by Christopher Hodapp
Earlier this week, NBC/Universal released the first preview for Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (formerly known as Langdon; formerly known as Dan Brown's Langdon) airing on their Peacock streaming service later this year. Based on the 2009 novel and Da Vinci Code sequel by Brown, the Masonic-themed story was one of the most hotly anticipated books in the publishing business. More than 1 million copies of The Lost Symbol were sold world-wide on the very first day when it was eventually released in 2009. But the long delay between his blockbuster books convinced the rest of the publishing and entertainment world to try to cash in on Brown-mania during the lull. The 2004 hit movie, National Treasure, never would have seen the light of day had Brown not let the cat out of the bag that his next Big Book would be about Freemasons in Washington, D.C., but took six years to actually publish it. For that matter, most of my earliest books would never have been published, either. Certainly not by mainstream publishers.
The Lost Symbol was the third novel to feature Brown's 'symbologist' character, Robert Langdon, who was portrayed by Tom Hanks in three big-budget, theatrical movies. This pilot film was initially planned to air on the NBC broadcast network, but now the subsequent series will be a flagship show for the fledgling Peacock pay streaming service, instead.
The original story line of the novel has been shifted to occur before The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons. Ashley Zuckerman (from Designated Survivor) portrays symbologist Robert Langdon shortly after his graduation from Harvard (and much younger than Tom Hanks' version in three previous theatrical films of Brown's novels). Langdon must solve a twisted mystery to save his university mentor, Peter Solomon (played by comedian and actor, Eddie Izzard) and prevent a mysterious nemesis from unleashing terrible destruction on Washington, D.C.
Brown's plot in The Lost Symbol revolved around many Masonic clues and landmarks in Washington, including the Scottish Rite SJ's House of the Temple headquarters. Masons everywhere enjoyed the novel and the public spotlight it brought to the fraternity, but were disappointed when Hollywood passed over it as a big-money picture to make Inferno instead. Because of certain plot points, the story as written wasn't exactly visually promising, since easily 20% of the story takes place in total darkness.
Unfortunately, there are no Masonic references or symbols onscreen in the trailer (although one sequence shows Langdon discovering a 'Chamber of Reflection' hidden deep in the basement under the U.S. Capitol building). However, I have it on good authority that Freemasonry is well represented in the film – or at least it was shot that way. We'll see how much survives the editorial process. A long production shutdown due to the pandemic last year put the crew and the whole project on ice for months. The show was largely shot in Canada, and yes, the crew actually reproduced the Capitol dome's rotunda and Statuary Hall on a soundstage. I haven't heard whether they also reproduced the Scottish Rite's House of the Temple, or of it even made it into the script.