History...or hokum? Take a look at the facts on which Dan Brown built his blockbuster novel
THE REAL DA VINCI CODE
You've read the novel. Now learn the real story. With intellectual rigor and a hint of impish humor noted British actor and commentator Tony Robinson follows the trail laid down by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code and undertakes his own quest for the Holy Grail.
Interviewing such respected experts as Biblical scholar Elaine Pagels, Robinson crisscrosses Europe and the Holy Land, from Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, in hot pursuit of historical truth. He also sits down with Michael Baigent, who co-authored Holy Blood, Holy Grail the controversial book from which Brown drew the theories underpinning his novel.
Did a sect of medieval warrior-monks uncover a shocking secret about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the Holy Grail? Did Leonardo Da Vinci plant clues to the long-suppressed truth in his paintings? Do shadowy societies protect the Grail, even today? The Real Da Vinci Code is an informative, entertaining investigation that authoritatively separates imaginative fiction from historical fact.
The Real Da Vinci Code
ought to be the last word among plentiful video debates over the validity of startling claims in Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code
. Produced by Britain's Channel Four Television and broadcast on the Discovery Channel in the U.S., the irreverent but no-nonsense documentary systematically dismantles so-called historical facts Brown embraced (not only in his story, but in interviews) to support the idea that the Holy Grail is actually the blood lineage of Jesus, carried by descendants of his child by Mary Magdalene. Hosted by Tony Robinson (Blackadder
's Baldrick), The Real Da Vinci Code
hopscotches through France, Scotland, Israel, Italy, Spain, and America to investigate evidence that the major historical players in Brown's alternative Grail legend--the heretical Cathars, the wealthy but persecuted Knights Templar, the secretive Priory of Sion--did the things Brown (and his research sources) said they did. Turns out these stories come up wanting, as does the basis for the 1982 Holy Blood, Holy Grail
, which provided much of the foundation of Brown's book. Nothing is quite as remarkable as fairly damning proof of at least one major, late 20th-century hoax, associated with Grail quests, that has since been popularly accepted as fact. Same with assertions that Leonardo Da Vinci was one of many important people who kept records of Christ's progeny. The one ray of hope for Grail conspiracy theorists is the Magdalene cult woven through the pages of the Gnostic gospels, written by early Christians, and Robinson's split decision over whether that's Mary or St. John at Christ's right in Leonardo's The Last Supper
. Even if one doesn't care about the subject, the flashes of wit (a bobblehead Jesus on Robinson's dashboard, comic-book images of Christ's supposed romance with Magdalene) are a hoot. --Tom Keogh