Angels & Demons
- St. Michael by Raffaello da Montelupo, once atop Castel Sant'Angelo
This week's movie rental was Angels & Demons, adapted from a novel by Dan Brown, directed by Ron Howard, and starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Ayelet Zurer.
I'd tried to read the book but had to give it up as too silly. Fortunately the movie was a little bit better thanks to some changes in the storyline. The basic plot of the film ...... a scientist/priest working with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN on creating antimatter is murdered and the antimatter stolen to create a bomb (I laugh here because in reality it would take a zillion years to create enough antimatter to make a bomb).
- Ewan McGregor as the Camerlengo
Meanwhile, in Rome, the pope has died and a new pope is in the process of being chosen - while this proceeds, the Camerlengo is in charge of the Vatican. Here's a little of what Wikipedia has ....
Chief among the present responsibilities of the Camerlengo is the formal determination of the death of the reigning Pope; the traditional procedure for this was to strike gently the Pope's head three times with a silver hammer and to call his baptismal name (e.g. "Albine, dormisne?", i.e. "Albino, are you sleeping?") After the Pope is declared dead, the Camerlengo takes possession of the Ring of the Fisherman and cuts it with shears in the presence of the Cardinals, and also destroys the face of the Pope's official seal. These acts symbolize the end of the late Pope's authority. The Camerlengo then notifies the appropriate officers of the Roman Curia and the Dean of the College of Cardinals. He is then involved with the preparations concerning the conclave and the Pope's funeral. Until a successor Pope can be elected, the Camerlengo serves as acting head of State of the Vatican City.
- Professor Langdon (Hanks) and Vittoria (Zurer) find a bomb in the Vatican necropolis
At this critical moment, a secret medieval brotherhood, the Illuminati, appear to have taken prisoner four of the cardinals running for pope (the Papabile), and have threatened to kill them one by one, afterwards blowing up the Vatican with the antimatter bomb. They also kindly leave some mysterious clues to the whereabouts of the cardinals and the bomb. The Vatican summons symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) from Harvard University and Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) from CERN to help them decipher the clues and find and defuse the bomb.
- a Vatican police officer, an inspector in the Gendarme Corps, and a Swiss Guard officer assist Langdon
One interesting thing about the movie is that we get to see neat places, though I'm not sure if we do see the real things in the film, or facsimiles . Here are some of the highlights .....
- CERN. The movie begins at CERN with scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider, in search of the Higgs boson, and supposedly, making mucho antimatter (not! :). I kept hoping Brain Cox would show up in this footage, but sadly, no :) You can visit CERN's Angels & Demons page to get info on how the film is and isn't realistic in the area of its science.
- The Vatican Secret Archives. Langdon gets to search the Vatican archives for a secret message in a banned book by Galileo. You can visit the official website for the archives here, and here's a little of what Wikipedia says about it ....
The Vatican Secret Archives (Latin: Archivum Secretum Vaticanum), located in Vatican City, is the central repository for all of the acts promulgated by the Holy See. These archives also contain the state papers, correspondence, papal account books, and many other documents .... The Vatican Secret Archives have been estimated to contain 52 miles (84 km) of shelving, and there are 35,000 volumes in the selective catalogue alone .... the documentation includes items such as Henry VIII of England's request for a marriage annulment, and letters from Michelangelo.
- a room at the Vatican archives
- The Vatican necropolis. The characters of the film zip down to the necropolis to visit the pope's sarcophagus and to find the antimatter bomb. You can take a virtual tour of the necropolis here, and here's a little about the it from Wikipedia ...
The Vatican Necropolis, also known as the Scavi, lies under the Vatican City, at depths varying between 5 and 12 meters below the basilica. The Vatican sponsored archeological excavations under Saint Peter's in the years 1940 - 1949 which revealed parts of a necropolis dating to Imperial times. The work was undertaken at the request of Pope Pius XI who wished to be buried as close as possible to Peter the Apostle. Peter is said to be buried there due to its proximity to the Circus of Nero where he was martyred.
- Santa Maria della Vittoria. Langdon and his crew visit a number of churches in the film and one of them is this one, which has the well known statue of Teresa of Avila, Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
- Hadrian's tomb. OK, they're calling by its later name, Castel Sant'Angelo, but I remember it from ancient history class as the mausoleum commissioned by the Roman emperor Hadrian back in the day. In the 14th century it became a papal fortress with a passage (the Passetto di Borgo) between it and the Vatican, and now it's a museum. Langdon and Vittoria think they'll find the bomb there, but alas no. Here's a bit from Wikipedia on the statue shown at the top of this post ...
For the chapel constructed by Leo X at the fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo, Raffaello created a Madonna. In addition, he sculpted a marble statue of Saint Michael holding his sword, designed to stand atop the Castel. (Legend holds that in 590 the Archangel appeared atop what was then the mausoleum of Hadrian, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the Roman plague, thus lending the fortress its present name). Raffaello's St. Michael was later replaced by a bronze statue of the same subject, executed by Flemish sculptor Peter Anton von Verschaffelt in 1753. His version may still be seen in an open court in the interior of the fortress.
- Castel Sant'Angelo