The Real Da Vinci Code (2004)

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Released 2-Jun-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 94:17 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kashaf Chaudhry
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tony Robinson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Ah, here we go again. Another documentary seeking to provide some answers to the mysteries raised in Dan Brown's million selling novel The Da Vinci Code. You might have heard of Brown's mildly successful novel over the last two years. The Da Vinci Code has sold in excess of 20 million copies, been translated into 42 languages and become one of the most widely read novels of all time.

    It is a fast-paced thriller with a climax at the end of every brief chapter. It is a novel filled with symbology, riddles, brain teasers and twists all set in locations that many have visited on their holidays around Europe. It offer ideas that challenge many of the everyday beliefs millions hold close to their heart and as a result has sparked a major controversy within religious circles with many claiming it to be anti-Christian. Chief among its critics is the Catholic church who are not painted in a particularly favourable light in the book. Literature critics have also pulled it to pieces dismissing it as nothing but poorly written airport fiction. But it also has many glowing in their praise claiming it to be "unputdownable". Some are little confused with one newspaper reviewer claiming “It is terribly written, its characters are cardboard cut outs, the dialogue is excruciating in places and, a bit like a computer manual, everything is overstated and repeated — but it is impossible to put the bloody thing down.”

    But for all its controversies and critics, The Da Vinci Code has sold by the truckload around the world and has stayed at the head of the bestseller list in many countries for near on a year and is gaining a new round of fans with the release of a special illustrated edition. In Australia it occupied the top spot for nearly all of 2004 and midway through 2005 it is still in the top 10. The film rights have of course been offloaded for a massive sum, with Ron Howard set to turn the story loose on the big screen in the next year or so and the teaser trailer having been released in the last week.

    It has also started another industry of its own. Punch in "Da Vinci Code" into Google and more than 2.3 million hits will appear. There are websites dedicated to explaining all about Da Vinci, the Priory Of Sion, the Knights Templar, Opus Dei, the golden ratio, and of course the Code itself. There are also a multitude of books written on the subject and a host of documentaries featuring the thoughts of all manner of academics who always seem to claim they knew all about these hidden messages in Da Vinci's work for decades. I had the misfortune earlier this year to review the misleadingly titled Cracking The Da Vinci Code, which was easily the worst documentary I had ever seen and obviously made by someone intent on scoring a quick dollar.

    So it was with some trepidation that I again ventured into the world of The Da Vinci Code and yet another of the many documentaries dedicated to the topic. Thankfully, The Real Da Vinci Code, which is currently showing on the ABC as a two-part series, is well produced, professionally presented and researched, and most importantly of all it is entertaining.

    The documentary is hosted by Tony Robinson (you might remember him as the loveable Baldrick in the comedy series Blackadder) and rather than seek to glorify or add to the mystery of Dan Brown's startling claims, it sets out to uncover the real facts behind many of these supposed truths and debunk many of them for good.

    If Brown's controversial theories are true (and from this documentary you will quickly learn all these startling grail revelations are nothing new), The Da Vinci Code threatens to turn the widely accepted view of history and the Christian Church on its head. Millions of readers have been hooked, but what do historians think of the book? Robinson interviews many who have spent considerable time researching the grail and all its supposed secrets. He seeks to determine if the truth about the Holy Grail has really been suppressed by the Catholic Church and if the grail is being kept safe by a powerful secret society like the Priory of Sion. He also provides compelling evidence about the real nature of this secret society.

    Robinson is determined to cut through the mystery that surrounds the subject, and using The Da Vinci Code as his guide, he is a man on a mission as he travels around France, Italy, England and Scotland. Could it be possible like so many other grail hunters over the centuries that Dan Brown has been duped? Could one of the most intriguing elements of the modern grail obsession be nothing more than an elaborate hoax?

    Watch and you will surely learn something.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This really is a lovely looking video transfer, with clear crisp images and vibrant colour.

    It is presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced.

    All the vision is exquisitely sharp, detailed, clear as crystal and consistently excellent throughout. The close-up interview footage is particularly impressive with warm rich tones and detail throughout. There are no shadow detail problems, no grain, and no low level noise. The colours are also very nicely rendered.

    There are no compression artefacts and video artefacts are also absent. All up, this is one clean image with no problems to report.

    The only real negative is that there are no subtitles available at all on this disc, which is disappointing.

    This is a single layered disc only, so there is no layer change with which to contend.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Quite a reasonable soundtrack graces this disc despite the fact that it is stuck with only a two channel effort.

    The sole audio soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track that performs the task required of it admirably. It's quite clean and solid with a decent low end.

    Dialogue is by way of narration from Tony Robinson and from his many interviewees. There are no audio sync problems.

    There is no surround activity and no subwoofer use.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Sadly there are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I can't find any reference to this title being available in either Region 1 or Region 2. I'm sure that will change soon and I'll update the comparison accordingly.

Summary

    With the runaway success of Dan Brown's mega-selling novel The Da Vinci Code around the world, it's only natural a host of documentaries and other books will be released to try and capitalise on what is an intriguing topic. Thankfully, unlike the last so-called documentary that I had the misfortune to review, The Real Da Vinci Code is a well produced, professionally researched and interestingly presented programme. Tony Robinson is enthusiastic about his topic and provides a clear case for debunking many of the theories presented in the best-seller.

    The video and audio quality are excellent, but sadly there are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, June 03, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Indeed - a crappy book -
Really a UK Doc -
On the other hand ... - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Suggestion for a better (and factual) read -