Ron Howard

Ron Howard

Posted April 21, 2009 | 10:09 AM (EST)

Angels & Demons: It's A Thriller, Not A Crusade

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William Donohue of the Catholic League is on a mission. Whether it is a "mission from God," as the Blues Brothers would say, only God knows, but the goal of his mission is clear: to paint me and the movie I directed, Angels & Demons, as anti-Catholic.

For a $5 donation to his organization, Mr. Donohue will send you his glossy new booklet (Angels & Demons: More Demonic Than Angelic), in which he writes that I and the people who made this thriller "do not hide their animus against all things Catholic."

He's been making these assertions for years, going back to the theatrical release of The Da Vinci Code. He stepped up his campaign more than a month ago with a series of press releases. And there he goes again, in a Daily News op-ed last Friday, saying that Dan Brown and I "have collaborated in smearing the Catholic Church...."

Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome. After all, in Angels & Demons, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?

Mr. Donohue's booklet accuses us of lying when our movie trailer says the Catholic Church ordered a brutal massacre to silence the Illuminati centuries ago. It would be a lie if we had ever suggested our movie is anything other than a work of fiction (if it were a documentary, our talk of massacres would have referenced the Inquisition or the Crusades). And if fictional movies could never take liberties with reality, then there would have been no Ben-Hur, no Barabbas, The Robe, Gone With The Wind, or Titanic. Not to mention Splash!

I guess Mr. Donohue and I do have one thing in common: we both like to create fictional tales, as he has done with his silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda.

Mr. Donohue's op-ed and booklet also suggest that we paint the Church as "anti-reason." There is plenty of debate over what the Church did or didn't do with Galileo, but I for one do recognize that the Church did much throughout the ages to encourage and preserve education, the arts and the sciences.

Had Mr. Donohue and his allies waited to see Angels & Demons before criticizing it, they would have seen references to struggles within the Church between faith and science, but they would also have seen clear signs of support for the pursuit of science at the highest levels of the Vatican. Indeed, one of the first scenes of the movie depicts a scientist at the high-tech CERN laboratory...and he is a priest.

And it's a two-way street. As Dr. Rolf Landua of CERN said during my visit to their facilities in February, "Most physicists which I know are very, very tolerant towards all kinds of religious beliefs, many of them are themselves religious believers....When you look at the scientific way we are looking at these questions, you come to the conclusion that there's always some part which we cannot explain."

Even the current "faith vs. science" debate over embryonic stem cells is briefly depicted in Angels & Demons in a balanced way.

But since Mr. Donohue has, in effect, smeared me by claiming I am smearing his Church, I want him to know this: I have respect for Catholics and their Church, and know they accomplish many good works throughout the world. And I believe Angels & Demons treats the Church with respect -- even a degree of reverence -- for its traditions and beliefs.

I know faith is believing without seeing (and a boycott would be disbelieving without seeing). But I don't expect William Donohue to have faith in me, so I encourage him to see Angels & Demons for himself. Then he will finally witness, and perhaps believe, that what I say is true.

Ron Howard is the director of "Angels & Demons" and is co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment

William Donohue of the Catholic League is on a mission. Whether it is a "mission from God," as the Blues Brothers would say, only God knows, but the goal of his mission is clear: to paint me and the...
William Donohue of the Catholic League is on a mission. Whether it is a "mission from God," as the Blues Brothers would say, only God knows, but the goal of his mission is clear: to paint me and the...
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- New jeanwny See Profile I'm a Fan of jeanwny permalink

Donahue and the Roman Catholic Church, which I was raised in ,should focus their attention on the issues that are really pertinent in this era, and face up to some recent transgressions that they find convenient to sweep under the rug. We all know of what I speak. There are many more important matters that need to be addressed, live and let live, its a work of fiction.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:01 PM on 04/22/2009
- New EricJohn2 See Profile I'm a Fan of EricJohn2 permalink

Angels & Demons: It's an antichrist crusade disguised as a thriller. 'Nuff said!

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:00 PM on 04/22/2009
- New Adrienne Wilkins See Profile I'm a Fan of Adrienne Wilkins permalink

Perception is everything.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:59 PM on 04/22/2009
- New VINER See Profile I'm a Fan of VINER permalink

at CERN . . . many of them are themselves religious believers ??
the majority of scientist are non-belivers. They usualy need to see proof of it - not faith.
I highly recommend Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism - for the chapter on "hell" alone...

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:21 PM on 04/22/2009
- Denni See Profile I'm a Fan of Denni permalink

I only thought I liked you before, I'm a Ron Howard fan for LIFE, now! Not only am I going to go see the film, I'm going to take as many people as I can with me, and make SURE to buy the DVD!!!!!!!

