|Museum Puts 'Da Vinci Code' On Trial In Leonardo's Hometown|
Museum Puts 'Da Vinci Code' On Trial In Leonardo's Hometown
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 19, 2005
ROME, Feb. 18 (AP) - Art experts and conservative clerics are holding an unusual trial in Leonardo da Vinci's hometown, aimed at sorting out fact from fiction in "The Da Vinci Code" after many readers took the hit novel as gospel truth.
The event in Vinci, just outside Florence, began Friday with an opening statement by Alessandro Vezzosi, director of a Leonardo museum. He said he would produce photographs and documents as evidence of mistakes and historical inaccuracies contained in the book, in which secret societies, code-breaking, art history and religious cabals and lore all play a major role.
"Leonardo is misrepresented and belittled," Mr. Vezzosi said in a telephone interview hours before the event began. "His importance is misunderstood. He was a man full of fantasy, inventions and genius."
Mr. Vezzosi said he would produce evidence through 120 photographs based on documents and paintings with the aim of "reassessing and disclaiming the author" of the book, Dan Brown. Mr. Vezzosi said one example of the mistakes contained in the book is the statement that the Mona Lisa was made in Leonardo's image.
Several of the book's plot twists have provoked unprecedented protest among Roman Catholic and Protestant conservatives, who contended that the characters maligned Christianity and inaccurately characterized its history.
Mr. Brown has not said much about the controversy his book has inspired. But he told the "Today" show on NBC in June 2003 that while the main character, Robert Langdon, is fictional, "all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact."
Organizers said that nobody would speak in the book's defense and that the "verdict" would be contained within the speakers' presentations.
But that does not mean the book will be completely hung out to dry: hundreds of fans are expected to attend the trial. And a representative of the Catholic group Opus Dei, which is featured prominently in the book, will be present to help to set the record straight on the organization's history, said Monsignor Renato Bellini, the vicar of Vinci.
"The Da Vinci Code" has sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide and is expected to be made into a movie. It has also spawned a cottage industry in books and events, like the Vinci trial, seeking to debunk it.