The Vatican has blocked Hollywood director Ron Howard from filming in two churches essential to the plot of Dan Brown’s novel, “Angels and Demons,” reports the Telegraph.co.uk.
The churches, Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria, will be recreated on a soundstage, though the filmmakers were not forbidden to shoot the outsides of the churches. Santa Maria della Vittoria is the setting for a scene in the book when Mr. Langdon — played by Tom Hanks — finds a cardinal being set on fire.
A spokesman for the Vatican stated:
“Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn’t necessary. Just the name Dan Brown was enough. “
He also added that most films are given permission, provided that they respect “the traditions of the Church.” Following in the footsteps of sequel, “The Da Vinci Code,” “Angels and Demons” very obviously does not respect this request.
Hollywood and religion have always had a fickle relationship. More often than not, Hollywood is accused of forever “getting it wrong.” Every now and then, a film will surface that isn’t blatantly religious, but definitely nods that way. This nod is usually enough to satisfy viewers.
This is not so in the relationship between Catholicism and Hollywood. Unless the film is about a purely religious subject and done by a director willing to stay true to Catholic beliefs (Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” and Leonardo Defilippis’ “Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux”) Catholicism and film simply don’t mix.
One recounts Hollywood and Catholicism’s bouts in films such as “Dogma” and especially in this case, “The DaVinci Code.” Ever since Ron Howard announced that he would be making a film of Dan Brown’s novel, the controversy began. Protests and angry letters went back and forth, religious leaders and supporters of “The DaVinci Code” were arguing on national television in the weeks before the film premiered. When it finally was released, the film was popular, but as a whole, it was not all it was hyped up to be.
The Hollywood Reporter said the performances were “stiff, unappealing”, while the UK Guardian newspaper called it a “two-dimensional thriller which, for an awful lot of the time, neglected to thrill”.
Director Ron Howard found the bad reviews “frustrating” and “disappointing.” As far as the backlash from Catholics and Christians in response to the film, he said,
“This is supposed to be entertainment. It is not theology. It should not be misunderstood as such.”
Though the filming is only midway through, it looks like the controversy that stalked “The Da Vinci Code” won’t be dissipating with the filming of “Angels and
Demons.” If anything, Ron Howard should be prepared for yet another backlash. Entertainment or not, when the subject of the film is theology, you’re going to get a backlash from those who believe in it.
Malcolm Moore, Vatican bans ‘godless’ Da Vinci Code sequel Angels & Demons from Rome churches, Telegraph.co.uk.
‘Millions’ flock to Da Vinci Code, BBC News.