February 04, 2005

Holy Grail, or Holy Bloodlines?

I've been watching a Channel 4 documentary about Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, and the theories it sets out about the Holy Grail really being not a cup, but the descendants of Jesus Christ. I was mainly watching it because I have read the book, and was intrigued that some people would take the ideas presented in a work of fiction to be credible. That, and it was presented by Tony Robinson, who Rocks.

He systematically works through all the claims and theories presented in the book, slowly wearing them down by simple historical facts and figures in a fascinating piece of research into the Holy Grail legends. I've always loved the tales of King Arthur, I'll read anything that I can get my hands on about them and of course, with the Holy Grail being the highlight of the stories, it's always fascinated me too.

The thing I most enjoyed about this programme is the same thing that makes the grail legends so compelling. It gives a wonderful insight into human obsessions. The grail legends are about seemingly fruitless quests that are fueled by a passionate belief in a mysterious and powerful object, and this programme was no different. Here we are searching for evidence of the theories behind the book and the ideas it portrays, it is not a cup we search for, but a truth.

Tony Robinson brings a lightness to the documentary which is refreshing in a programme delving into a very complex topic, potentially threatening the whole framework of the modern church which is extremely powerful in today's society. However he still takes his subject matter seriously at every stage, for each part of the novel that he shows false, he doesn't let it biase his research into the next, taking every claim as something to be researched fully on it's own merits.

So I stayed attached to the screen, pausing only for the adverts, until the very end. I have recorded this to video or any one who has missed it and would like to see it. I would heartily recommend reading the book, it wasn't particularly well written, in fact I was quite disappointed by what promised to be an exciting cryptography thriller in the style of Indiana Jones with Maths. But I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it ripped apart by Tony Robinson, which more than made up for the slight sense of feeling ripped of that I felt after reading it. Well, that and the nodding Jesus doll he had in his car.

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