OPUS DEI SAFE HOUSE
The highly motivated and cool-blooded assassins/chasers from the Dan Brown books have been put into a role of great importance with the very first movie adaptation. In the course of the opening sequence, Paul Bettany’s character, dressed in a hooded cloak of a monk, chases the director of the Louvre. Subsequent to these opening scenes and a brief encounter with Robert Langdon, the ‘Da Vinci Code’ confides the story with another glimpse of a semi-mistified albino. The top flight of the camera cuts out (from the shadows of sleeping Paris) an open balcony. Dan Brown’s book granted Sailas with a shelter in a luxurious mansion of red brick at ‘Rue la Bruyere’ street, once he crept in the upper floor and his keeil, which looked like the NY head office of the Opus Dei. The movie adaptation of Ron Howard dislocated the place to an iconic Montmartre district to the North of the bookish version. The indeed residential house within a cozy crossroad of two streets appeared to replace the villa. Rue Becquerel was once named after the appraised French physician, a grandfather of the very Becquerel, who invented the radioactivity measurement. Rue de la Bonne of less than 100 meters in length, is in some way famous for its low panorama over Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. The shot of the balcony seizes the moment to depict this iconic Parisian sight. With respect to the fact that the exterior scene was shot far from Montmartre, the movie depicts Sailas, who excruciates himself in a religious castigation.
As far back in movie history as summer 2005 and the height of the shootings of ‘Da Vinci Code’, Henri Loyrette, the director of the Louvre of that days provided a harsh commentary on the fact, that the appraised museum is not a cinematic ground. Along with that, the administration granted Ron Howard with permission to shoot a number of scenes within the Louvre. Each day of the work was put into an expression with 30 000 euros in Louvre’s money box. The principal filming was limited to night time on Tuesdays and included, in particular, the opening sequence with Sailas and Jacques Saunière. The haunted director of the museum cuts across the ‘salles rouges’ (red rooms), yet the next scene (at the body) with Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, and Jean Reno was recreated within the pavilions of the ‘Pinewood Studios’ near London. The 73-year-old Jean-Pierre Marielle was freed from the perspective of lying for hours stark naked as the body was no more than a silicone doll.
Another symbol of the Louvre (apart from its halls and paintings), of its modern history, accompanies the arrival of professor Langdon. His car moves in ‘Place du Carrousel’, an open space square next to the inner court of Louvre. The background of the night Paris includes one of the famous arcs of triumph, once built up on behalf of emperor Napoleon. A few moments after, the frame of Robert Langdon loses on the monumental Piramide, ‘A scar on the face of Paris’ as it would be regarded by Bezu Fache a few moments later. Dan Brown resounded the well-known fallacy that the structure was made of 666 glass elements, the misbelief goes as far back as the 1980s and originated from the opponents of the innovation. The actual number of glass-steel elements amounted to 673 figures. The story would later base its epilogue with Robert Langdon at this initial point, giving 7 million of the annual visitors fictional grounds to fantasize about the sacred meaning and the secret chamber under the Piramide.
‘Pavillon de la trémoille’, a passage between the Western and Eastern wings of Louvre, has become another iconic Louvre’s landmark to be depicted in a movie. As the story goes on, Sophie gets Robert together at the museum toilet to fulfill an escape plan with the means of soup and a tap. We can have a glimpse of the main characters within a location, that had been, in fact, recreated at the studio set. Along with that, the exterior of the passage was authentic and the ‘Pavillon de la trémoille’ indeed faces ‘Pont du Carrousel’ bridge.
THE AMERICAN EMBASSY
Sophie and Robert race alongside the streets of night Paris while debating on the nature of true and false in a myth of ‘Priory of Sion’ as well as the meaning of ‘Fleur-de-lis’. The car turns left at the crossroad next to 25 Rue Daguerre, in fact, at a distance from the Louvre as well as from the US embassy, on the opposite bank of the river Seine. A few moments after, Sophie is all but smashing the police barrier at the entrance to a four-story building at 2 Avenue Gabriel. Even a brief look at the map of Paris would be enough to catch the fact, then a little more than one kilometer disengages Louvre from the destination point. As Dan Brown has written, three acres of soil are in ownership of the United States and Robert Langdon had all the chances to be treated well once he could get inside. It worth knowing that the American diplomatic mission to France dated as far back as the XVIII century and was to become the first of its kind for a new-born country. In 1778 Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the American nationhood was appointed as an ambassador to France. It must be said, that the complex of a building at Avenue Gabriel is an invention of more modern times than the age of Franklin. The current diplomatic quarter was erected and rebuild as early as 1931.
