Don’t Burn Me at the Stake

Brace yourself.  I loved Angels and Demons.

It was fast-paced, artistic, and thrilling.  The acting was excellent and the cinematography outstanding.  This was one of the best films I’ve seen in a long, long time.  It was like The Bourne Identity, Indiana Jones, and National Treasure married and had a sweet kid.

A lot of Christians have had knee-jerk reactions to this film, as if it is a open assault on everything Jesus stands for.

If you are one of those Christians, go see the movie.  That wasn’t the case.  I was on the edge of my seat.  You won’t be disappointed.  I guarantee it.

I’m not going to comment on The DaVinci Code (which I haven’t seen) or on the corresponding novels by Dan Brown.  I haven’t read any book by Brown — mostly because if I’m going to read, it’s going to be nonfiction, because if it’s fiction, I’d rather go to a theater and be done with it in two hours.

I’ve heard that Brown’s books can tend to be somewhat polemical toward Christianity, with a favorable disposition toward science and humanism, but I didn’t find that in Angels in Demons. I saw a lot of stuff (too much to remember, actually) that was quite interesting.  Here’s a few reflections:

  • Ron Howard used the color red better than any movie I have seen since since The Sixth Sense.  The use of reds — burgundy, maroon, blood red, flame red — was nothing short of genius.  It really set a tone and tempo for the movie and made is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
  • The camera angles (not angels!) and recurring symbols (like statues of angels and demons, the color red, fire, water, light, crosses, steel brands) played so well into enhancing the theme of the mystery of Catholic and Illuminati relations.  The symbols drove the plot, and kept me guessing as to what the climax would be — and when it would occur.
  • I give props to the Catholics because their architecture blows away all other types of architecture.  The movie made me want to visit Rome more than I already want to.
  • I paid close attention to this throughout, but according to my memory there was not one negative comment in the movie made toward the Bible or Jesus (which, as I’m told, is not the case in the novels).  The movie was not so much “anti-Christian” as it was “anti-Catholic.”  Remember, this is not always the same.  The movie painted Catholics (not the laymen, but the priests and Cardinals) as being corrupt and untruthful.  Yet there was a compassionate aspect toward Catholics as it brutally portrayed the Cardinals’ persecution.  I don’t think anyone would be able to not hate the main antagonist character throughout the film. The movie also showed academics and scientists as people who genuinely cared for and loved religious people, even being seekers of the divine themselves, despite epistemological differences.
  • Tom Hanks’ character, Robert Langdon, is portrayed as a cerebral academic from Harvard who has a passive vendetta against the Catholic church because of its behavior toward the Illuminati. Nevertheless, what I saw in Langdon was a continual softening toward religion as the film progressed.  At one point, when asked if he believed in God, he said, “I’m an academic…Faith is a gift that I haven’t received yet.”  (I jokingly commented that he is an unconvinced, unconverted Calvinist!)  At the end of the movie, a Cardinal said something to the effect of, “We are thankful God sent you to help us.”  Langdon responded, “I don’t believe God sent me.”  The Cardinal quipped, “Of course he did,” which left Langdon with a sincere look of question on his face, as if to say, “Maybe he did.”  Furthermore, during an interaction with Vittoria, the female researcher, and the Swiss Guard about the “God particle”, Langdon made a comment similar to, “You are talking about discovering the very origins of the universe?”  Though the Bible teaches, and I affirm, that God created the earth, and there is no “God particle,” it shows that Langdon wrestles with this idea of the universe coming from nothing and at least shows interest, though misplaced, in figuring out how it started.
  • This movie, in general, made me rejoice for men like Martin Luther and John Calvin who helped usher in the Reformation, by God’s grace.  I’ll just say it: I’m glad I’m Protestant and Evangelical.
  • The movie had major themes of man’s depravity and redemption.  It’s a classic battle of good and evil. Tom Hanks’ role is a savior-type.  There is a devil (I won’t tell you who).  There are people who need to get saved.  There is evil redemption, that is, revenge.  There are wicked attempts at atonement for past sins.  There are professions of total depravity by the Catholic Cardinals.
  • There was not one sex scene or innuendo.  I heard but a few foul words, but nothing to be concerned about.  I commend Ron Howard for making a movie that sells without using the usual garbage-like sales pitches.

I could keep going, but I’ll stop.  The bottom line is this: Angels and Demons has no more false ideas about God and religion than Indiana Jones, City Slickers, or Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.  If you are a Jesus-loving Christian, there will be parts that make you shake your head and say, “No.  That’s wrong,” but I’ve done that just as often while watching a romantic-comedy and being disgusted at the false reality of how relationships work. 

Every movie is a fictional depiction of someone’s reality.  Every movie exalts something as a god.  Every movie has a savior, a devil, a deep problem, and a redemptive solution.  Every movie calls you to make a decision about what you will worship once you leave the theater.

3 replies on “Don’t Burn Me at the Stake”

Did you watch The Divinci Code? because I did not read the book and went into the movie expecting it to be good (even if horribly depicting history) and come out of the movie thinking it was one of the worse films I had seen. That is what is holding me back from watching Angels and Demons. Basically, I’m asking if you have watched the DC then how would you compare it to A&D?



….I just remember when I came home from the DaVinci Code, thinking it was “like The Bourne Identity, Indiana Jones, and National Treasure married and had a sweet kid,” Mom basically called me a heretic, so I never talked about it at home again. lol.


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