Angels and Demons, the latest Dan Brown thriller to be turned into a film, includes key episodes that take place in the Vatican and Rome’s churches. Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, said that Brown had “turned the gospels upside down to poison the faith”.
The novel introduces the Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon as he tries to stop what seems to be the Illuminati, a legendary secret society, from destroying the Vatican City with the newly-discovered power of antimatter.
Like the Da Vinci Code, the book opens with a murder when CERN director Maximilian Kohler discovers one of the facility's most respected physicists, Leonardo Vetra, murdered in his own secured, private quarters at the facility -his chest is branded with a symbol — the word "Illuminati", formed as an ambigram, using a hot iron and his eye torn out. Instead of calling the police, Kohler researches the topic on the Internet and finally gains contact with Professor Langdon, an expert on the Illuminati.
It's later revealed that the Illuminati has also stolen a canister containing a quarter of a gram of antimatter — an extremely deadly substance with destructive potential comparable to the most powerful nuclear weapons in existence, a potential unleashed upon contact with any form of normal matter
“It would be unacceptable to transform churches into film sets so that his blasphemous novels can be made into films in the name of business,” he said, adding that Brown’s work “wounds common religious feelings”.
Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rome, said: “Normally we read the script but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough.”
The Vatican fiercely condemned The Da Vinci Code novel and its film version, which starred Tom Hanks as the Harvard professor Robert Langdon. Hanks is also starring in Angels and Demons, which like The Da Vinci Code, is directed by Ron Howard.
Crucial scenes are set in the Vatican and two Rome churches — Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria. In both churches, cardinals are murdered and mutilated with mysterious marks and symbols. Father Antonio Truda, parish priest at Santa Maria del Popolo, said that there was no question of allowing scenes to be shot there. “It’s bad enough having to put up with tour guides explaining the scene to tourists,” he said.
The production team is set to recreate on a set in Hollywood the interiors of the Rome churches from which they are banned. Vatican officials said they had been unable to prevent the film-makers from shooting exterior shots of St Peter’s and the surrounding medieval streets of the Borgo, with the permission of the borough council.
However, the film-makers are having to use the marble halls and staircases of the former royal palace at Caserta, near Naples, to double for Vatican interiors.
Posted by Jason McManus.