I watched ‘Da Vinci Code’ and I really, really liked it. (One has now stopped taking mindless rickshaw rides to save money to visit the Louvre.) I think Tom Hanks was perfectly cast as the quiet and erudite professor and the girl was adorable. Lilting French accent, clear, innocent eyes, ability to run on high heels – is that perfect or what? My favorite character was the ‘Teacher’ though. Wicked, yes, but a wonderful sense of humor. I remember seeing him in some other very popular film, but I can’t remember which one. Maybe he played a role in ‘Gladiator’ or maybe in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ or..I could just keep naming all the Ron Howard films, but it is likely that he has acted for other directors.
So, as things stand, I have really liked the film. As for it not being as good as the book (as ageless as that contention is), I didn’t think the book was a literary masterpiece either. It was a story waiting to be a screenplay. And that’s what happened. Nice, but not extraordinary and ‘one of the best books ever written?’..I mean, really!
In my opinion, the movies that have really failed the books they are based on have been ‘Godfather’ (all of those Coppola films that went on endlessly.) I understand ‘Godfather’ was also directed by a Peruvian director, who is said to have done more justice to the spirit of the novel but I have my doubts. I have read THE Puzo novel and other Puzo novels, not as familiar but just as good (‘The Sicilian’, for example) sitting on a bench at Bandra Station for 5 hours. That’s how it ‘had’ me. Nothing else comes close. Nothing else ever came close to coming close.
Another book-to-movie letdown is ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (all of them – the TV series, the movies, the TV plays, the ‘produced only for BBC’ shows – every single one of them.) No matter how many times the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is told, re-told, interpreted, adapted, essayed, depicted, etc. etc. you still judge the caliber of the film by how it portrays the spark between Darcy and Elizabeth. It’s a timeless litmus test. You can have the costumes, the settings, the virgin, rough English countryside, excellent walks, well-orchestrated balls, fancy tea-parties…you could even have cast Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy perfectly (they could be great by themselves), but it all boils down to ‘how are they together?’ That play of wind and fire, the jostle of ‘tongue-in-cheek’ charm and ‘pearls-before-swines’ demeanor. While in many movies, Elizabeth rises to the occasion of portraying the classic Jane Austen character, Darcy usually falls short. Somehow, most actors in this role seem to equate sang-froid with looking like a cardboard. And when they must portray their ‘softening’ emotions towards Elizabeth, they are quite reminiscent of a cardboard that got soggy in tap water. The very worst let-down of the aloof gentleman, of course, was the guy with Aishwarya in Bride and Prejudice. Darcy is not supposed to be intimidated by Elizabeth, for God’s sakes. He was more Archie than Darcy, frankly.
Hmm, now getting to the point that I had to make..well…it was an interesting point but now I can’t remember…mustn’t get distracted by people’s screensavers..drat! Yes! I’ve got it now.
While watching ‘Da Vinci Code’, I had the kind of movie experience I hadn’t had in ages.
First, it was House-Full (and not just on the boards near the ticket-counter, but really, there were no empty seats.)
Secondly, and most astoundingly, I didn’t hear one mobile phone call attention to its quotidian purpose of disturbing people at very odd times.
Whatever it be said of the film, it certainly got people to behave.