I don’t know yet whether I’m going to see The Da Vinci Code. While I thought the book was a good read, I heard that the movie is long and dull. If I learn otherwise, I will likely see the flick despite my discomfort with the story’s misuse of myth. (With Ian McKellen in the movie, I am tempted to see it.)
While many Christians are upset with the way it treats the Church and the version of Christian history it provides, I’m bothered by how author Dan Brown perverts the Grail legend. This is not the first movie to play with this sacred story. But, unlike Monty Python, Brown wasn’t trying to be funny. To be sure, like that great flick, his book did entertain. Given that there is something archetypal in the quest for the Holy Grail, Brown was brilliant in creating scavenger hunt as a kind of a quest for the Grail.
Despite Brown’s contention, the grail legend is not inherent to the Christian myth. The grail legend only became a Christian one after the Celtic peoples of the British Isles converted to Christianity. As they adopted their new faith, the Celts kept their myths (and images) alive by relating them to the passion of Christ — or other Christian teachings. Indeed, the Grail itself is derived from an image of Celtic mythology — a vessel of plenty. They incorporated that mythic chalice into Christian stories through Joseph of Arimathea, the rich disciple of Jesus who buried Jesus in his own tomb.
In the original Grail stories, we thus have Joseph taking Jesus’ blood in a chalice and later bringing that chalice to Britian. (Or altenatively taking a cup used in the Last Supper.) Brown rather creates some strange legend that the Grail legend is inherent in the Christian myth, suggesting that the real Grail was a woman!
To be sure, revisioning a myth is not enough to destroy a movie. I thoroughly enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where that screen hero takes a sip from the “actual” Grail which gave some medieval knight extraordinary longetivity (and the ability to speak a version of English not spoken until several hundred years after he had last had contact with his fellow man). And while playing around with an ancient legend doesn’t prevent it from being entertaining, eliminating the fabulous elements altogether can render an engaging myth dreadfully dull.
I guess I’m really just upset that with all the hullabaloo over the The Da Vinci Code‘s treatment of Christianity, nobody is paying any attention to its treatment of the Grail Legend. I guess we Grail aficionados don’t have a strong media presence — or active lobby.
And while Dan Brown’s story invents a fanciful retelling of the Grail legend, I still might see the movie. I mean, Monty Python took some liberties with the legend and still created one of the greatest comedies of all time. But then again, today’s release isn’t a comedy.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
. . . the idea that the Holy Grail is possibly the BLOODLINE of jesus is not a creation of dan brown, and there are just as many theories tracing the grail as cup back to different myth systems as there are tracing it to celtic myth.
In the book “From Scythia to Camelot” [link discovered by GPW following soon-to-be Dr. Froyd’s suggestion], they actually trace the ideas of the grail back to the myth system of the scythians, and refute MUCH of the theories tracing it to the celts.
So read his whole comment for his thoughts on the matter.