Columns > Published on September 7th, 2016

10 Super Weird Things About 'The Da Vinci Code'

Let's start this off with an admission of guilt: I decided on this column because I thought 2016 was the ten-year anniversary of the release of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. 

It turns out 2016 is the ten-year anniversary of the movie's release. The book came out in 2003.

However, there are so many weird things surrounding this book and its author, the list had to be written. There was too much good stuff to pass up simply because it wasn't the book's 10-year, tin anniversary as opposed to its 13-year, lace anniversary.

On that sexy note, let's do this!

1. Author Dan Brown was once a pop singer

Yes. Does he have a song called "976-LOVE"? Yes. Is it about phone sex? Yes. Do you want to jump over to his web site and hear a snippet? YES. Does he have a lot of other songs? Totally.

It turns out that before Dan Brown decided to go ahead and write one of the best-selling novels of all time, he had aspirations to be a pop singer. But it didn't pan out for reasons Brown sums up pretty simply:

The world isn't ready for a pale, balding geek shaking his booty on MTV.

Is there a secret clue to some shady Vatican dealings hidden in these songs? I didn't listen long enough to find out. If you want to take on that task, Godspeed.

2. Dan Brown's dad probably wrote your math textbook

Recognize this bad boy? Were you ever tortured by this one? I was. I can remember staring at that calculator longingly. Looking at that shell and thinking it looked like a shiny dog turd.

If this cover brings you right back to math class, you should know the contents were written by Richard G. Brown, father of Dan Brown. It turns out that Richard was quite the mathematician, and at one point he was even approached to be in the NSA, a gig he turned down for family reasons.

What hidden clues might be present in this mish-mash of objects? What's going on with that cone stabbing through that purple plane? Is it possible that the shell really IS dog crap? Is this a case of like father like son, and are there secrets hidden here that lead to some kind of underground bunker? I doubt it. Like Freud said, "Sometimes a piece of something that might be dogshit is just dogshit."

3. There was a whole cottage industry of books debunking 'The Da Vinci Code'

Am I the only person who finds this fascinating? I've asked around, and nobody else finds this interesting, that there were multiple books and high-level discussions that involved debunking the facts contained within The Da Vinci Code, a work of fiction. It feels like...imagine if you saw a book on the shelf debunking Tron. Why? How? 

Granted, Dan Brown claimed that the book was 99% historically accurate, and while that's a stretch, it's hardly the first time "Based On A True Story" has been used to heighten drama.

There are three basic areas in which the truth of The Code, as us cool kids call it, has been attacked.

First, religion. This is a tough one. Certain things about the book are disputed by religious scholars, but from time to time, the evidence is something like, "The Pope said so," or there's a lot riding on different interpretations of Bible passages. 

Second, history. A little more solid as evidence goes, especially when it comes to the architectural history of the Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris, where this sign was put up at one point:


The third category of attacks come from the realm of astronomy. Apparently, a lot of the stuff written about Venus in The Code is just not accurate. These points are fairly easy to prove and have been substantiated by a number of critics because they involve, you know, tilting your head back and looking at the sky.

4. Rosslyn Chapel is real and weird

Making an appearance in the book and the movie, Rossyln Chapel is a real place with a strange history. Conspiracy theories abound—everything from strange carvings to possible connections to Freemasonry and the Knights Templar, to theories that the chapel is a connection to an underground network of tunnels where the mummified head of Jesus Christ has been kept.

Mummy Jesus. You heard it here.

All that aside, my favorite story about Rosslyn Chapel goes like this:

Supposedly, there was a mason and an apprentice working on a pillar. The mason thought the pillar could not be completed until he'd traveled to see the original column upon which this new column would be based. The mason leaves to go see this far-away pillar, which sounds like an excuse to take an expenses-paid business trip to me, and by the time he gets back, the apprentice has completed the pillar. The mason is pissed that he was shown up by this young upstart, and he smashes in the apprentice's head with a hammer. The mason's punishment? The mason's face was carved into a corner opposite the pillar so that he would be forced to stare at the apprentice's work FOR-EV-ER. Man, justice was poetic as hell back in the day.

photo: User Guinnog on en.wikipedia

5. Tom Hanks' Hair


Tom Hanks had a visual in his head for The Code's main character, Robert Langdon. And then he had to follow through and put that vision ON his head. Hanks conjured up an image of Langdon's long, flowing hair, and he was determined to make it happen despite the fact that his hair is normally curly:

We talked about a wig, but that ends up taking a huge amount of time...So I went to these guys who know about hair chemistry and found a way.

Better living through chemistry. I guess.

6. Kryptos

Hidden in the dust jacket of The Da Vinci Code are some numbers.

It turns out those numbers, plugged into a geolocation program, will lead you to Kryptos. 

Kryptos is a sculpture on the grounds of CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. It contains 4 encrypted messages, three of which have been solved, one of which remains unsolved as of this writing.

The artist responsible for Kryptos, Jim Sanborn, has given out several clues that are supposed to help sleuths decode Kryptos' last section, most recently suggesting that the answer is to be found somewhere on a clock in Berlin.

If you're in Berlin, look around. Also, if you're in Berlin and get tired of looking at clocks, just go to the sex museum. There's a diorama, much like there are nature dioramas in a regular museum, but this one is of a guy painting a picture of a woman's butt. I swear this is true. Sometimes you have to solve a vast conspiracy to find treasure, other times it's simply waiting behind a velvet rope.

7. Brown's Routine

Much is made of the work routines of successful business people, and authors are no exception.

When he writes, Brown gets up at 4 AM, and he writes in spurts, using an hourglass to time out his intervals. When the hourglass runs out of sand, he does push-ups and sit-ups. He's also a believer in inversion therapy, which is a fancy way of describing the act of hanging upside-down.

8. Yep, there was a 'Da Vinci Code' video game

If you were lucky enough to have a PS2, Xbox, or PC in 2006, you could play the adventures of Robert Langdon.

"It's just like being IN the book," said no one.

The game consisted of puzzles (makes sense), searching 3D environments (sounds reasonable), and melee combat. Wait...okay, yes, that's correct, melee combat.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about the game, the Wikipedia plot summary is 1250 words long. The summary for the book's plot is less than 900 words.

9.  Quotes from the book and motivational posters sound almost identical

See if you can tell which of these three is NOT from The Code:

10. There is a young adult version of the book coming out this month

That's right. 13 years in the making, The Da Vinci Code for the younger set is finally coming. Why did this take so long? What secrets does it hold? Which yacht is Dan Brown going to buy next? These are the burning questions.

About the author

Peter Derk lives, writes, and works in Colorado. Buy him a drink and he'll talk books all day.  Buy him two and he'll be happy to tell you about the horrors of being responsible for a public restroom.

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