16 May 2009

Angels and Demons

I have a simple enough question: is it acceptable to watch Angels and Demons? I was fascinated to read Elisabeth Lev’s review of the movie, directed by Ron Howard and based on the book by Dan Brown; More to Rome Than Angels and Demons; a True Story.

In her review Elizabeth compares the plot of Angels and Demons to a film made about denial of the holocaust and the hurt that this would lead to. She, rightly, asserts that no defence based on ‘it’s just fiction’ would work in this instance. Why is it, therefore, justifiable watching Angels and Demons because it’s just a movie and no one has to go and see it?

Only recently I was having a discussion on this very subject. As you may imagine, here in seminary, we are careful to consider what we watch and the impact that this has on our own well being as well as the impact upon the faith of the community at large. There are times when a film, or indeed any form of art, can lead people away from Christ, as there are times when our faith is deepened by what we watch.

Is it ever justifiable to ban a film? Should we be protesting about watching Angels and Demons? It doesn’t portray the Catholic Church in a very good light, it is true. It is, indeed, a work of fiction. If I were preaching this weekend, which I am not, would it be acceptable or even expected that I should direct people one way or the other? Can a priest tell his people not to go to the movies?

I have to confess, that I have, in the past, tended to consider films as just films. Now I am changing. They do impact on our lives and they do influence the way we think. Can I honestly say that I would watch Angels and Demons and not leave the cinema saying, “I wonder…?”

It is not appropriate for me to say you must not watch Angels and Demons; as it is not appropriate that you tell me whether to go or not. You and I must make up our own mind, having fully informed our conscience.

I tell you one thing, though, which Elizabeth Lev is absolutely spot-on with and it is this:

“Angels and Demons” offers an interesting opportunity. While viewers reel at the breathtaking art and majesty of the Eternal City, there is a golden moment for Catholics to tell Rome’s real story, which is more fascinating than any fiction.


  1. I'll offer a totally different reason not to watch "Angels and Demons" - or any other film based on a Dan Brown novel:

    All his stories are utter bilge! And, essentially, they're all the same too. He writes the same book every time (I know, I've wasted about £12 buying the darn things when I was slightly younger and stupider!)

    'The DaVinci Code" was dangerous because its underlying premise has the potential to chip away at the foundations of our faith if we're not sufficiently aware or educated of the truth of them. "A & D" is just simple codswallop rather than attacking the basic tenets of our beliefs.

    Frankly, if anyone's looking for a rip-roaring yarn to watch at the cinema, they'd be far better advised to go and see the new Star Trek film. It's FAR better entertainment!

  2. Well said, Tony, but not sure about the Star Trek; though people do say it's very good. Right now I don't have time to think about the cinema, much less going to see a film!



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