Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons Information

Angels & Demons is a 2009 American thriller film directed by Ron Howard and based on Dan Brown's novel by the same name. It is the sequel to the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, although the book was published first in series chronology. Filming of Angels & Demons took place in Rome, Italy, and the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. Tom Hanks reprises the lead role of Robert Langdon, while producer Brian Grazer, composer Hans Zimmer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman also return.


Under the watchful eyes of Father Silvano Bentivoglio and Dr. Vittoria Vetra, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) initiates the Large Hadron Collider and creates three vials of antimatter particles larger than any that have ever been produced before. Immediately afterward, Father Silvano is killed and one of the vials of antimatter goes missing. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church mourns the sudden death of Pope Pius XVI in Rome and prepares for the papal conclave to elect the next Pope while Camerlengo Patrick McKenna assumes temporary control of the Vatican. The Illuminati kidnap the 'preferiti' (the four most likely cardinals to be elected pope) before the conclave enters seclusion and threaten to kill one candidate every hour and destroy all of Vatican City at midnight, using the missing vial of antimatter as a bomb. The Vatican summons symbologist Robert Langdon from Harvard University and Vittoria from CERN to help them save the four preferiti and locate the vial.

Langdon listens to the Illuminati's message and deduces that the four cardinals will die at the four altars of the "Path of Illumination," marked by statues of angels in locations relevant to the four classical elements. Over Commander Maximilian Richter's, head of the Swiss Guard, objections, but with McKenna's consent, Langdon is granted access to the Vatican Secret Archives to examine Galileo Galilei's banned book, and following clues with Vittoria, Inspector General Ernesto Olivetti, and Lieutenant Valenti of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, arrive at Chigi Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo. There they find Cardinal Ebner dead, suffocated with soil and branded with an ambigrammatic word "Earth". They verify the second altar's location is Saint Peter's Square, but are unable to save Cardinal Lamassé, his lungs punctured and his body branded with an ambigrammatic word, "Air".

While Vetra studies Silvano's diaries, Langdon and the Vatican officers locate the third church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, but are unable to save Cardinal Guidera from being burned to death. His body is branded with an ambigrammatic word, "Fire". The assassin appears and brutally kills everyone except Langdon, who escapes. Langdon and two Carabinieri officers race to the Water altar, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, where the assassin murders the officers and drops a bound and weighted Cardinal Baggia into the fountain. Langdon, assisted by bystanders, saves the cardinal, who tells him the Illuminati's lair is Castel Sant'Angelo. There Langdon and Vetra discover a hidden passageway leading to the Vatican, being used as a hideout for the assassin. Discovering a case with marks for five branding irons, they realize the fifth brand is for the camerlengo but are confronted by the assassin before they can alert McKenna. The assassin spares their lives, then cryptically warns them that his contractors were "men of God". He escapes but is then killed when his car explodes.

Inside the Vatican, Langdon and Vetra find Commander Richter hovering over McKenna with a gun, the Vatican symbol branded into McKenna's chest. Richter is shot by the Guards, and Langdon takes a key that slips from Richter's hand. The stolen antimatter vial is found in St. Peter's Tomb below the church, but the battery life is too low to risk re-connecting it to a battery. McKenna, a former military pilot, seizes the vial and uses an awaiting helicopter to fly above the Vatican. At a high altitude, he parachutes out as the antimatter bomb explodes overhead. McKenna is hailed a hero and savior, and the cardinals move to elect him pope. Langdon and Vetra use Richter's key to watch a security video showing McKenna speaking to Richter before the attack. The video reveals that McKenna, not the Illuminati, is the mastermind behind the scheme, intending to use the incident to be named pope and rally the church's most conservative followers to his side. This video is shown to the Papal conclave, and when McKenna discovers he has been exposed he flees to a remote recess in the building where he is able to commit suicide before anyone can stop him.

The Vatican officially announces that McKenna died due to internal injuries suffered during his parachute landing, and Cardinal Baggia is named Pope Luke I, with Cardinal Strauss as the new camerlengo. Strauss thanks Langdon for his assistance and gives Langdon Galileo's "Diagramma Veritatis" for his research, requesting only that Langdon's will contain a bequest that it be returned to the Vatican, and that any future references he makes to the Catholic Church in his future publications are done "gently". The movie closes with the newly elected pope, Cardinal Baggia, stepping out onto his balcony for the first time to the cheers of the crowd below.


