(at around 1h 55 mins) The movie falsely states that Priests cannot truly be elected as the Pope. However, they can be elevated to the rank of Bishop, and can therefore take office. Furthermore, every unmarried, male Catholic layman can be elected as the Pope and would then be promoted to the rank of Priest and Bishop consecutively.
(at around 2h 5 mins) When Langdon receives the Galileo-text from cardinal Strauss, the cover illustration can be clearly seen. It shows an old man under a vine-entangled elm tree, the mark of the famous modern-day publishing company Elsevier, which was founded in 1880 and is dedicated to the publication of scientific texts. Though Elsevier takes its name and mark from the old publishing house of Elzevir, which indeed existed around the time Galileo lived (and possibly published texts by him), it is not the same company and the mark on the booklet used in the film is not the original mark of Elzevir from 1620 - which would have been used on a Galileo-text from that time - but the modern adaptation used nowadays.
(at around 36 mins) In their first visit to the Vatican Archives, Robert and Vittoria are sitting the table across from one another. When Vittoria asks Robert "Do you need help with Latin?" the shadow of the boom mic is seen moving on Roberts face.
(at around 1h 50 mins) When the Camerlengo flew up in the helicopter with the bomb, Vetra was looking up at the sky like everyone else. As a physicist she should have known that looking directly into a 5 kiloton matter-antimatter explosion at that range would result in immediate and permanent blindness.
(at around 18 mins) Vetra refers to antimatter as "an extremely combustible substance". The energy released in an antimatter explosion is based on particle annihilation, not combustion, and Vetra as a physicist should surely know this.
(at around 1h 5 mins) When Langdon is in the Vatican library he passes the book he is reading over to Chartrand and asks him to look for any reference to fire. Chartrand glances at the book and mentions the word "seraphim". Directly above this is a far stronger reference to fire, "di fuoco", which actually is Italian for fire.
(at around 1h 4 mins) Inside the Vatican vault before the power is cut Chartrand struggles to breathe, Langdon suggests that because he is a smoker he cannot handle the lower oxygen levels. In fact smokers have a better tolerance to low oxygen levels than non-smokers.
Langdon states that, after the death of the Pope and before his successor is chosen, the Camerlengo becomes Head of the Holy See. While the Camerlengo does in fact become acting head of state of Vatican City, leadership of the Church is taken up by the College of Cardinals.
(at around 1 min) In the beginning of the movie, we saw the Ring of the Fisherman of the dead pope, inscribed with his name: "PIUS XVI". However, the inscription should be done in Latin style, which uses "V" instead of "U". Thus the correct inscription should read "PIVS XVI". The Latin style of writing is evident in the Ring of the Fisherman worn by real-life Pope Benedict XVI, which is inscribed "BENEDICTVS XVI".
(at around 54 mins) When searching for sculpture associated with air in St. Peter's Square, Langdon spotted the West Ponente marker on the ground and said that it could be considered a sculpture since it is a bas-relief. A bas-relief is a relief where the image is projecting out from a flat surface. The image of West Ponente marker is not projecting out, rather it was carved into a flat surface. The correct term for this type of sculpture is sunken-relief or intaglio.
(at around 1h 22 mins) When Langdon is saved by a fireman after the firefight in the church, the fireman directly starts to speak English although Langdon hasn't said a word. How does the fireman know he isn't Italian?
When viewing the footage sent by the kidnapper for the second time Langdon asks to pause it. After thinking for a while he says "Is there any more?" but he knows there is because he has already seen the footage once.
In the final scene the new Pope is preparing to step out onto the Loggia to be presented to the assembled crowd. He is wearing a mitre (headress) and a mozzetta (an elbow length cape), which is incorrect ceremonial dress for a pope or bishop.
As Langdon enters the Vatican Archives for the second time, Chartrand refers to Olivetti as "Commander Olivetti," even though he was introduced as "Captain Olivetti" earlier in the movie and Richter is supposed to be the commander of the Swiss Guard.
(at around 44 mins) When they are arriving at the church to save the first cardinal at 8:00 PM the sun is much too high in the sky for that time of day, especially when contrasted with the lighting as they exit the church later.
(at around 9 mins) While Langdon is first seen swimming you can see by the dark stripes on the bottom of the pool that he's swimming sideways, but when Vincenzi is walking besides the pool, you can see this time Langdon is following the stripes, that means he's now swimming the length of the pool.
