May 17, 2006

Thai appeal restores “Da Vinci Code” cuts

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thais will be able to see the
unexpurgated version of the controversial movie "The Da Vinci
Code" after a successful appeal on Wednesday against a censor's
order that the last 10 minutes be sliced off.

"The panel voted six to five to keep the movie as it is,"
James Dhiraputra of Buena Vista International told reporters
after the appeal board of the police-run censors in the largely
Buddhist country watched the film.

The panel ordered the distributor to paste disclaimers at
the beginning and end of the movie stating that it was fiction
after Christian groups protested against its thesis that Jesus
Christ married Mary Magdalene and had children, he said.

A member of one group said he was saddened by the narrow
decision on a movie suggesting Jesus had established a dynasty
which the Roman Catholic Church stopped at nothing to try to
cover up.

"We respect the ruling," said Thongchai Pradabchananurat,
chairman of the Protestant Coordinating Committee. "We have
already expressed our feelings in this case and we will just
have to forgive."

The groups, however, have printed 100,000 leaflets to hand
out to people going to see it pointing out what they say are
inaccuracies in the movie.

The successful appeal on the eve of its Thai premiere ended
the threat that the movie might not be shown at all in a
country of 63 million people with only about 1 million
Christians and 6 million Muslims, who also regard Jesus as a

A distributor of Hollywood director Ron Howard's film
version of the Dan Brown bestseller had said it would not bow
to the original order to cut the final 10 minutes.

"The message from the producer is clear that we won't chop
the film," Arm Charoensiri of Sony Pictures Releasing
International told Reuters before the appeal.

Calls by the Vatican to boycott the movie and a boom in
religious publishing aimed at debunking the novel have given
studio Sony Pictures the kind of publicity money can't buy.