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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Angels, Demons, the Illuminati, and Why You Shouldn't Get Your History From Movies

Blurring reality and fantasy helps to sell books and movies, but the art of modern movie pimping takes it to a new level. And the real trouble is when the public gets its history from movies. Thanks to Oliver Stone's excremental movie JFK, the belief that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy is today considered to be the whacked out, drunken crazy talk instead of the other way around. Millions think the deadly bullet had to be a magic one, or that the grassy knoll had teams of sharpshooters all over it. And Clay Shaw is still attempting to figure out how to file a lawsuit from his coffin.

So now comes another new movie attempting to rewrite history. In a way not as egregious as a piece of Stone's dreck, but in other ways, more so. The film based on Dan Brown's novel "Angels & Demons" is threatening to be in theaters this May. Sony pictures has released what is masquerading as a pseudo-docu-featurette about the Illuminati, as a lead up to the release of the picture, and so far, it looks to be another Catholic bashing exercise, like its source material was.

Now, I was in the film business long enough to know that shameless whoredom is a Hollywood way of life, and pumping your pimp hand for your picture to ensure a socko opening weekend is what it's all about. And yes, I know, the only thing worse than standing on a chair and shrieking "Eeek!" over a fictional movie is shrieking "Eeek!" over the fictional novel it's based upon. Nevertheless, in this particular case I have to shout "Tripe!" when tripe is served. And this one dishes up a whole platter of it.

Dan Brown is fond of alleging that the organizations mentioned in his books are real, and then he goes on to not bother with telling a single truthful thing about them. Over the years, it's become patently obvious that Dan Brown was whacked across the hands with a ruler by some stern nun during his formative years, and the real hoary, multi-headed Jabberwocky that terrifies him out of his sound sleep in a soggy sweat every night is the Catholic Church. That's okay. Writing can be therapeutic, but I would think he could take some of his new-found millions and just hire a good Freudian. Or Jungian. Whichever works.

The point is, Dan Brown's vision of the Illuminati has precisely zero to do with the real Bavarian Illuminati. If his book had just been spine out and lobbed into the cut-out bin after three months of lackluster sales, nobody would care. But that's not what happened. Angels & Demons eventually sold by the boatload, and the result is that literally millions of people think this is what the Illuminati were.

The official Angels & Demons website has a scene from the movie of Langdon explaining who and what the Illuminati supposedly were, followed by this text:

"Shrouded in mystery for nearly 500 years, The Illuminati began in the 1600's as a secret society of scientists, artists, architects and doctors whose theories and discoveries put them at odds with the dominant Catholic Church. For fear of persecution, members of the Illuminati, which means "enlightened ones," meet in secret while publicly growing in influence and stature by quietly infiltrating governments and major institutions...
As a warning to others, the Church apprehended four scientists and branded them on the chest with the symbol of the cross to "purge them of their sins" [an event Brown calls "La Purga"] before publicly executing them..."

Utter crap.

Ron Howard and Tom Hanks appear in the very brief "Illuminati Featurette", and here's what they go on to claim:

Ron Howard: "The Illuminati was formed in the 1600s. They were artists and scientists like Galileo and Bernini, whose progressive ideas threatened the Vatican."

Tom Hanks: "The Illuminati, they were pushing knowledge, um, and they had a pretty, pretty august group of people.

Ron Howard: "The early Illuminati were persecuted by the Church. They were hunted down, even executed, and driven underground."

Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon: "There wasn't a powerful organization on Earth they didn't penetrate, including the Vatican, by hiding in plain sight."

It seems that no one who writes about the Illuminati—from Brown, to David Icke's alien reptilian lizards, to Texe Marrs' unintentionally hilarious Codex Magica, to the peddlers of the "Five Illuminati Jew Bankers" myths and the ZOG believers—has the slightest interest in the true organization that did exist, and then really was disbanded.

The real, live, authentic Illuminati was a blip, a literal footnote in history, and I'll be posting about them later this week. But no, Dan Brown's Illuminati has nothing to do with real life.

They didn't start in the 1600s.

Galileo and Bernini weren't members.

There was no "La Purga" in connection with the Illuminati.

Stay tuned.



Blogger Scout32 said...

This sounds like Da Vinci Code Redux. He uses the names of people, places and groups who have a little known history by the populus to exploit the ignorance of the audience.

An example of Brown's style would be to claim that in the 1950s there was a Girl Scout Troup. On an unsupervised overenight, they dressed in teddies and had pillow fights. One of these women grew up to be Marilyn Chambers. None of it is true, but it sure makes for a sexy plot.

Suspending reality, I will probably enjoy the movie, but it will have a truth factor of National Treasure.

March 3, 2009 at 10:20 AM  

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