(at around 1h 40 mins) After Richter is shot you see the gun lying several feet away from him on the rug, but when Langdon moves towards the dying man a guard passes in front of him and kicks the gun from Richter's hand.
(at around 35 mins) When Langdon and Vittoria are in the archives, there is a shot where Langdon is looking at Galileo's document with Chartrand in the background behind the glass. In the next shot where the camera is on Vittoria, Chartrand is behind her, making it not possible for Chartrand to have gotten there in such a short amount of time.
(at around 1h 7 mins) When Langdon and his guard are trapped in the Archive, the Guard initially grabs a trolley stacked with books, and runs the trolley at the glass wall. One shot shows a book starting to falling off the trolley, but the subsequent shot has the book back on the top of the trolley, secure.
The desk of Commander Richter has glass all over it when Vetra goes to retrieve the scientist's notes. When she presses on the top of the desk it has hardly any glass on it, and none of the glass fragments land on top of the notebooks.
(at around 24 mins) The camera begins a circular move around Father McKenna's office. As it passes between him and a window, the light dims on the back of his neck because the cameraman is now in the way.
(at around 3 mins) Early in the movie, the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN and behind the Alps are seen, however it is not realistic, at all. It is mentioned that they are at ATLAS experimental area, which is in Prevessin, and it is impossible to see the globe from that place. If they are at the main site of CERN, then the Alps cannot be behind the globe.
(at around 1h 40 mins) The Assassin was provided with a bail-out car, supposedly to be located on Via Giulia. The vehicle was actually parked on Borgo Sant'Angelo along the Passetto between the Vatican and Castel Sant'Angelo, which could also be seen.
(at around 9 mins) Early in the film, Langdon can be seen swimming in a pool purported on the graphic early in the scene as being at "Harvard University - Cambridge, Mass." The pool has Harvard athletic banners, but is neither the older pool in Cambridge (the "MAC") nor the newer pool, across the Charles in Boston (the Blodgett Pool). In addition, at 5:30am when he's swimming, both pools have an active collection of swimmers.
The blast from the antimatter bomb is described as about 5 kilotons. This is 1/3 of the Hiroshima blast. The thermal and radiation blast, even from several thousand feet, would have destroyed the Vatican and killed everyone below.
Parachutes are not part of the standard equipment in most helicopters. Further, experts tend to agree that it is almost impossible for the pilot of a helicopter to bail out without the helicopter going out of control.
(at around 32 mins) The sealed chambers in the Vatican Archives are said to be at a "partial vacuum", i.e. low air pressure. This is standard procedure for scientific laboratories or other locations where the goal is to stop contaminants getting out, because the low pressure ensures a constant flow of air into the room rather than back out of it. However in an archive, this would constantly draw in outside air and contaminants through any imperfect seals or the use of doorways. Real archives have a high-pressure atmosphere instead, which ensures a constant flow of air out and therefore keeps contaminants from entering. It's possible to have a low-oxygen atmosphere that still has a higher pressure than normal air.
The equipment needed to store antimatter, and the quantity produced, is inconsistent with reality. Also, the Large Hadron Collider is not a particularly important instrument in antimatter research, and antimatter research is not an important part of the LHC's goals. However it is established in dialogue immediately that the antimatter-production experiment is an unauthorized piece of research well outside of the LHC's actual mission, and that the few researchers "in on it" are creating an exceptional new method for producing large quantities of antimatter. While this is not realistic, it's deliberate and established in the movie's fictional world.
The Camerlengo is always a Cardinal and not just a priest like Father McKenna. He is part of the College of Cardinals and the conclave. Furthermore, the Camerlengo does serve as acting head of State of the Vatican City but is not responsible for the government of the Roman Catholic Church itself.
When the Cardinals are locked in the Sistine Chapel to vote for the new Pope, there is sunlight streaming into the room. In reality, sunlight is never allowed in the room and it is in fact kept in extremely low light as bright light would degrade the frescoes.
(at around 11 mins) Upon seeing the Illuminati sign, Langdon says: "Ambigram. Same, read backwards and forwards." He then flips the sign upside down to show it still looks the same. A palindrome can be read backwards and forwards, an ambigram can be read from different perspectives (in this case, right side up and upside down).