It’s worth mentioning that apart from Louvre with 7 million annual visitors (6.7 million in 2004, to be exact), another location from both the book and the movie had not much to boast among the French as well as the tourists. Église Saint-Sulpice. Against the status of one of the largest churches in France, it had been regarded as one of the least attainable in Paris, since the French do not praise it as something beautiful. The historical prejudice went so far that the style of the church was named ‘Saint-Sulpice’. Despite the fact, that the church location had nothing in common with the foundations if the ancient pagan temple of Isida, Église Saint-Sulpice impressed with its own giant-like scale and it took Paris one hundred and fifty years to complete the cathedral. The filming crew of Ron Howard was not allowed to shoot inside ‘Église Saint-Sulpice’ and the scenes with Sailas and a nun were recreated within a studio set with large-handed use of the green screen and computer-generated imagery. Incidentally at the moment when the camera shoots upwards to depict the dom and stained-glass windows, the whole panorama was to be computerized. Meanwhile, the exterior shots with Sailas (and a car) were indeed shot beneath the walls of ‘Église Saint-Sulpice’.
Despite the taboo on filming inside the cathedral, it was the ‘Da Vinci Code’ which multiplied the attendance of Église Saint-Sulpice and has turned it into a tourist landmark. On the contrary, the new status has always done a disservice to a church as the administration had to install a plate to debunk the fictional version of Dan Brown and the movie adaptation. The truth is any visitor indeed has the ability to find a copper line on the floor: a reminder of the ‘Parisian meridian’, which goes along the architectural axis of Église Saint-Sulpice. Along with that, the scientific advance of the XVIII century had been never known as the ‘Rose Line’ and the knowable letters ‘S’ and ‘P’ refer to Peter and Sulpice and deals nothing with ‘Priory of Sion’. The churchmen have been appraising the ‘Parisian Meridian’ as a means to specify the Easter Sunday annually. Summing up, you should not put your time in seeking for a foundation stone beneath the Église Saint-Sulpice as well as to disquiet the french monks with the theories from the ‘Da Vinci Code’ movie.
Dan Brown didn’t miss out on a chance to depict a doom image of the Boulogne forest, the indeed Sodom and Gomorrah of Paris, with prostitutes suited to every fancy. Robert is in one’s way frightened with the happenings beyond the taxi and Sophie is ashamed with such kind of a route. Irrespective of whether is used to occur in Boulogne forest at night time and on pages of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ book, the historical park of Paris has been always appraised as one of the most fancied places of leisure for the Parisian citizens. In the course of the last seven centuries, the natural forest was settled as a safe harbor for highwaymen, a suit for the Kings for their promenade, and had been exposed to replanning for a number of times, including planting a tree. The Boulogne forest acquired a form of the one close to the present image as far back as the mid-XIX century with the ambitious replanning of alleys and the erection of the artificial ponds. The movie adaptation push Robert and Sophie forward the pedestrian route across the park with a brief encounter with an addicted man. Speaking on the exact location we could find, it deals with the scene with the entrance. Two characters abandon the car at the wide Avenue Foch street, once named after the French general of the First World War, with an Arc of Triumph at the far background. It should be noted, that the indeed distance to the landmark is much more significant than the movie magic and the lenses of the camera depict.
A DEPOSITARY BANK
Subsequent to a revelation of Jacques Saunière’s heritage, Sophie defines the next supposed destination point as Rue Haxo 24 in the eastern part of Paris. The principal characters of the story sight the depositary bank with a sophisticated keyhole. The movie version is pretty precise in referring to the bookish citadel with a neon sign, a symbol of Switzerland. Robert and Sophie make their way into the courtyard and identify the BANQUE ZURICHOISE DE DEPOT. As a matter of fact, the scene was shot at Rue de Monceau street close to the metro station of the same name. If you would proceed into the building at number 63, erected in 1911, you would find the ‘Musée Nissim de Camondo’, an elegant museum of French decorative arts. The interior scenes were expected recreated within a studio.