  • Tom Hanks reprises his role as Robert Langdon, a Harvard University professor of symbology.
  • Ewan McGregor as the Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Carlo Ventresca in the book).
  • Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra, a CERN scientist whose antimatter experiment has been stolen by the Illuminati to be used as a bomb.
  • Stellan Skarsgård as Commander Maximilian Richter, head of the Swiss Guard.
  • Pierfrancesco Favino as Inspector Ernesto Olivetti of the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State.
  • Nikolaj Lie Kaas as The Assassin (The Hassassin in the book).
  • Armin Mueller-Stahl as Cardinal Strauss, Dean of the College of Cardinals and the Papal Conclave (Mortati in the book).
  • David Pasquesi as Claudio Vincenzi, a Vatican police officer sent to summon Robert Langdon to Rome.
  • Thure Lindhardt as Lieutenant Chartrand, officer of the Swiss Guard.
  • Elya Baskin as Cardinal Petrov, an eligible member of the Papal Conclave.
  • Kristof Konrad as the Polish Reporter for TVP.
  • Pasquale Cassalia as the reporter for RAI.
  • Auguste Fredrik as the Swiss Guardsman.
  • Endre Hules as the CERN scientist.



In 2003, Sony acquired the film rights to Angels & Demons along with The Da Vinci Code in a deal with author Dan Brown. In May 2006, following the release of the 2006 film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, Sony hired screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who wrote the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, to adapt Angels & Demons. Filming was originally to begin in February 2008 for a December 2008 release, but because of the 2007"2008 Writers Guild of America strike, production was pushed back for a May 15, 2009 release. David Koepp rewrote the script before shooting began.

Director Ron Howard chose to treat Angels & Demons as a sequel to the previous film, rather than a prequel, since many had read the novel after The Da Vinci Code. He liked the idea that Langdon had been through one adventure and become a more confident character. Howard was also more comfortable taking liberties in adapting the story because the novel is less popular than The Da Vinci Code. Producer Brian Grazer said they were too "reverential" when adapting The Da Vinci Code, which resulted in it being "a little long and stagey." This time, "Langdon doesn't stop and give a speech. When he speaks, he's in motion." Howard concurred "it's very much about modernity clashing with antiquity and technology vs. faith, so these themes, these ideas are much more active whereas the other one lived so much in the past. The tones are just innately so different between the two stories."

Differences between novel and film

In the novel, the papal conclave attracts relatively little public attention. In the wake of the huge international interest in the 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI, this was judged to be out of date, and the level of public and press interest is shown as much higher in the film. Moreover, a number of key characters are omitted or merged with each other. Cardinal Baggia, the cardinal expected to become Pope, is saved in the film, then reveals the Illuminati's hiding place to Langdon (Langdon's deduction of the location is one of the highlights of the novel) and is subsequently elected, whereas in the novel the Dean of the College Mortati (Strauss in the film) is ultimately chosen after the Camerlengo's downfall and death. Langdon and Vetra do not finish the killer off at Castel Sant'Angelo after Vetra is kidnapped by the assassin and subsequently rescued by Langdon in the movie, and the relationship which subsequently emerges is omitted as well. Kaas' character, The Assassin (Mr. Grey), is also different: in the novel, he is a Hassassin of Middle Eastern origin and sadistic in his dealings with women and the kidnapped Cardinals. In the film, however, he is of European descent and displays some remorse when executing his mission and is finally killed when a bomb goes off in the car supplied by the Camerlengo. In the film, the Camerlengo alone takes the canister of antimatter into the helicopter and then parachutes from it, while Langdon is with Vetra in St. Peter's Square. In the book, however, both the Camerlengo and Langdon take flight in the helicopter, with the Camerlengo parachuting and Langdon using the helicopter windshield cover as a parachute to descend into the Tiber River. Finally, the last branding iron, which is bestowed indefinitely to Langdon at the end of the book (and is a combination of the four elements as an ambigram, not the Vatican Seal upside-down) is replaced by Galileo's Diagramma della Verita (less the page Vetra had torn out) in the film. In the movie, the role of the Maximilian Kohler, director-general of CERN, has been entirely omitted, along with the X-33 spaceplane. Instead the invitation to Robert Langdon is sent by the Vatican. In the novel, Kohler is the one who apparently brands the Camerlengo, only to be shot dead by the guards. In the movie, this act is initially seen as perpetrated by Commander Maximilian Richter (named Rocher in the novel), subsequently, the surveillance tape shows McKenna branding himself (much to Richter's horrified amazement). The final revelation in the novel of the Camerlengo's relationship to the pope as son via artificial insemination is omitted from the film.