The movie incorrectly shows the Commander of the Swiss Guard having authority over the investigation, and plain clothes Swiss Guards conducting the actual searches, etc. In fact, the Vatican has its own police force, the Vatican Gendarme, which would have authority for criminal investigations and for "close-in" protection of the Pope, such as carried out by the Secret Service for the President of the United States.
(at around 1 min) In the opening scene, we see the Camerlengo destroying the ring of the recently deceased Pope. In older days, this was done to avoid the possibility of using it to seal forged documents after the death of the Pope. However, the ritual of destroying the ring in front of the College of Cardinals has not been in practice since Pope John XXIII.
(at around 13 mins) They say that there is a "Vatican jet standing by". The Vatican owns no aircraft. Vatican officials use commercial airliners. When the Pope travels he uses either an Italian airline or an airline of the country which is being visited.
Historically, the Illuminati was a post-Enlightenment sect started in Bavaria in 1776 by Adam Weishupt, 200 years after Galileo. All secret societies were banned in Bavaria by Karl Theodor in 1784. Conspiriology abounds with theories about their survival, hence the frequent use of the word "Illuminati" to refer to any sinister conspiratorial group.
The term "preferiti" is incorrect and, though it's an Italian word, it would never be used in such a context. The correct expression is "papabili", which means "apt and likely to be chosen as Pope". Furthermore, this expression "papabile" has later come to signify any person likely to be chosen : for example, if a football team owner wants to choose a new trainer the press always talks of a small group of "papabili" would-be trainers.
In the film Cardinal Strauss is referred to as the Great Elector, even if such a title doesn't exist in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church (though in the past it was a title which belonged to German Princes) . Nonetheless his role seems to be that of the Cardinale Decano, or Senior Cardinal (in the latest Conclave this title was held by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger). The Cardinale Decano can be elected as Pope like any other Cardinal: there is no need of a special permission or authorization like in the film. However it is highly unlikely that this Cardinal is elected Pope, with the notable exception of the latest Conclave in April 2005, where the Cardinals chose just the Decano, Joseph Ratzinger, to be the future Pope Benedict XVI.
At the end, when the new Pope steps out onto the balcony, he is centered on St. Peter's square, facing directly down Via della Conciliazione. In reality, this perspective would put him on top of the roof of St. Peter's basilica, not the window from where the Pope actually addresses the crowd. His perspective should actually be left of center, from his viewpoint, of St. Peter's Square. The view in the movie is about 30 degrees off from reality.
Throughout, Langdon is asking which way a statue points. Even as a Professor of Symbology, he would have to ask because the orientation of church buildings varied throughout the times. In early times many church entrances faced East while this changed during the Medieval Era and from that time the apse was commonly placed towards East. So Langdon was not able to know the direction of the statues for sure. Also he has just got off an 8 hour flight and is in a strange city, it is likely that he is disorientated.
The kidnapper's accent changes throughout the film; when we first hear his voice on the video recording he has an Italian accent, and later on in the movie switches between American and Russian. However, this makes sense for a "chameleon" who is adept at disguises.
(at around 28 mins) When Langdon and the rest first enter the Vatican Archives you see the lights go off as they are shutting off power in an attempt to locate the bomb, but as they go through the reading room the screens on the computers are still on. However, lights and mains outlets are often wired on to separate grids and it is probable that the Swiss guard were only cutting power to the lighting grids, as their goal was simply to kill the lighting around the bomb.
(at around 1h 6 mins) The Camerlengo refers to having grown up as a Catholic in "Ulster". Ulster is a province which spans both Northern Ireland (six counties) and the Republic of Ireland (3 counties). While its true many unionists (primarily Protestants) refer to Northern Ireland as Ulster, most Catholics local to Ulster would refer to Northern Ireland as the "North of Ireland", particularly the very religious ones. It is likely from his description that the Camerlengo was born in a county of Ulster located within the Republic of Ireland.
(at around 18 mins) The screen showing the Antimatter Canister has a number "0086" in the top left. Although this may suggest that the corresponding camera has a registered location and would be easy to find, the number may also simply refer to the camera itself. Because the camera sends its signal wireless, it is unlikely that the number is assigned to a specific place.
