Angels & Demons & Silly Mistakes

Dear Mr. Ron Howard,

I went to see your new movie last night. I am writing to tell you that I am available to consult on your next movie so that you do not get so many things wrong. I am not expensive.


The alarmists who were worried about the portrayal of the Catholic Church in "Angels and Demons" had nothing to worry about. The Churchmen portrayed were, mostly, the good guys. The homilettes about the relationship of science and faith were ridiculous caricatures, of course, but so be it. Movie producers are permitted to indulge silliness if they wish. And, the action was non-stop which is all some of us expect when we go to the movies. I give the movie a B minus.

What made me crazy were the little mistakes. At the very beginning of the movie, the Camerlengo is introduced and he is a simple priest, the recently deceased Pope’s secretary. In fact, the post of Camerlengo is always a Cardinal. A German Cardinal is called "Grand Cardinal Elector," a post that does not exist, at least no in the Roman Church. At the end of the movie, (no, I won’t give away the plot) the newly elected Pontiff is getting robed in what appears to be the "room of tears" which is a small room adjacent to the Sistine Chapel. But, in the movie, the room gave on to the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. In fact, behind the loggia doors where a new Pope is proclaimed is the Hall of Benedictions, a large room that overlooks the Basilica itself. Then, just as he prepares to go out and greet the multitudes, the new Pope is given a miter, when in fact, a new Pope appears wearing only a zucchetto on his head.

These simple mistakes are distracting. You, Mr. Howard, must find better books to work with. But, next time, let me help you with the fine print.

Sincerely, Michael Sean Winters




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9 years 8 months ago
It's fiction. Last time I checked....fiction. Why bother correcting ''fiction?'' Besides, no one is forcing you to see it.
9 years 8 months ago
Why bother correcting fiction? Because, unfortunately, many, many people confuse the factual aspects of fiction with reality. How many thousands (millions, probably) of people draw their picture of the Confederacy from Gone with the Wind, either as a book or as a movie? How many draw their picture of the Holocaust from Schindler's List? or, for that matter, think that 19th century Britain was entirely populated by Dickensian characters? or that the real Henry V was the one we know from Shakespeare? Don't get me wrong. Fiction may well deal with truth, and great fiction almost always does, but truth and factual accuracy are not necessarily the same thing. You could spend a lifetime studying Dante's Comedy, or King Lear, and still be learning from it at the time of your death but if you believe that Dante actually made the trip, and is writing essentially a journalistic report of his observations, or that Britain was once ruled by a king named Lear who had a dysfunctional relationship with his daughters, you might just be missing the point. Well, I could go on, but . . .
9 years 8 months ago
If you're looking for a reasoned discussion in the faith/science vein, perhaps an mystery/action move is the wrong place to look.  There is only so much one can put in and keep it a managable length. And with regards to creating imaginary offices in the Vatican...sometimes a bit of what is called ''artistic license'' is taken in fiction in order to move the story along and not beleaguer it with details that don't move the plot forward.  However, I will ask for forgiveness for any misunderstandings about the essence of your faith I may have picked up by these incorrect details.  I hope you will grant me and Mr. Howard that if he so desires it. I re-read _A Canticle for Liebowitz_ recently which might be of interest to you for a comparison, as it was written by a Catholic (see  Some of the nuclear apocalypse material is (we hope) dated, but I agree that it is one of the best written sci fi novels in that sort of faith/science genre.  Most striking to me in the book is the Order's regard for the preservation of _all_ knowledge and life, not just that which is expedient or helps preserve the Order's position in the world.  This, to me, is one of the great virtues of faith, the essential non-violence embodied in it when it is being practiced correctly. I also ask forgiveness for what was probably a ''sophmoric'' foray into faith just there.


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