The Da Vinci Code

Original Soundtrack

Columbia, 2006

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/23/2006

The soundtrack, we'll get to -- but first, a word about the film.

The long-awaited fiim version of Dan Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code has received remarkably lukewarm reviews. It's hard, in reading them, not to sense an undercurrent of disdain. Tom Hanks' hair is too long, the story is too esoteric, the French actress (playing a Frenchwoman -- quel suprise!) doesn't speak in perfect American English. Truth be told, The Code is more challenging than your average summer shoot-'em-up -- it requires that you not just be a passive observer, but actually think while watching.

Still, one of the biggest issues for many of the critics is likely the book from which the movie has been adapted. I'll mount an honest defense here. The first time I started reading my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Da Vinci Code, I found Dan Brown's prose so purple and overwrought that I had to put it down after 10 pages. Brown is about as much a literary craftsman as Tom Clancy is, which is to say, not at all. Both "writers" might more properly be categorized as storytellers, whose books stand or fall on the strength of their intricate, imaginative plots. For all its literary failings, The Da Vinci Code is a superbly plotted tale full of imaginative ideas and puzzles and twists that make for engrossing reading. As for why critics, literary or otherwise, might be frustrated with a second-rate wordsmith scoring the biggest royalty checks of the new century -- well, that's a sentence fragment that *is* a complete thought.

Hans Zimmer's soundtrack is a fitting accomplice to the move version of The Code, mining the appropriate tonal nexus between beauty and bombast, holy and unholy.

The opening track -- "Dies Mercurii I Martius" -- which plays under the titles, alternates artfully between sparse, intricate passages befitting a story about puzzles, and broad, sweeping ones befitting a blockbuster Hollywood movie. (The track titles alternate - as does the movie itself - between Latin, French and English.)

Several tracks feel like church music on steroids - that is, lyrical string movements taken beyond natural limits of tempo and vigor to achieve a fierce intensity ("L'Esprit Des Gabriel"), or soaring, beatific choral arrangements -- often employing Gregorian chants -- that nonetheless ring with menace (in particular, "Salvete Virgines" and "Poisoned Chalice").

"Beneath Alsrica" does an especially effective job of taking the sort of spare string arrangement one might expect to hear between portions of Sunday mass and fuel-injecting it with a steady-building tension that builds into a kind of frenetic grandeur, underscoring the ultimate discoveries made at the movie's climax.

Zimmer's work here reflects its subject matter effectively while granting extra weight and tension to key scenes in the film, as any good score should. Whatever you may think of the film itself, the score succeeds on all counts.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.