The search pattern that the Swiss Guard are using when they turn off the lights one section at a time is indeed not the most efficient; switching off half of the remaining lights at a time would be faster. However, it would also tip off the unknown kidnapper(s) - after the second time of the lights going on or off they'd probably disable the camera. By searching one-at-a-time, it is ensured that when the light in the camera room goes off, the Swiss Guard know exactly where the camera is.
(at around 13 mins) Langdon was told there is a "Vatican jet standing by", but when they are arriving to the Vatican they are in a helicopter, not a jet. However, the helicopter was simply a transfer from the airport to Vatican, as a jet cannot be landed there; neither can a helicopter fly from US to Italy.
(at around 47 mins) Langdon and the Inspector General find the first murdered cardinal at just a minute or two past eight, the time the murder is supposed to have taken place. But the murderer has already escaped the basement, and the body shows obvious signs of death having taken place long before.
(at around 1h 9 mins) When Langdon is trapped in the oxygen-depleted vault in the Vatican Archive, he tries to break a glass wall by shooting at it. The resultant impacts show the glass to be laminated safety glass. When the glass finally breaks under the weight of a cabinet it shatters into thousands of small pieces - showing that the glass is toughened safety glass.
(at around 36 mins) When Langdon and Vittoria are reading the Latin excerpts, the Latin was in perfect punctuation. However, in ancient Rome, Latin was written without punctuation (i.e. no spaces, commas, periods) or capital letters.
(at around 1h 45 mins) When the characters are in the Necropolis you can see their breath. The Necropolis is temperature/humidity controlled to protect the site. It is quite humid, but not cold. You would not be able to see one's breath.
(at around 44 mins) When Langdon is turning the lock on the first church a group of people are standing behind them in the square and someone has set of firecrackers and scared the living statue off of her pedestal and everyone is laughing. However a flock of pigeons are very close to the firecrackers and they don't react.
(at around 44 mins) When Langdon and Vittoria are about to enter Santa Maria del Popolo, it's almost 8 PM. However, the shadows of the people in the piazza are almost directly under them, meaning the scene was filmed around mid-day. When they enter the second church one hour later, it's completely dark.
Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa in Santa Maria della Vittoria is obviously a fake. The real statue lacks a base and it appears that the figural group of St Teresa and the Angel float above the altar in the Cornaro Chapel. The arrow is also pointing in a different direction to that in the actual sculpture (where it points directly at St Teresa's heart after the transverberation).
(at around 1h 35 mins) Just before the Assassin confronts Langdon and Vetra, she takes her cell phone out of her pocket. The Assassin then asks her to take it out. Her hand and phone are then back in her pocket.
During the establishing shots inside CERN, the camera booms across the Large Hadron Collider down to look through the windows of a control room. While the camera's perspective changes throughout the shot, the perspective of the control room never changes. The control room was obviously inserted in post production. There are some noticeable camera tracking errors towards the very end of the shot that make it even more obvious.
In wide shots of St. Peter's Square from atop the colonnade, light fixtures of the type commonly used in film and video are plainly visible between the statues. While this type of fixture can kick out a pretty intense light up close or in a studio, it wouldn't be very practical trying to light a large area like St. Peter's Square with them.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
(at around 1h 55 mins) When Langdon is reviewing the security camera feed in the Pope's office, the feed comes from digital cameras coming directly to the monitor. When he rewinds the feed, the sound of a VCR rewinding is made. As it's a digital feed on a computer, there should be no sound at all.
(at around 2h 5 mins) When Vittoria said that the new pope chose the name Luke, Langdon said that "there has been many (popes who are named) Marks and Johns, but never a Luke." Of all the 265 popes in Roman Catholic Church, there are indeed 25 popes with the name John, but actually only 1 named Mark, that is Pope Marcus (reigned for just 9 months in 336 AD). The name Luke in Latin is Lucas and Langdon is correct, there has been no pope named Lucas. Langdon's error is fixed in the Spanish dub of the film ("there has been one Mark and many Johns").
The Camerlengo's chest was branded with an image of crossed keys with the loops in lower position and the tips in upper position. When Langdon saw it, he said that it was "crossed keys but they are upside down". Langdon must have thought it upside down because he compared it to the crossed keys in Vatican's coat of arms, such as the one printed on Vincenzi's bag when Langdon met him at Harvard's swimming pool, which pictures the crossed key with the loops in upper position and the tips in lower position. However the real coat of arms of Vatican and all of derivative symbols for various Vatican organizations feature the crossed keys in position exactly like the one on the chest of the branded Camerlengo. It's in fact the crossed keys in the logo on Vincenzi's bag that is upside down.
