Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 8 | Words: 2157
Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Angels and Demons, written by Dan Brown, is a bestselling mystery-thriller, which uses the idea of a historical conflict between science and religion, in this case it is revealed in conflict between Roman Catholic Church and Illuminati. The plot follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who tries to stop the Illuminati from destroying Vatican City with the brand new power of antimatter.

Robert Langdon, is called to the scene of a murder to help investigators. From the very beginning we are interested why a religious symbolist is of any use in this murder case? Langdon studies ancient and historic religions by investigating symbols they use. He is not excited about murder investigation, until he hears a couple details about Illuminati. He gets on his way and the novel explodes into breathtaking adventure. The murder itself has taken place at a super secret research facility, where the victim and his daughter have been working on a very secret project of making anti-matter, which can be transformed into a bomb of a sort never before imagined. Leonardo Vetra was not only murdered, he had symbol of Illuminati burnt on his chest. As the story continues we are involved in the world of intrigue, murder, secrets, betrayals and somewhat mystical atmosphere. The main plot takes us to the Rome, where the new Pope is about to be elected, since the old one has recently died. At this point Illuminati are going to stop the elections and destroy Vatican City, the base of Catholicism. The whole story is really fascinating, you are never bored while reading and I have to say that I do like this novel better than The Da Vinci Code. The movie is brilliant as well, starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor.

Brown uses in his novel historical story of the Illuminati. As the story tells it was a secret organization founded by Galileo, Copernicus, Bernini and other scientists. Here actually we see more clearly how Brown involves conflict of religion and science.

The Illuminati form this secret society so that on the surface they can do what Galileo did, denounce his scientific theory in order to save his life, but at this secret level they can continue their scientific world and at the same time quietly and secretly battle the power of religion to interfere with science. It appears that this group has never really faded away, and now when they have anti-matter, they are going to act. Interested in the origins of Illuminati I did look for the explanations on the web and what I found does not really differ from what Brown tells us. Wikipedia gives us almost the same story about the secret group which was founded in 1776 and it is believed that Illuminati still exist and they are the masterminds behind events who will lead to the establishment of new world order. However, all this assumptions are not documented and its optional whether to believe all this or not.

The major theme is religion versus science and main question is the existence of God and the origins of the cosmos. In the novel there is a conflict between religious folks, who follow the scripture and believe that God created cosmos, and the scientists who tend not to believe in the creating spirit, and who look for the explanation of the universe origins. In the novel it is mentioned that invention of Vittoria Vetra and her father might be close to the solution to this old question, and satisfy both the religious and the scientific community. It might explain the Illuminati’s involvement, as they opposed to religion and would not want this compromise to be fulfilled. Angels serve God’s good purposes. Demons are fallen angels who serve satan’s evil purposes. The illuminati is real and came out of the Vatican originally. It continues as a secret society that seeks to influence the world through the manipulation of our money system. They are the masters who are influencing the masses to become God-less and ready for a new age of so-called enlightenment.

At the beginning of the novel Robert Langdon was arrogantly confident with his knowledge pertaining to religion. When he met Vittoria and Maxamillion he was less prominent in comparison to their deep scientific knowledge and discoveries. Vittoria and Robert’s friendship is very important as it changes Robert’s view on religion. Even though coming from contradictory backgrounds, they managed to unite. Vittoria Vetra was raised by Leonardo Vetra who was a priest and a scientist. She grew up studying physics, and was very successful within the scientific world. She and her father created things that have never been seen in the world before. The main discovery was anti-matter.

I can’t but mention that this whole story about anti-matter is similar to the Large Hadron Collider which was invented in Switzerland and was supposed to be a breakthrough in science and explain the origins of cosmos. The operation was held in 2008, but unfortunately 10 billion hunt for “God particle” failed. Nevertheless, as we see Brown’s story has basically real background, mankind is on the verge of investigations, which may break religious theory as to the creation.

Throughout the novel there is a running theme of the possible compatibility of scientific and theological understandings of the origins of everything. Both the film and the book version of Angels and Demons tell us that religion has always persecuted science and tried to slow down the relentless march of science, sometimes with misguided means including torture and murder. Brown’s books are not anti-religion or anti-faith, but anti-dogma and anti-institutional. “Science has now provided answers to almost every question man can ask . There are only a few questions left, and they are the esoteric ones. Where do we come from? What are we doing here? What is the meaning of life and the universe? And these are the questions CERN is trying to answer? Correction. These are the questions we are answering.” (Dan Brown, 2000).

However, Brown does display certain appreciation and respect for faith, at least the pure feeling or experience of God, not faith as prescribed by organized religion. We can clearly see this in Vittoria’s conversation with Langdon : ” I did not ask you if you believe what man says about God. I asked you if you believe in God. There is a difference. Holy scripture is stories”¦ When you lie out under the stars do you feel the divine? Do you feel in your gut that you are staring up at the work of God’s hand?” (Dan Brown, 2000).

