The Da Vinci Code: The Plot, or What a Tangled Web We Weave…

In my last post, I discussed what was, in my opinion, the rather poor character development in The Da Vinci Code. I felt like the characters weren’t valued as much as the plot itself.

The Da Vinci Code’s plot really isn’t that bad. It’s got a dead guy who leaves clues, a girl with issues, puzzles to solve, bad guys who aren’t really bad guys (and some who are), and good guys who may or may not be good guys, a conspiracy plot that goes back centuries, and a book-long chase scene. It’s like Jason Bourne meets The Fugitive meets Umberto Eco meets Indiana Jones meets The Man Who Knew Too Much. And, it is nearly as believable as Harry Potter.

Again, it’s not really a bad book – it’s just that it’s so mediocre. Now, if you want some really good creative writing, you should read Dan Brown’s Witness Statement from that British plagiarism suit. He spends a lot of time whining about how no one ever recognized his musical genius, and that his first books were virtually ignored. Again, what surprises me is that this book was a hit.

His witness statement is actually very enlightening, as he goes into detail about how he and his wife did their research for the book (and prior books). One of the things you have to know about The Da Vinci Code is that to really enjoy the book, you have to be able to completely suspend any sense of reality and try to remember that none of the names, places or objects refer to the people, places or things that have ever existed. Except for France and England; I’m pretty sure they really exist.

The real problem with the book is just what I mentioned: nonthing in his plot is tied to anything factual. There are so many errors and misstatements pieced together with flawed logic that I often found the book irritating. The aforementioned witness statement by Dan Brown explains why the book fails: his research was limited to spurious texts and others’ bad research. I don’t think he bothered to look at one piece of sound historical evidence. Now, there are several books, articles and websites whose goal is to list Dan Brown’s errors, so I won’t bother to repeat that work. However, here’s a few obvious flaws, that don’t give away any of the “secrets” of the book:

  • No real Leonardo da Vinci scholar would refer to him as “Da Vinci.” It’s not his last name – it merely means, “from Vinci.” That’s like calling me, “from Oregon.”
  • Just because some unknown 4th century hack wrote some drivel and called it a “gospel” doesn’t make it equal with the 1st Century writings. Yet these supposedly intelligent, code-breaking people never do any critical analysis of the information, and there’s no mention whatsoever about the meaning of the word gospel.
  • Brown’s hangup on the “sacred goddess.” If you can’t buy the sacred goddess premise, then you’ll struggle with the rest of the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the sacred goddess thing remotely believable. Of course, if you’ve no concept whatsoever of Jewish culture, you might go, “oh, really?”

This could have been a good story. It does have some interesting sub-plots, and I tended to actually like the ending. Again, I was not shocked and offended by any of the book’s vain imaginations; I was just disappointed at it’s mediocrity. In my opinion, Brown just failed to make the story work.

However the book, and now the movie, will undoubtedly confuse – in many cases, willingly – many people whose goal in life is to become fools (Psalm 14:1). You would probably do well to acquaint yourself with the issues, just to assist those who actually desire to “Seek the Truth.”

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