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Munamania #4 Langdon's Book

 
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Munan
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 5:18 am    Post subject: Munamania #4 Langdon's Book Reply with quote

Langdon's Book

After watching The Da Vinci Code, I realised I suffer from job deformation. I didn't notice the bad acting, or other things the critics have been complaining about. I did notice, however, that Robert Langdon is a lousy teacher. Take the title of his lecture, for instance. "The language of symbols". What, the entire language of all the symbols? In one lecture? I teach philosophy of art. Imagine me giving a lecture titled "The philosophy of art". Sure, from Plato to the postmodern in 45 minutes.

I was actually asked to give such a lecture once, but the college that invited me clearly didn't have a clue. They even asked me to mention The Da Vinci Code, to make it more exciting. One can hardly imagine the reputable university that invited Langdon, or the 'famous Harvard professor in symbolism' himself, to be so clueless. There have, however, probably been a lot of people in recent years asking universities whether it is possible to study symbolism. Such studies do not exist, so they will have to study art history. In their second or third year, they will get a course in iconography, the closest they will get to something like symbolism a dull course, a far cry from Langdon and his exciting adventures.

Back to Langdon's teaching skills. The title of his lecture is bad enough and quite dull I giggled when I read it but Langdon then makes a series of meaningless remarks about "the power of symbols". Clearly more interested in the effects of these symbols, rather than in explaining how they function, he shows his audience an impressive but distracting powerpoint presentation with swastikas, satanic symbols turning out to be something different and Buddha statues. The point of it all? There does not seem to be any.

Oh well, Langdon was probably not invited for his teaching skills. He is, after all, the author of a bestseller. In the film, people actually line up to get a copy of this book signed! (The idea that people would line up for the book of an art professor is as attractive to me as it is ridiculous.) This book is called Traces of the Sacred Feminine and Dan Brown's audience will be pleased to know that it actually exists. Its title? Heaven's Tales and Stellar Myths. unfortunately, it is written in Swedish, by a certain Lone Mogensson, but it contains all the things Langdon refers to throughout the film and much more including a radical feminist reading of Viking mythology! May I propose translating it into English and retitling it Traces of the Sacred Feminine the Book Robert Langdon Could Have Written, if possible using the cover shown in the film? I am convinced it will be a huge bestseller, although I am not sure it will actually be read when I was leaving the cinema I heard some people ask each other whether they read the book. "Well, I started," was the answer. "but there were a lot of difficult words. And it had too many pages anyway".
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Aramor



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, using bullshit in movies to make it look cool... I love that. Well actually not...

Like the big red "access denied" screen. Or when your entire hard-drive is being deleted and you see all these pictures of technical stuff flashing by.

Or for an example from a recent movie, namely "Stay Alive". It's about a group of kids who play a game and they end up being killed just like in the game. Anyhoo, to start the game they have to recite a poem. So one guy says "Holy shit! Voice activated? That doesn't even exist, that's totally next gen!!!". Uhm, SOCOM for the PS2 anyone... just to mention one of them. Or the Dreamcast (I think) game where you have a pet fish who you can order around or something.

I seriously hate stuff like that...

Edit: oh, but my personal favourite is from Daredevil... a print screen button and a delete button right next to each other. And if you press the delete button, your entire document will be erased as if someone would hold the backspace key...

Can you imagine that at school?
Teacher: Where is your homework?
Student: I wanted to print it, but then I accidentally pressed the delete button and all 50 pages were deleted!!!
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Simon_Says



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They didn't have any 'undo' function in that film?

On the whole, movies could be far more interesting, valuable, and entertaining overall if movie producers could actually try to make thier stories plausible. Plausible as in 'you could actually expect that sort of thing to happen in the given circumstances.'

For example, take the movie 'Hackers.' It could have been far more interesting if it didn't paint the hacker community as a bunch of cyber-punks with gizmo lights on thier crappy laptops, out to play funky with traffic lights and alter T.V. show schedules to thier liking. If the hackers were portrayed as they really are, more or less normal people who lead more or less normal lives. Thier viruses are invisible, and don't animate vitruvian man singing "Row row row your boat."