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:56 PM on 04/22/2009
- New gypsycat See Profile I'm a Fan of gypsycat permalink

Been a Ron Howard fan since we had lockers next to each other at Jordan Jr. High. Proud to see he's gone on to make a difference in this world. Regarding the "comments" about his films. First, I'm glad to see all the dialogue. Second , he movie is about Catholicism not christianity which didn't become the religion of the land untile Constantine. Then, now look at this closely you catholic historians, during the first Christian vs. Christian crusade, against the Cathars, many books, people and who knows what of significant historical value was burned. I ask, what are you so afraid people will find you bishops, priests and the pope? I do believe in spirituality, but it is not the "christianity" of Jesus Christ. Seek and yea shall find. Look a little deeper those who oppose to find the real source, and the fiction that makes such great movies.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 02:02 PM on 04/22/2009
- maxfax See Profile I'm a Fan of maxfax permalink

Without Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, Donohue would be sitting in a rocking chair at the retirement home. He should thank his Creator everyday for giving him a purpose, even if it's misguided.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:42 PM on 04/22/2009
- Elle3 See Profile I'm a Fan of Elle3 permalink

All those who cast thy first stone towards a book/movie that provides humanity with an ENTERTAINING story of religion....need to read your own damn book~ the bible. Where it blatantly admits to having thousands of killed in the name of God, people stoned for breaking a "rule", and NOBODY actually following the WWJD ideal....oiy, Christians and there mixed messages....

Seriously, I teach religious studies...and the propaganda, lies, torture, and genocide produced by the religion that is boycotting this film is staggering compared to this insignificant book/blockbuster.

Seriously, y'all~ welcome to the 21st century- I applaud you, Mr. Howard for creating this film for ENTERTAINMENT purposes and allowing us rational humans to judge whether we want to see it, enjoy it for ourselves. IPersonally, I can't wait to see your film!

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:37 PM on 04/22/2009
- mmindas See Profile I'm a Fan of mmindas permalink

Mr. Donahue is a man with too much time on his hands. Maybe he should put his time into other things like getting people who approved torture techniques prosecuted.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 12:03 PM on 04/22/2009
- thinkingabovemypaygrade See Profile I'm a Fan of thinkingabovemypaygrade permalink

I will eventually rent Angels& Demons thru my home video account. If it is like the previous one Mr. Howard with (with Tom Hanks) it will be more respectful of Christianity than Brown's book...tho Howard carried forth Dan Brown's slippery pseudo-scholarship masquerading as "just fiction".

Mr. Howard has considerable talent. If he could find a truly noble script (like a remake of To Kill A Mockingbird for instance??).

I am told that some corrective signs are posted at some of the famous places Dan Brown "misinterpreted" in his past book. Will Angels & Demons book/movie do better? Or will that movie/book ALSO inspire more tour guides to study up in order to correct the credulous who believe whatever merely sounds/looks good in print/on screen???

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 11:04 AM on 04/22/2009
- kheald See Profile I'm a Fan of kheald permalink

It seems to me that there are far more important issues in the world to be up in arms over than a Hollywood film. I won't be seeing the movie. However, it has nothing to do with any anti-Catholic conspiracy. I read the book and loved it. The subsequent movies just never quite measure up.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 10:57 AM on 04/22/2009
- Rosy See Profile I'm a Fan of Rosy permalink

I am looking forward to the movie. Loved the book. I don't get what some people are upset over. The book is clearly a work of fiction. Protesting something that is fiction seems so silly when there are so many real things the protestors could be spending their time and energy feeding the hungry, helping the poor, you know, stuff that Jesus cared about.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 10:48 AM on 04/22/2009
- whitewater See Profile I'm a Fan of whitewater permalink

Ron, I too know people who are black, gay or Roman Catholic.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 10:12 AM on 04/22/2009
- Saidas See Profile I'm a Fan of Saidas permalink

I wonder what would be said of a big budget, historically accurate documentary about the Roman Catholic Church...oh, let's say from the Inquisition to the present including Nazi collaboration, child molestation...well, you get the idea.

The truth is far more damaging than any fictional movie.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 09:50 AM on 04/22/2009
- Ninure See Profile I'm a Fan of Ninure permalink

If your movie is anything like the book, it will be profoundly PRO Catholic.

But ya know, for some reason American Conservative "Christians" are only happy when they can CLAIM they are being persecuted. Maybe they need to go a land where Christians are the true minority and experience what real anti-Christian persecution feels like.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 11:13 AM on 04/22/2009
- JoeGuy See Profile I'm a Fan of JoeGuy permalink

You fail to mention the repression of medical science and discrimination against gays. Martin Luther got it right.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 11:30 AM on 04/22/2009
- New PaxMundis See Profile I'm a Fan of PaxMundis permalink

Um, Luther didn't leave the church because of its persecution of gays. As well, he was a notorious anti-semite. Not to mention that he singlehandedly did more to persuade Christians that it didn't matter what good works they did as long as they were "saved."

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 01:18 PM on 04/22/2009
- mofmars333 See Profile I'm a Fan of mofmars333 permalink

Donahue's a mean spirited fool and it shows. Thanks Ron for the years of good hearted spirit. I loved your Obama support skit. That filled my heart with super great joy as I'm sure it did many Americans.

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 08:09 AM on 04/22/2009
- oxi See Profile I'm a Fan of oxi permalink

It's always about the Roman Catholics isin't it?

You know Tom Hanks is Eastern Orthodox!

    Reply    Favorite    Flag as abusive Posted 05:25 AM on 04/22/2009
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