SILAS ON THE LINE
Another scene with an albino Silas finally grants us with the desired clue to put him in one scene with the principal characters. A brief night scene reveals the far image of the iconic Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris. The very perspective was shot at Port de Montebello, a location had been favored by cinematographers for decades. The ‘Bourne identity’ movie introduces the Parisian sequence with a glimpse of this very part of the Seine bank with Jason and Marie having their improvised breakfast at a breezy quay. On the same spot, Jesse and Celine, the main characters of the ‘Before sunset’ story go aboard while debating the magnificence of the cathedral. Backslide into ‘Da Vinci Code’, Silas indifferently observes the passage of the ships along the Seine river. The very location could be easily spotted at the heels of the Ponte-de-la-Tournelle bridge. The monk takes his next mission to get himself to Chateau Villette. In an amusing way, Silas would find the mansion without a GPS, a map even faster than the police squad.
LANGDON AT RITZ
When the story, it would seem, made the audience breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge of the truth about the descendants of Christ, the past of Jacques Sauniere, the genealogy of Sophie Neve, the fate of the Grail, the film surprises with an unexpected addition epilogue. In Brown’s novel, we first meet Professor Langdon in a suite at the luxurious Ritz in Paris, where he wakes up in a velvet Renaissance bedroom. Of course, Langdon is a respected and successful writer and academician to afford a room worth at least 700 euros in Ritz, yet in the middle of the book, losing $ 70 on two train tickets to Lille would seem like a tragedy to him. In the movie adaptation, Robert rejoins with a luxurious hotel after a series of incredible and dangerous adventures, in particular, on his return to Paris from the UK. A few drops of blood give him a clue to be associated with the ‘Rose Line’ and the professor leaves the hotel. We see him exiting the front door of the Ritz at 15 Place Vendome and crossing ‘Place Vendome’ square. In the novel, Robert was still planning to have a cup of coffee in the lobby, but his feet themselves carried him to the next destination point, with a sacred pagan meaning.
The Parisian Ritz was the first of its kind and its initial “Parisian’ success made new ones (particularly in London) possible in the course of the XX century. Once inaugurated in 1898 by a swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz, the hotel was appraised as one of the world pioneers of such conveniences as the bath inside the room, electricity and a telephone. For more than a century, before Robert Langdon, the Ritz in Paris hosted such famous guests as Edward VII, a King of Great Britain, a French writer Marcel Proust, a cult comedian Charlie Chaplin, an actress and Oscar winner Greta Garbo, a German sex symbol of her time Marlene Dietrich. The idol-like Coco Chanel settled in the Parisian Ritz during the German occupation of France and after more than thirty years even passed away in one of the hotel rooms. The writer Ernest Hemingway called this place a paradise and a hotel bar was later named after him. It was from the Ritz that Diana, Princess of Wales set off on her last trip on August 31, 1997.
THE ROSE LINE
Moments after a short scene in Ritz, Robert Langdon takes a course towards the line he regards as something more than just a ‘Parisian meridian’, rather a line with a sacred, literally mystic meaning. The bookish Robert had used to appreciate the axis of Paris, which in fact was installed as early as 1994 by a Dutch conceptual artist on behalf of the ARAGO ASSOCIATION. In contrast with 135 medallions in the book, factually as much as 121 bronze signs with the ARAGO inscription (N (North) and S (South) as an addition) were positioned. In pure factual means, not only are the signs on the sidewalks of Paris, not secret, they were installed recently, only to pay tribute to the scientific significance of the ‘Parisian Meridian’, an important landmark in the cartography of France and Europe.
Tom Hanks’ route in the movie was significantly shortened, but again, the literary original by Dan Brown gives us a hand to fill the gap of details. Once left Place Vendome, the professor headed east and entered the Rue des Petits Champs. A little further Robert turned south on Rue de Richelieu, where he heard the scent of jasmine from the PALAIS ROYAL garden. A little further it comes to the famous Comédie-Française, the only comedy theater under the patronage of the French government, the fact that already makes it unique. Robert’s intuition leads him back to Louvre. He sees, through the ‘Passage Richelieu’, that very glass pyramid, and we, as the audience, is being granted with the final clue to the history of the Holy Grail.
Are you a big “The Da Vinci Code” fan? Because I am looking for someone who’d be willing to show around the different spots presented in the movie/book to some travellers coming specifically for this.
Let me know if you are interested:)