Shooting began on June 4, 2008 in Rome under the fake working title Obelisk. The filmmakers scheduled three weeks of exterior location filming because of a predicted 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike on June 30. The rest of the film would be shot at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, to allow for this halt. Roman Catholic Church officials found The Da Vinci Code offensive and forbade filming in their churches, so these scenes were shot at Sony. The Caserta Palace doubled for the inside of the Vatican, and the Biblioteca Angelica was used for the Vatican Library. Filming took place at the University of California, Los Angeles in July. Sony and Imagine Entertainment organized an eco-friendly shoot, selecting when to shoot locations based on how much time and fuel it would save, using cargo containers to support set walls or greenscreens, as well as storing props for future productions or donating them to charity.

Howard hated that the Writers Guild strike forced him to delay shooting the film until summer. However, the quick shoot allowed him to refine the naturalism he had employed on his previous film Frost/Nixon, often using handheld cameras to lend an additional energy to the scenes.

Hanks interrupted filming of one scene in order to help Australian bride Natalia Dearnley get through the crowds to her wedding on time. McGregor said the Pope's funeral was the dullest sequence to film, as they were just walking across staircases. Then, "Someone started singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' [and] it became the funeral theme tune."

When recreating the interior of St. Peter's Basilica, production designer Allan Cameron and visual effects supervisor Angus Bickerton recognized the 80 feet tall soundstages were only half the size of the real church. They rebuilt the area around and the crypts beneath St. Peter's baldachin, including the bottoms of the columns and Saint Peter's statue, and surrounded it with a 360 degree greenscreen so the rest could be built digitally. Cameron had twenty crew members photograph as much as they could inside the Sistine Chapel, and had artists sketch, photograph and enlarge recreations of the paintings and mosaics from the photographs. Cameron chose to present the Sistine Chapel as it was before it was cleaned up, because he preferred the contrast the smoky, muted colors would present with the cardinals. Although the chapel was built to full size, the Sala Regia was made smaller to fit inside the stage.

The Saint Peter's Square and the Piazza Navona sets were built on the same backlot; after completion of scenes at the former, six weeks were spent converting the set, knocking down the Basilica side and excavating 3½ feet of tarmac to build the fountain. As there had been filming at the real Piazza Navona, the transition between it and the replica had to be seamless. To present the Santa Maria del Popolo undergoing renovation, a police station in Rome opposite the real church was used for the exterior; the scaffolding would hide that it was not the church. Cameron built the interior of Santa Maria del Popolo on the same set as the recreated Santa Maria della Vittoria to save money; the scaffolding also disguised this. The film's version of Santa Maria della Vittoria was larger than the real one, so it would accommodate the cranes used to film the scene. To film the Pantheon's interior, two aediculae and the tomb of Raphael were rebuilt to scale at a height of 30 feet, while the rest was greenscreen. Because of the building's symmetrical layout, the filmmakers were able to shoot the whole scene over two days and redress the real side to pretend it was another. The second unit took photographs of the Large Hadron Collider and pasted these in scenes set at CERN.


Angels & Demons: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on May 22, 2009.

Hans Zimmer returned to compose the score for the sequel. He chose to develop the "Chevaliers de Sangreal" track from the end of The Da Vinci Code as Langdon's main theme in the film. The soundtrack also features violinist Joshua Bell.

Home media and different versions

The DVD was released on November 24, 2009 in several countries as a theatrical version and extended cut.

The extended cut includes violent scenes which had been cut out to secure a PG-13 rating. In the UK, the already censored US theatrical version had to be censored further in order to obtain a BBFC 12 rating. The Blu-ray includes the original theatrical version and is classified BBFC 15.


