What is the Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code: Background to the "Da Vinci Code"

Dan Brown's novel about "the greatest conspiracy of the last 2,000 years" is the only book phenomenon that can stand against "Harry Potter".

The Da Vinci Code - The Da Vinci Code

After its publication in 2004, "The Da Vinci Code" - the original title of "Da Vinci Code" - stayed at the top of the US book charts for a year. The controversial ripper has sold over 40 million times worldwide. In Germany, Brown's modern search for the Grail was still number 2 on the Spiegel bestseller list at the end of January;

And on May 18, 2006, Ron Howard's film adaptation started, which the right arm of the Catholic Church already condemned in advance.

Producer Brian Grazer wanted to use the material as a storyline for the third season of the hit series "24", but was booted out by Sony Pictures when the "Da Vinci Code" rights were acquired: The church shocker demands a really big screen.

Hidden clues in the works of art of Leonardo da Vinci, the Knights Templar, pagan rituals, a secret brotherhood - these are the cornerstones on which the former English teacher Dan Brown bases his hair-raising but devilishly plausible conspiracy theory: The Holy Grail is a woman! Jesus Christ was mortal and fathered offspring with Mary Magdalene - and the clergy will stop at nothing to cover up the harrowing truth.

“Blasphemy!” Shouted clerical dignitaries. "Total nonsense!", Cursed Opus Dei (God's work), an ultra-conservative Catholicism movement with sectarian character and a penchant for self-flagellation, which sends the angel of death Silas in "Da Vinci Code". And William Donahue, the chairman of the Catholic League, urged Sony to make it clear once and for all in the opening credits that it is a work of pure fiction. Director Ron Howard keeps a low profile, but indicates that he does not use Brown's preface - "All works mentioned are reproduced truthfully". And that he will limit the scavenger hunt, which takes 20 breathless hours in the book, to "under three hours".

Not all of the "works mentioned" reacted in a flattered manner: London's venerable Westminster Abbey refused permission to film the "Da Vinci Code" team: the work was "theologically dubious". Howard waited anxiously for the decision from the French national shrine, the Louvre - his main venue. Instead, he received an invitation to coffee with President Jacques Chirac, who assured him of his support. Especially since "The Da Vinci Code" drove the number of visitors to the museum to a record high in 2005. On this occasion, Monsieur Chirac suggested his daughter's best friend for the female lead. The Paris Ministry of Education granted the approval without any intervention from the highest authorities.

The part of Sophie Neveu, the courageous granddaughter of the murdered Louvre curator, went to "Amélie" "Mathilde" Audrey Tautou. And although Dan Brown describes his hero Robert Langdon as "Harrison Ford in Tweed", Howard chose Tom Hanks, his star from "Splash" (1984) and "Apollo 13" (1995). Only the most famous face is not authentic: Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" is too sensitive to bright headlights. A replica is used in the film.

The feared protests by angry Catholics did not materialize. The English press reported 200 protesters on the set in Lincolnshire. Indeed, a woman dressed as a nun railed lonely on the steps of Lincoln Cathedral (doubling Westminster Abbey). "The other 199," explains Ron Howard with amusement, "wanted Tom Hanks' autograph!"