Thursday, May 28, 2009

Of Angels and Demons

I have just seen Angels and Demons in the theater. It is the movie adaptation of Dan Brown’s bestselling Angels and Demons, the prequel to another hit, The Da Vinci Code. I have also read the book and have reread it to check the adaptation’s accuracy. There are numerous changes, some small details but the others are quite big. I stopped counting when I reached 20.

1. How Robert Langdon got involved in the case.

2. Vittoria Vetra’s relationship with victim, fellow scientist

3. Good exposition on the realtionship of the Church and Science

4. “do you believe in god? “- should've been said by vittoria

5. arab background ng assassin

6. Langdon was denied access to the Vatican Archives for 3 years only, not 10.

7. Vatican archives scene, Vittoria and Robert are alone.

8. The girl who screamed in a public execution was feeding pigeons

9. Vittoria was kidnapped by the assassin

10. The 4th cardinal wasn’t saved, he died, and was naked

11. The sixth brand is not the “papal seal”

12. The assassin died in Robert and Vittoria’s hands

13. No hospitalization for camerlegno when he was branded

14. Confrontation scene ni Kohler and camerlegno

15. Antimatter, when discovered was immediately taken by the camerlegno

16. Missing “revelation of God” to Camerlegno

17. Robert in helicopter with camerlegno

18. Death of camerlegno

19. Acclamation by adoration, pointed out by a scholar not the cardinals

20. The Elected Pope is the Great Elector.

Of course this is just a movie adaptation, some details in the book cannot and will not be included to keep the movie tight and concise. However there are changes which I think did not really help.

The movie decided to focus on the Church, whereas in the book, the focus is the seemingly irreconcilable differences between religion and science. Hence the title itself, Angels and Demons. That, I think was one of the biggest mistakes in the movie adaptation. In the book, Dan Brown took pains to expound on the advances of science, particularly the anti-matter and its various implications, in science as well as in religion. Brown also touched a very sensitive topic that is still a raging debate, evolutionism vs creationism. In the movie, these aren’t so clear.

One character I was curious about is the camerlegno. I found his character in the book very disturbed, an overzealous man of god, but you won’t see it coming. Dan Brown did a great job building up his character. But in the movie, he was just bland. The religious ecstasy he felt when “God talked to him” was absent. The moment when he “realized” where the anti-matter was placed, gone, edited out.

Another character who underwent a drastic change is the assassin. In the book, he was portrayed as Middle Eastern and very sensual, finding arousal in killing people. Why did they change it? Because of political correctness? Dan Brown has a reason why he made him an Arab. In the assassin’s character, he was also tracing the etymology of a feared word, assassin, and exploring history. By the way, he died falling out of a tower, not being blown to bits by a car bomb.

Vittoria also suffered from this censorship. She wasn’t the shorts-wearing tanned tourist in Vatican City. Vittoria appeared sedate and not sensual at all.

The ultimate twist was also missing, the one that would explain why the pope suddenly died and what his relationship is with science. This was the moment that everything fell to its place, and it was discarded in the movie. Why?

The movie is no doubt better that The Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons had more action and brisker pace. But I wouldn’t trade the book for its movie. The books, both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, gained world-reknown because of controversial issues regarding the church and Brown’s well-reasearched trivia. The movie The Da Vinci Code flopped because it was boring, the book itself, save for its controversial thesis, lacked the oomph for an adaptation. Now, the sequel-prequel Angels and Demons, made up for the boring part. But in the process, changed so much of the book’s details and is almost a separate entity.

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