Dan Brown (from the same novel)
Columbia Pictures, Imagine Entertainment
Sony Pictures Italia
Manlio De Angelis
Sefit - CDC
Robert Langdon, a symbology professor at Harvard University, is accused of the murder of Jacques Saunière, curator of the Louvre. Sophie Neveu, Saunière’s granddaughter, will help him clear his name and find the truth. The two face a dangerous journey through Europe and history in the discovery of a secret hidden for centuries by the Catholic Church. They discover that the Holy Grail is Mary Magdelene, Jesus’ bride, who’s womb (the Grail chalice) received the sang real (royal blood) and that Sophie’s family is linked to this mystery.
Taken from the novel by Dan Brown, the film has had a huge effect, so much so that in Italy, in it’s first day of screening it earned the record sum of two million euro. This always happens when a film or a book talks about a universal theme such as religion, and above all, puts the dogma into discussion. Without entering into too much detail, it’s impossible to deny that the argument is interesting for anyone or at least for those who don’t automatically take everything they hear as being the truth. The direction is very good, however the film is not as thrilling as the book, probably due to the difficulty of putting into 120 minutes more than 500 pages of data, theories and explanations. The narration lacks an important point, the one which should be the revelation to Sophie of the true nature of the Grail, but the scene isn’t emphasized enough. A pity about some changes and some cuts with respect to the book, like the suffered discovery of the mystery regarding Pope in the King’s College library transformed into a more modern research with a mobile phone on a bus; or the final scene, much more touching in the book; or the newly born love story between Robert and Sophie, totally cut in the film.
The Italian edition isn’t one of the best, at least as far as the dubbing direction is concerned. The dialogues are better.
Manlio De Angelis, to whom the dubbing direction has been entrusted, has made some discussable choices, some of which have compromised the quality of the film. First of all the decision to lavish too many French accents amongst the characters. Jacques Saunière, the curator of the Louvre, is a man of high culture and his English is perfect, underlined in the book, and yet he talks with a marked French accent. A man like him, who, moreover, has a wife living in the United Kingdom, would have almost surely a near-perfect accent. Same thing for his granddaughter, Sophie Neveu, who has moreover studied at Royal Halloway. She speaks English very well, so much so that in the novel, during the first meeting with Sir Leigh Teabing, a Londoner, he admits that “Il suo inglese è superbo” (your English is superb). Even more wrong, therefore, is the French accent which torments the spectator during the entire vision of the film. Another mistake is the fact that the Zurich bank of deposits clerk speaks in French. In the book it’s explained in fact that in the bank a new form of greeting has been introduced, that is “Bonsoir. Come posso aiutarvi?” (Bonsoir. How can I help you?”) to underline the opening of the bank towards the public. In this way, in fact, the client can decide to answer in the language he prefers. It’s correct, on the other hand, to leave this accent to Bezu Fache, captain of the French judicial police and the other policemen. Even better for Capt. Fache in that the French accent underlines his narrow mindedness. A correct choice is leaving the accent of the French students, present at Langdon’s conference.
Another decidedly less than successful choice is making Silas and the bishop Manuel Aringarosa speak in Latin. The two are deeply religious and considering their spasmodic adherence to the Bible its also plausible that between them they use Latin. But, seeing as the scenes in which they are the stars are many and full of dialogue, why bore the spectator with a lot of subtitles? It was unnecessary: the fundamentality of the two characters is clear. Nevertheless, this wrong choice is to be taken lightly due to the fact that probably also in the original film the two men speak Latin.
Finally, why, give a Swiss accent to André Vernet, Chairman of the Depositary Bank of Zurich? The man is Chairman of the Parisian branch of the Swiss bank, he’s Parisian, so much so his surname betrays a French origin, so why make him speak with a Swiss accent? In Dan Brown’s book, the man says he wants to spend his retirement with French wines and in the search of rare editions in the Latin quarter, the author accurately describes the finesse and the culture and the German accent undermines this image.
As far as the voices are concerned they have been chosen rather well, except Sophie’s voice which is too deep. It’s correct that she has a mature voice, but a little more sweetness would not have been amiss. The choice of Roberto Pedicini for Silas is an excellent one. His superb reciting emphasizes the psychological weakness of the character in contraposition to his physical strength. A little less well chosen is the voice of Rémy, Leigh Teabing’s butler, which seems a bit artificial.
The dialogues, on the contrary to the dubbing direction, have nearly all been well laid out. Some lines, however, stand out a little. First, above all, the line in which Rémy warns Teabing that Langdon and Sophie are being searched by the police. Leigh asks “Posso fare qualcosa?” (Can I do something?) and Rémy answers “Sì, sono al telegiornale adesso”, (Yes they’re on the news now) referring to the two wanted persons but the implied subject makes the line easily misunderstood. Later when the group is attacked by Silas, Teabing says to tie him up “sopra le giunture”, (above the joints) a rarely used word for the human body for which “articolazione” (articulation) is generally preferred. Furthermore the face of the actor is not framed meaning that the choice is not justified by the lip movement.
Concluding, the film isn’t bad even though it could have been done better; it’s worth seeing especially for the themes it raises and to see a different Tom Hanks to what we’re used to seeing. For the Italian edition Elettra Caporello’s work is well done, the same cannot be said for Manlio De Angelis who has made some decisions, often wrong. It seems almost as though the dubbing director didn’t read the novel before dubbing the film.
[original review in Italian by Alessandra Basile]