Angels and Churches

June 18, 2008

Clapperboard The Diocese of Rome is being remarkably petty. Sadly, it is no great surprise.

They have refused permission for various churches in Rome to be used in the filming of Angels and Demons, based on the book of the same name by Dan Brown. Key action sequences in Brown’s bestseller were set in the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo and other prominent Rome churches, but will now have to be filmed somewhere else.

This ban is infantile and unbecoming on at least two counts.

Firstly, whereas the church may have a gripe with Brown it is over his most successful work, The Da Vinci Code, which has already been filmed, because its premise revolves around an unorthodox rendering of the life of Jesus. There is nothing in Angels and Demons that attacks the foundations of the Roman Catholic faith. Alright, a number of clerics meet untimely deaths in churchy surroundings but that is not the issue. The church don’t like Brown because he has made a lot of money out of “telling porkies about Jesus”, so they won’t let him come round to play any more.

But what I find the most petty is that this ban will not stop anyone, believer or otherwise, from seeing the film nor change what is portrayed in it. If Director Ron Howard can’t shoot in the Chigi Chapel then his scouts will find some other church somewhere to play stunt double and hardly anyone will know the difference or care. They won’t be able to use the original Bernini statue of Habbakuk and the Angel so they’ll make a passable facsimile out of papier mache. So it will waste the film studio’s time and money but otherwise achieve nothing. If that isn’t petty and childish then I don’t know what is.

I wonder if the film’s star Tom Hanks will reprise the eyebrow-raising hairstyle he sported in The Da Vinci Code? Now that’s a sound reason to ban him from a church, or anywhere else for that matter.

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