Another journey of faith we see in movie Changeling directed by Clint Eastwood. Angelina Jolie plays Christine Collins, a single mother who living in 1920s Los Angeles and working to support herself and her son Walter, as a phone company supervisor. One day her son disappears. At first the police are not that helpful, but as the time wore on, pressed by her persistence and anti-corruption efforts of local Presbyterian pastor, the police finally finds her son. The only problem is that the boy they find is not her son. He plays the role so he can go to Los Angeles and meet Tom Mix. No one believes poor lady, and she takes the boy home, more out of pity and concern for a child, than anything, but she continues to press her case.

Basically, movie is focused on the police corruption, but another theme is the way women were treated and understood at that time. Christine was a strong, straightforward woman. She was supervisor for operators and was even under consideration for a management position, but she faces reality where she is helpless against the powerful corrupted police structure. When she pushes the police captain, he derides her for wanting to shirk her responsibilities. Their experts, he tells her, know better than she as to the identity of her child. The fact that the child is 3 inches shorter than Walter and is circumcised, makes no difference. When she joins forces with the crusading pastor, they pull her off the streets and throw her into a mental institution — along with a number of other women who had also stood up to the police. “At the time, it was very easy for the police to throw anyone they didn’t like into the asylum for causing problems, ” Straczynski, screenwriter of the movie says. “They did it more with women than men. The reality is if Christine had been a single dad, this would have never happened.” During much of the movie, there was a focus on the way women were supposed to act and how they were supposed to go about life. It was a big deal when Christine Collin’s stood up for herself and took the LAPD to court in the end of the movie, because women were not supposed to act like that. Women were not supposed to interfere with the law. Because the police hold power in the legal system, Christine Collins had to obey them. All of these women in the movie are required by law to obey the police. I consider it to be a great example of authority taking their job too far and using their authority for the wrong reasons. Even though the women knew they were being treated wrongly, especially Christine Collins, the power within this type of authority kept her and other women from being able to act. This movie was a great example of how when power is used in the wrong way, it can have evil affects on society.

As the movie wanders to its conclusion, the story gets another twist- we discover a serial killer, and the question is was Walter a victim? We cant find the answer to this question even at the end of the movie, because there is no proof whether he was killed or he managed to escaped. Christine never looses her hope and continues her search no matter what. She takes legal action against the system and as a result all women held under designation code 12 in mental institutions are released. She battles long and hard until her voice is heard. It is with her long fight that many of the corrupt men in the legal system that persecuted her are brought to justice and also striped of their jobs. Here appears the question: is it worse to be a sick and twisted killer of children, or to be a figure of authority that refuses to hear the cries of the poor, the widow and the orphan?

One of the most notorious crimes of Jazz Age Los Angeles began quietly enough with a lost boy. In the middle of it all was Christine Collins, Walter’s mother, a victim turned unlikely heroine. Changeling is Eastwood’s second film – after Mystic River – that deals with a child’s disappearance and the torment it leaves behind.

“Crimes against children are the most hideous of all. I think they would be on the top of my list of justification for capital punishment. You don’t even have to be a mother to be affected. I never cease to be amazed how blase people can be about the victims of crime.” says Eastwood. The film depicts 1920s Los Angeles as a city in which the judgment of men takes precedence; women are labeled “hysterical and unreliable” if they dare to question it. Based on the actual incident that shook California’s legal system, Changeling tells the shocking tale of a mother’s quest to find her son, and those who won’t stop until they silence her.

If in the Angels and Demons we see conflict between religion and science, here in Changeling we see how corrupted society can break one’s life and hope. It is a movie worth seeing and contemplating for what it says about corruption, the denigration of women, and even if not fully developed, at least it portrays a preacher in a relatively positive light — as one standing up for justice and truth. I have to say, that in Changeling as well as in the Angels and Demons, religion context is available. In Dan Brown’s book religion theme is dominant as the basic theme is conflict between science and religion. In the Eastwood’s movie religion theme is not the main one, but still”¦ Let us take into account that the only person who helped Christine Collins was Presbyterian pastor Gustav Briegleb. There was no one who could help her, and only thanks to pastor she was able to struggle. Christine Collins was left alone in the violent world of corruption and managed to find justice with the help of Gustav Briegleb, representative of religion world who gave her hope.

To sum up, I have to admit that Dan Brown’s book is worth reading as well as Clint Eastwood’s movie is worth watching. They both would not leave anybody indifferent. Moreover, I do like screen version of Angels and Demons, it is quite as good as book thanks to brilliant acting of Tom Hanks.

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