The current virus/worm/torjan epidemic could be greatly alleviated if hackers and such weren't portrayed as jokes like they are on film, but as the very real and transparent danger they are.

So aside from potentially making alot more money and garnering more positive reviews, producers could actually be helping society by presenting them the realities of the real world. You don't need a gung-ho universe to make good escapist entertainment. Of course, if it's comedy (especially absurdist), I don't think anything said in the post would apply.
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Robot Chicken Koko



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the buildings at my college looks like the upside down pyramid that marks the spot where Mary Magdalene supposedly rests in peace. I noticed it yesterday on the way to Computer Science. Other than that I only have this to say: I don't plan on seeing the movie The DaVinci Code, because anytime a book (that's good) is put on the big screen it's usually nothing compared to the actual book (CHRONICLES OF NARNIA!!!!). I think the only exception to that rule is Harry Potter where the movies are at least decent but Narnia was an absolute disgrace to the book it was based (loosely) on.
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cfos



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The movie I have a problem with: The Matrix.

My problem? How is it that Cypher was able to get into the Matrix, have lunch with an agent and not get noticed by anyone? I mean, the people in the ship follow everyone around -- like in the opening scene where Neo almost escapes. Those in the Matrix need assistance jackin' in and out of the matrix,... so someone must have been there when Cypher was having lunch...?

Anyway, I also have a problem with all CSI shows. Being in a research oriented career, I speak from experience when I say that we don't sit at the bench explaining everything that we do, while we do it. I can't stand watching CSI and seeing the people pipette stuff explaining what they do to people who should already know what they do.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And that's apart from the fact that CSI gives a hugely distorted representation of reality. My father is a forensic and it really doesn't go like that. Not that fast, at least. And corpses generally look more ugly than they do in that series.

However, I would be misunderstood if people think I'm pleading for films to be more true to reality. If anything, I would prefer films to be more blatantly removed from reality, i.e. more surreal. But I do think that if you're going to do a film about something, you should do some research on the subject, which wouldn't have been difficult if you have the budget they had for the Da Vinci Code. Just ask an Arts Professor what a lecture like this would be like.

Actors and directors are often very lazy, especially when they're making blockbusters.

And yes, continuity problems like the one cfos mentions are really the worst thing you can do to your viewers. It's like disrespecting them.
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cfos



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"However, I would be misunderstood if people think I'm pleading for films to be more true to reality. If anything, I would prefer films to be more blatantly removed from reality, i.e. more surreal."

Well... depending on what the film was about. My comment regarding the Matrix assumes that you believe in the Matrix. I think the issue is being consistent with the genre and doing a little research to make the "story" consistent. OK -- I just realized you said that at the bottom of your post. Sorry for the "double".

Not to change the topic, but two recent movies that I really loved (Thank you for smoking; Little Miss Sunshine) didn't need any surreal qualities to be quality movies. As for the laziness... I dunno if it is that. I can't claim to know film industry, but I think that these people have to feud with the producers and the money backers and to research minor points may drain funding. Something tells me that most directors, when dealing with the unfamiliar, jump on the stereotype background, especially for developing the character. Looking at any pilot, first few episodes or the start of any film, you have character development. Prime example: Star Trek: The Next Generation. What was learned from the first few episodes? Picard doesn't like (is uncomfortable around) kids and is the authority. Data wants to be "human". Riker is the Kirk construct, Worf is a Kilingon and growls. DaVinci: Langdon knows history and is respected in the field enough so, to be invited and have people want his autograph.

I think you can take just about any show, movie, etc. and know what you are going to see in the first 10 minutes. My guess, is Ron Howard doesn't know any History profs, and gave people what he thought people would want based on the script which, in turn, was based on the book. Not knowing Dan Brown personally, my guess is that he does know history professionals. But he wanted to make the book accessable to wide audiences, hence his stereotypical character gave a stereotypical seminar which established his "credentials" and provided a rationale for how this character would know and decipher things. Dumbing down, perhaps, leads to wider readings, more book sales, etc. Keeping it simple. I think those 3 words built the career of Adam Sandler.
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