.








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