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Science friction: Howard, Hanks examine faith vs science conflict

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By Chris Betros

Director Ron Howard says it is not in his nature to seek controversy. But now that he has, first with “The Da Vinci Code” in 2006, and again this year with “Angels & Demons,” he said it has been a good experience for him. Both films, based on books by Dan Brown, deal with the conflict between faith and science and the very foundations of Christianity.

“Before I made ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ people whom I respected very much advised me not to do it. They said it is hard enough making movies without my stirring things up even more,” said Howard, 55, during a visit to Japan last week with stars Tom Hanks and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer. “I knew that we couldn’t please the entire audience but I hoped that everyone would weigh their own convictions, just as I did. It was new for me to take that step as a filmmaker.”

In “Angels & Demons” (which Brown wrote before “The Da Vinci Code”), Hanks reprises his role as symbologist Robert Langdon, who finds himself caught up in a plot to hijack the papacy by the Illuminati, an ancient shadowy brotherhood. Zurer, 39, plays an Italian scientist who must help Langdon crack codes to rescue cardinals targeted for death. Hanks, 52, a two-time Oscar winner, said he was happy to revisit his character. “There is a lot more action this time, but Langdon is not your typical action hero. I think of him as an intellectual Indiana Jones without the whip. All he has is his agnostic expertise. He is persona non grata and at constant loggerheads with the Vatican.”

That also describes the relationship between Howard and the Vatican. As with “The Da Vinci Code,” the Vatican once again refused to allow the crew in because the subject matter didn’t conform to the Catholic church’s views. Howard went even further and said that the Vatican tried to prevent them from filming anywhere in Rome by pressuring the authorities to deny them film permits. As a result, the team had to indulge in guerrilla filmmaking. Members of the production crew, posing as tourists, casually filmed frescoes, floor mosaics and paintings in the Sistine Chapel. “Outside, we didn’t break any laws. When we couldn’t get permission, we had several units out at the same time doing very short takes. It was like an indie film at times,” Howard said.

Thanks to movie magic, audiences will feel they are on the streets of Rome and in St Peter’s Basilica with Hanks and Zurer. “It was a fantastic experience, one which I will take with me to my grave,” Zurer said. “I wasn’t really aware of the controversy. There was just so much going on.”

Hanks said the controversy sometimes tends to overshadow the story, which he thinks is unfortunate. “If a controversy is just salacious, then it is not worth making the movie. It is only worth making if the controversy is an adjunct to the story. These films and the books are all about how some people interpret the events of 2,000 years ago. ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was faith vs history; ‘Angels & Demons’ is about faith vs science. And the thing is, there are no answer to these questions, no physical evidence. There is room for both faith and science in the world.”

Howard concurs. “We should use the intellect that nature or God gave us to continue to question the world around us,” he said. “Whenever dogma -- whether it is from religions or governments -- becomes rigid, we shouldn’t accept it at face value. There are those who use religion to create violence and terror and the best way to oppose that is to use our intellect to challenge it and keep exploring mentally and physically.”

There is already talk of a third film in the series. Brown’s third Langdon adventure, “The Lost Symbol,” is due out in the fall. Howard said that first he wants to take a break, having worked nonstop on “Frost/Nixon” and “Angels & Demons” for the past few years. Hanks left no doubts, though. “I hope I get the chance to play Langdon five times,” he said, “but that is up to Mr Brown and Mr Howard.”

“Angels & Demons” opens in Japan on May 15.

© Japan Today

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16 Comments
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The problem is the the Devil uses the strongest weapon available: deception, through self-reasoning, pleasures, power, narcicism, false philoshophies, false doctrines, and self-righteousness. And no matter how well it is explained, people will not even see the light even if they try.

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ha ha funny Comment Samuraiiki, the only Devil on Earth is called Humanity. Who do atrrocious things by themself without the help of a God or Devil.

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Science friction: Howard, Hanks examine faith vs science conflict

Lucky we are to be living in times where great minds like these two can like, totally solve lotsa age old questions and sh*t, for us, while we munch popcorn in air-conditioned cinemas.

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This movie looks booooooooring, and will probably suck like the Davinci Code film. But at least they gave Hanks a normal hairstyle for this one.

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The problem is the the Devil uses the strongest weapon available: deception, through self-reasoning, pleasures, power, narcicism, false philoshophies, false doctrines, and self-righteousness. And no matter how well it is explained, people will not even see the light even if they try.

"Self reasoning"? What's that? And the rest of the laundry list hardly requires the Devil, as LePlace so incisively pointed out:

"Laplace went in state to Napoleon to accept a copy of his work...Someone had told Napoleon that the book contained no mention of the name of God; Napoleon, who was fond of putting embarrassing questions, received it with the remark, 'M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.' Laplace, who, though the most supple of politicians, was as stiff as a martyr on every point of his philosophy, drew himself up and answered bluntly, 'Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.' ['I had no need of that hypothesis.']

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what friction? One is a rational view of the universe based on observable and deductible knowledge. Hypotheses testing and appropriate review. The other is something to do with sky-fairies and invisible unicorns (or an equivalent of equal complexity).

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Faith vs. Science. There will always be debate regarding which is "true" and which is "false". This movie debuting or not will not change this.

Unfortunately we don't find out which one is correct until after we die. Though I'm not devout and lean heavily on the side of "science", I figure I'll use the 10 Commandments as a guide just in case I was backing the wrong horse. Worst case scenario, science is 100% correct and I won't care after I'm dead. Best case scenario, religion is correct and I have more "work" to do after I die.

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LOOK, science has no place in Religion - the World is FLAT - my pastor said so and he's a man of god. We do not need medicine, if you have real faith, you will not die. If you die, then I guess you didn't have real faith. Then again, everything is Relative, right? So Hitler was no mad man, in his eyes, he was the savior of Germany....It's all relative, right?

ok, ok, I'm being an idiot - Love both books (yes I read) and enjoyed the movie - looking forward to the next one.

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So it's science and history over faith. Let's start by writing a book full of historical errors and sensationalizes everything from Jesus to the Opus Dei, both of whom actually are "BORING" if you disregard Brown. It's not about science or history or religion. This is just Brown and Hollywood trying to make a buck and liberals trying to push their agenda. Christianity is just an easy target because it is now a passive religion. That is why no Brown book nor a Howard movie about a certain Prophet of a certain MidEast religion is forthcoming anytime soon.

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Yeah sure a conflict between faith and science. They might as well be going 50/50 with the Vatican while pretending to hate each other. Both will enjoy the publicity.

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There is no controversy in this movie or the davinci code. It's all marketing. There was a world wide push for the davinci code, and there is a world wide marketing push for this movie. For proof of that, this is one of the three or four movies a year that opens in japan at the same time as the rest of the world, and not six months after. Japanese people know nothing about catholicism, so the only reason for this is because of studio marketing.

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Members of the production crew, posing as tourists, casually filmed frescoes, floor mosaics and paintings in the Sistine Chapel.

Err, leaving the whole Science vs Religion debate aside for a moment, isn't clandestine filming of the Sistine Chapel - private property, the owner of which specifically forbids filming or photography without permission - and then using that footage for monetary gain breaking some sort of law?? At the very least it is morally questionable.

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It's a story, a good one, but just a story nonetheless.

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I like Dan brown's stories, I like Tom Hanks, so I can't wait to see this film

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I agree agree with Papasmurf.

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It is merely entertainment, don't take it too seriously.

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