To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: 21 May 2006
The movie The Da Vinci Code was yesterday banned by the Ministry of Justice’s censors.
It came after church leaders watched the movie in the morning and strongly objected to it being shown in Samoa.
Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga, of the Catholic Church, and Reverend Fa’apaia Fa’apaia Tariu, of the Congregational Christian Church in Samoa, represented the National Council of Churches.
They saw The Da Vinvi Code with the censors in a special screening at Magik Cinemas, Savalalo.
The movie had been due to begin screening on Friday to coincide with its worldwide launch. But this was stopped on instructions from the ministry’s Censorship Division. It said the movie would be censored after National Council of Churches representatives viewed it and gave their opinion.
The movie staring Tom Hanks is based on a bestselling novel of the same name by American author Dan Brown. There have been calls around the world by some catholic and other Christian groups for the Da Vinci Code to be banned or boycotted. This is due to its themes especially that claiming that Jesus Christ had children with Mary Magdalene and their blood line continues.
Archbishop Alapati said if the Da Vinci Code was shown in Samoa it would affect the lives of very sensitive people, like the younger generation and those weak in faith.
He said this would cause confusion within the Christian lives of the Samoan people and the church leaders could not afford to make this mistake. “If only the movie was based on the true gospel, then I think it would not be so bad,” he said
However the picture swerved away from the truth of the Gospel and what Samoa’s belief in what Christianity is about.
He said the Council of Churches representatives were only there to give advice about the picture, but the final decision was with the censors.
Reverend Fa’apaia supported the archbishop supported the archbishop’s view that the movie will influence and challenge the spiritual faith of Samoan people.
“To show this picture would be an insult not only in our faith, but especially the Catholic Church,” said Reverend Fa’apaia.
“I feel sorry for how the Catholic Church is jeopardised in this way.”
However, Magik Cinemas owner Maposua Rudolf Keil said that there is nothing wrong with the picture because people know and believe that it’s based on fiction. Maposua said there isn’t any reason why the movie should not be shown to the public.
“This is a great movie,” said Maposua. “There is also a great lesson in it and people should have the chance to decide for themselves.”
“I myself am a Christian and I think this picture will not make any difference to who I am as a Christian,” said Maposua.
Maposua had made a big effort to get the movie to premiere here at the same time as it goes on show around the world. Ministry of Justice Chief Executive Masinalupe Tusipa Masinalupe said that there seems to be confusion on how people are reacting to why this movie has to be censored.
It follows the movie being previously advertised in newspapers and on radio. Masinalupe said the censorship division had only been informed on Wednesday, and at the office made arrangements for viewing yesterday.
This was so that the Council of Churches would also be available for its screening and to give their opinion. “I’d just like to point out that the Censorship Division did not say, nor by any chance the Prime Minister, had given the ok to screen this movie,” Masinalupe said.
Masinalupe said the owners of video shops and Magik Cinemas know that every picture that is brought into the country has to be censored.
“Any film or picture that has a negative impact on people’s lives would not be considered by this department as safe and appropriate”.
“This Ministry is responsible for many lives that will be affected if we do not do our duty,” Masinalupe said. Before the church leaders saw the movie there had been less strong opposition from other church, people interviewed. Tualasea Puletini Tuala, of the Catholic Church at Fetu o le Moana at Mulivai, said:
“To me, as a Christian I think the portrayal of the movie is kind of sad.”
“Although it is entertainment it can influence and challenge the views of people and their upbringing and grounding in the faith.
‘This is an opportune time for us as a people to step out in faith and evangelise and not feel pity. Dan Brown is entitled to his opinion through the movie.”
“I disagree that we should prohibit people from seeing the movie, that’s too shallow. People must keep in mind the movie is entertainment and we must be very open-minded about that.”
Tualasea believes this is an ideal time now for local pastors in all churches to start talking and clarifying issues to “the flock”.
This is about matters in relation to their faith and to deepen and enlighten their understanding in relation to “media entertainment”.
“This is not the first controversial movie that has hit the big screen and come under the spotlight,” he said.
“What matters is that people must be strong and firm in their faith and have an open mind”
Reverend Dr Paulo Koria, secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, said earlier that he had not read the book but was due to review the movie.
He was confident it would not “change the minds of Christians and hinder their faith.”
“This is a free country and freedom of speech in the form of the movie is permitted,” he said
“For me, I don’t know the authenticity of the author but it doesn’t take away the foundation and grounding of Christians beliefs of people and what is written in the bible.”
Rev Koria disagreed with ideas portrayed in the movie, including the alleged relationship Jesus had with Mary Magdalene.
He said if it is not written in the scriptures there is no authority and truth in it.