By David Edenden
"The Secret Book", a film written by Jordan Plevnes, is Macedonia's entry to the Cannes film festival. I can't wait to see this movie. Fiachra has a good sense of humour.
Like him, I smell a plot! I think he should look into the Greek film Ulysses' Gaze, by Theo Angelopoulos through the prism of Greek treatment of its Macedonian minority. We will find a real plot there!
Cannes, Cathars and Conspiracy
Friday May 26, 2006
Purporting to rock Christendom and the Papacy to its white silk slippers, the Da Vinci Code opened the Cannes film festival last week and quickly became one of the fastest grossing films of all time. But has a hidden hand been at work here?
Why, you may wonder, with so much money at stake, did its producers take the risk of releasing it at the world's snootiest film festival, knowing it might suffer the critical mauling it got?
It may be because they knew that another film about the real heretical "bible" suppressed by the church for the past 1,000 years - a film begun before Dan Brown even set pen to paper -was finally about to be shown.
The Secret Book is the official Macedonian entry at Cannes. But you won't have read anything about it. Oh no. They have made sure of that. Call the Cannes press office and you will be told, as I was, "Quel film est ca? Mais il n'existe pas . . ." It may as well not, for its premiere was hidden away in a tiny screening room at the festival' fag end.
Coincidence or conspiracy? You decide. Brown's novel is based on the "discovery" of a set of highly disputed parchments called Les Dossiers Secret identifying members of a secret society, the Priory of Sion, allegedly descended from the Cathars. The Macedonian film is based on Le Livre Secret, a real mystical book written by the Bogomils, a Manichean cult whose ideas, carried back to France and Italy from the Balkans by returning crusaders in the 11th century, became the basis of the Cathar heresy. Like them, the Bogomils were massacred by the church and their name almost burned from history.
Two later copies of the Secret Book survive - one still hangs in punishment from the ceiling of the Museum of the Inquisition in Carcassonne - but the original written in Glagolic, the old Slavic script wiped out by the cyrillic alphabet imposed by the church, has never been found. Strangely, there is no mention of the book, or indeed of the Bogomils, in Brown's book.
Since it wrapped four years ago - a year before the Da Vinci Code was published - the Secret Book has been beset by obstacles. But Jordan Plevnes, one of three brothers who wrote the script (symbologists take note), is too much of a diplomat to suggest that the whole Da Vinci Code phenomenon is an elaborate smokescreen cooked up to obscure the light they shed on the Bogomils. He is after all, the Macedonian ambassador to France, one of the Balkans' leading playwrights, and his latest novel, the Eighth Wonder of the World, has won one of France's top literary prizes, the Silver Jasmine.
"But it does make you think," he confessed. "And yes, there is definitely a conspiracy at work - a conspiracy of blandness. There is a tyranny of banality now ruling the world; Hollywood and Dan Brown are part of that. This is our European story and we should be allowed to tell it ourselves."
So will we ever see Plevnes' film? That depends on a secretive, semi-masonic group, more powerful than any inquisitor, who decide in darkened rooms what films we get to see - the Distributors of the Priory of Soho.
So if you never hear of the Secret Book again, you will know that they, like Opus Dei and the mad monk Silas, have done their work.
The Secret Book's website is www.tajnatakniga.com.mk