STUDIO: Sony Pictures
MSRP: $24.96
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes

The Pitch

How to keep Dan Brown on the best seller list a few months longer.

The Humans

Narrated by Susan Sarandon (Checkered Flag or Crash)

Does this image inspire dirty thoughts? No? Good, you get out a lot more than this sad sack.

The Nutshell

An exploration of alternate views of early Christianity, notably the theory set forth by Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code that Mary Magdalene is actually the mother of Jesus’ child, and therefore her spirit the sacred feminine and her body the holy grail.

The Lowdown

To put it mildly, I’ve never been terribly religious. If I harbor any interest in churches or temples, it is only for their unique architectural features. My knowledge of religious texts pretty much begins and ends with John 3:16, which as far as I know encourages garishly colored hairstyles.

Lemmy recalls an intimate encounter with the sacred feminine backstage at the Marquee Club in 1977.

So I’m hardly the target audience for Secrets of the Code, one of an avalanche of products attempting to ride The Da Vinci Code‘s coattails. Frankly the whole "controversy" surrounding that book is lost on me. Arguments over the background and actions of Mary Magdalene strike me as the equivalent of pedantic fanboy rants over whether zombies can run or Batman sanctions murder. Digging for absolute truths when waist deep in fiction seems fruitless at best.

At least Secrets isn’t some bargain bin hack job. Most of the discussion is reasonably balanced and articulate, and there’s some pretty photography of relevant Christian locations around Europe and Israel. Ultimately many of the film’s specific historical claims fail to be very convincing, as they rely overwhelmingly on the speculation of eccentric "experts" who struggle not to come off as crackpots. Among the less successful are an elderly man excited by pornographic rock formations and a wrinkled Elvira wannabe who punctuates her colorful accusations with spasmodic gesticulation.

"I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we?"

When the film occasionally steps back from Mr. Brown’s wild conspiracy theories to look at the big picture it does make some cogent observations on the evolution and influence of religious stories. It’s remarked that the world might be a better and much less divided place if people would simply accept such tales as allegory, rather than trying to divine historical precedents from them.

The Package

The cover does look like a bargain bin special, with only Sarandon’s name in large print saving it from total disregard.

The absence of extras is curious, though certainly welcome from my perspective. One would think a film consisting primarily of interviews would have no shortage of excess footage. Then again this is a Sony Pictures DTV, and the inclusion of bilingual subtitles is positively extravagant compared with the threadbare releases afforded the other famous longhaired S.S.

"Jump back, what’s that sound? Here she comes, full blast and top down…"

If you’re one of those insatiable Da Vinci Code junkies there’s probably some intriguing food for thought in Secrets of the Code, assuming you haven’t already seen it in half a dozen other documentaries. If on the other hand you only watched the Ron Howard film due to a perverse fascination with Tom Hanks’ sublime mullet, your time will be better spent on one of Ms. Sarandon’s more moving orations on religion, such as Bull Durham.

4.5 out of 10