Evaluating Angels and Demons: As Fiction
If we avoid nit-picking its numerous inaccuracies, the underlying story is
in many ways more interesting than The Da Vinci Code.
The story begins with the uncovering of an elaborate conspiracy to bring
down the Catholic Church by blowing up the Vatican with an anti-matter (atom)
bomb. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) discovers that the conspirators are a shadowy
organization called The Illuminati - a group of scientists driven
underground by the Catholic Church centuries ago. The explosives have been
hidden somewhere in Vatican City, and Langdon has only a few hours to decode
the Illuminati plot and find the bomb before it detonates.
The film adaptation focuses principally on just this outline, and what
results is a thrilling treasure hunt, the central idea being simply the
location of a time-bomb. However, in the novel Dan Brown has the time to work
through several other major themes which are present but significantly muted in
the film. There is a big clue to one of them in the title.
- The complex nature of good and evil, specifically: how
supposedly good institutions and people can sometimes be evil, and how
ordinary people can be exceptionally courageous and good. (But the book is
not always complex, it includes some cartoon-like evil characters too.)
- The difficulties that come from living in a world where
scientific institutions and religious institutions claim authority over
the same turf.
- The nature of religious claims and religious belief in
a world described by science. This is largely missing from the film, but
in the book Dan Brown seems to suggest that religions need to offer their
adherents access to miracles and the supernatural if they are to compete
with the natural 'miracles' of science. But by the end of the book, it is
a skeptic Cardinal Mortati who proves to be the voice of reason. He joins
our heroine (Vittoria) in seeking a seamless integration of spirituality
into a world described by science.
It is unfortunate these secondary themes are less prominent in the film, for more see Plot Twists and Secrets in the Film
and Book and Science and Religion
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| Contributed by: Adrian Wyard