Catholic controversy

CBS News interviewed a priest working in Santa Susanna, who stated the Church did not want their churches to be associated with scenes of murder. A tour guide also stated most priests do not object to tourists who visit out of interest after reading the book, a trend which will continue after people see the film. "I think they are aware that it's, you know, a work of fiction and that it's bringing people into their churches." Grazer deemed it odd that although The Da Vinci Code was a more controversial novel, they had more freedom shooting its film adaptation in London and France. Italian authorities hoped the filmmakers corrected the location errors in the novel, to limit the amount of explaining they will have to do for confused tourists.

William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League, has not called for a boycott, but has requested that Catholics inform others about anti-Catholic sentiments in the story. "My goal... is to give the public a big FYI: Enjoy the movie, but know that it is a fable. It is based on malicious myths, intentionally advanced by Brown-Howard." A Sony executive responded they were disappointed Donohue had not created attention for the film closer to its release date. Howard criticized Donohue for prejudging the film, responding it could not be called anti-Catholic since Langdon protects the Church, and because of its depiction of priests who support science.

The official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has called the film "harmless entertainment", giving it a positive review and acknowledging that "the theme is always the same: a sect versus the Church, [but] this time, the Church is on the side of the good guys." Beforehand, it had stated it would not approve the film, while La Stampa reported the Vatican would boycott it. However, it also quoted Archbishop Velasio De Paolis as saying a boycott would probably just have the "boomerang effect" of drawing more attention to Angels & Demons and make it more popular.

In a FAQ titled Angels & Demons: from the Book to the Movie Massimo Introvigne, Director of CESNUR (Center for the Study of New Religions) points out crucial factual errors in Dan Brown's original novel and the film version. Introvigne also criticizes the Illuminati mythology that is treated as historical fact.

Banned in Samoa

In Samoa, the film was banned by principal film censor Lei'ataua Olo'apu. Olo'apu stated that he was banning the film because it was "critical of the Catholic Church" and so as to "avoid any religious discrimination by other denominations and faiths against the Church." The Samoa Observer remarked that Olo'apu himself is Catholic. The Censorship Board had previously banned the film The Da Vinci Code, for being "contradictory to Christian beliefs."

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes labeled the film "rotten", reporting that only 37% of 246 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site's general consensus is that "Angels and Demons is a fast-paced thrill ride, and an improvement on the last Dan Brown adaptation, but the storyline too often wavers between implausible and ridiculous, and does not translate effectively to the big screen." Metacritic has a rating score of 48 out of 100 based on 36 reviews.

Richard Corliss of Time magazine gave the film a positive review stating that "Angels & Demons has elemental satisfactions in its blend of movie genre that could appeal to wide segments of the audience." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film with 3 stars praising Howard's direction as an "even-handed job of balancing the scales" and claiming "[the film] promises to entertain." The Christian Science Monitor gave the film a positive review claiming the movie is "an OK action film." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a 2.5/4 stars claiming "the movie can be enjoyed for the hell-raising hooey it is." Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal gave the movie a mixed review claiming the film "manages to keep you partially engaged even at its most esoteric or absurd."

Neil Smith from Total Film gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, saying: "some of the author's crazier embellishments are jettisoned in a film that atones for The Da Vinci Code's cardinal sin "? thou shalt not bore." Kim Newman awarded it 3 out of 5 stars, stating: "every supporting character acts like an unhelpful idiot to keep the plot stirring, while yet again a seemingly all-powerful conspiracy seems to consist of two whole evil guys."

Box office

Overseas Angels & Demons maintained the #1 position for the second weekend as well even with the release of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which opened at #2. The film opened with $46 million at the domestic box office. The Da Vinci Code had opened domestically to $77.1 million, but the sequel's opening met Columbia Pictures' $40"50 million prediction, since the film's source material was not as popular as its predecessor's. Within more than a month, the film grossed $478,869,160 worldwide, making it the largest grossing film of 2009 until it was surpassed by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Of this $478 million, just over 27% of it is from domestic venues, giving the film high worldwide totals, with over $30 million in the UK, $21 million in Spain, $13 million in Brazil, $13 million in Russia, $34 million in Japan and $47 million in Germany. Angels & Demons was the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2009, with box-office figures of $485,930,810 worldwide.

See also

  • Draper–White thesis
  • Particle accelerators in popular culture

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