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Religious row fuels global Da Vinci Code popularity

The explosive religious row over the origins of Christianity promises to make the film a major blockbuster.

india Updated: May 16, 2006 14:01 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

An explosive religious row over the origins of Christianity has turned

The Da Vinci Code

into a global phenomenon that promises to make the film version of the cult novel a major blockbuster.

As Christian churches launch theological attacks on the movie that will premiere Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, Dan Brown's best-selling novel is still flying off shelves and generating furious debate across the world as its opponents brand it blasphemous and even "satanic."

The depth of passion from the United States to Spain, India and the Philippines over whether Ron Howard's long-awaited film is fiction or based on obscure fact is drawing comparisons with Mel Gibson's highly disputed and ultimately mega-successful 2004 biblical drama The Passion of the Christ.

"Religion is now and has for centuries been one of the major areas of human interest and inquiry," said Robert Thompson, a media professor in New York.

 Even as posters for the Da Vinci Code film proclaim 'The silence will be broken!', protests continue in many countries of the world

"Popular culture has now identified this subject matter not as something to shy away from, but as something with which it can capture an enormous audience," he told AFP, as giant posters for the movies posted across the world proclaimed "The silence will be broken."

While the Catholic Church rarely comments on films and books it finds objectionable, it -- along with a quiver of other churches in the United States and abroad -- some of its priests and organisations have declared open war on The Da Vinci Code amid fears that its plot could damage the Church's image, moving to debunk its assertions.

The book, which has sold nearly 50 million copies, tells of an alleged conspiracy by the Catholic Church to hide for centuries the fact that Jesus Christ was a prophet, and not a god, who ultimately married Mary Magdalene.

First Published: May 15, 2006 12:02 IST