Da Vinci Code, United 93, and seeking truth


Yes, yes, I know – everyone’s talking (talked) about DVC and it’s already old news! I’d almost resolved not to mention it here but I’m reading it as I’m part of a Christian Impact Study Group and I thought I’d share my pain. Actually it’s very readable and I can understand why it’s so popular – an energetic fast paced story that’s definitely fun fiction – it’s just that as truth it’s complete tosh. But it got me thinking…

Dan Brown makes great claims regarding the factual basis for his story on the page before the prologue. Some of the information in DVC is indeed true, some facts and descriptions, though less of it than Dan Brown would wish us to believe. I suppose all conspiracy theories derive their power from some roots in the world of reality. In a sense, Brown is using a few facts to give validity to a work of fiction – which is what fiction writers often do. But it’s his implication that this work reveals some hidden truth that grates with many people.


By contrast I’ve also been thinking about ‘United 93’ – the film about the fourth plane in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a form of ‘docudrama’ this film will, in effect, become the received historical account of what actually happened – truth embodied in film. The Director, Paul Greengrass, has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that he’s researched all that can be known about events during those terrible 90 minutes or so. We know a lot about what happened outside the plane, but we know virtually nothing about what really happened inside the plane. However, what we end up with is a story that is essentially true, even though we’re missing important details.

DVC uses (or abuses) facts, implies truth and is actually pure fiction.
United 93 lacks many facts, tries hard to avoid ‘over fictionalising’ and yet somehow I feel it’s probably not far from the truth.
Perhaps, in our occasional tendency to rush for a proof text, the truth is bigger than a few facts.

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