(at around 1h 35 mins) When the kidnapper is speaking to Langdon and Vetra after they find the church of the Illuminati, he goes to pick up his bags from under the table. As he does this Langdon shines his torch under the table so the kidnapper can see, then immediately points it at the ground again once the kidnapper has his bags.
(at around 2h 5 mins) The dead pope in the beginning of the movie was "Pius XVI" as we saw the Ring of the Fisherman that was destroyed by Camerlengo McKenna bears his name. At the end of the movie, when Cardinal Baggia was elected the new pope and Vittoria said that he chose the papal name "Luke", the camera zoomed in to the new Ring of the Fisherman. However it's clearly shown that the inscription on the ring reads "Pius XVI". It's the same ring which belongs to the dead pope that was destroyed in the beginning of the movie.
When the antimatter "bomb" exploded in the helicopter, the shock-wave blasted off part of the roof inside St. Peter's Basilica (right on top of altar). At the end of the movie, when the Camerlengo burns himself near the altar, there were no remnants of debris and the candles were still burning.
The timer on the antimatter bomb shows just over a third full, but the time they said they have left is 7 minutes, and later "a little over 5 minutes". But when the bomb threat was made, they had about 4 hours before the bomb would explode. According to the timer they would have had only about 15 minutes before the bomb exploded, however this doesn't add up to the time they used to find the bomb.
Near the end of the movie when the explosion occurs, everyone and everything is scattered around, but when Camerello lands and everyone runs toward him the police officers all have their hats on untouched.
Flying the canister into the air will only increase the effect of the explosion. This is why nuclear weapons are designed to air-burst instead of ground-burst, because in the latter case, the earth will absorb much of the energy. A 5kt air-burst would cause much more damage than what is depicted on the screen; in addition to the kinetic shock wave, there would have been a tremendous release of thermal energy and wave of heat that would, at the very least, have given everyone in the scene third-degree burns (if not worse, such as vaporizing them outright). People would have been blinded and things on the ground would have burst into flames. The antimatter device depicted in the film is, effectively, a small nuclear weapon, deriving its energy from mass-energy conversions, just as nuclear weapons do, and it will generate the same explosive effects as a nuclear weapon (since the explosive effect is the result of the amount of energy released and is not tied to the specific nature of the weapon). The explosion depicted is simply too small, even for a weak nuclear device.
(at around 2h 5 mins) Right after the white smoke comes out of the chimney, a reporter is announcing who the newly-elected Pope is. However, that announcement ("Habemus Papam") is not made publicly until the Pope is ready to appear on the balcony.
(at around 1h 12 mins) When Vittoria and the Camerlengo open the tomb of the deceased Pope the body is in a single casket. In reality, the Pope's casket is placed in an outer casket which is then sealed within a lead container.
(at around 1h 45 mins) When Vittoria tries to change the battery on the bomb she says that batteries lose charge when they are cold. This is accurate: the chemical reactions in a battery are slower at low temperatures, and at particularly low temperatures, the electrolyte may freeze, causing the battery to completely fail. Clearly the fictional high-capacity battery in their fictional antimatter containment device is particularly sensitive to temperature drops. At high temperatures, a rechargeable battery's working lifetime may be reduced, meaning it has to be replaced sooner, but this would not adversely affect its capacity in the short term.
(at around 1h 45 mins) Helicopters take-off by means of collective pitch on the left hand side of the pilot, not using both the collective as well as the cyclic pitch. Here the padre is pulling the cyclic pitch which enables the chopper to move back, not upwards. However, this can be explained by the fact that by pulling the cyclic pitch will allow the helicopter to rise more quickly, used along with the collective to increase torque.
In the final scene, the Pope is dressed with vestments in a room with a balcony where he proceeded to face the crowds (presumably the central loggia of St. Peter's). In reality, the Pope dresses with vestments by himself, in a room in the Sistine Chapel, and the Central Loggia is a fairly far from the Sistine Chapel, and not in the same place as what is shown in the film. However, the chaos they just experienced might allow some bending of the rules.
(at around 1h 18 mins) When one of the Preferiti is burned in the church, Robert Langdon releases the chain on his left arm, and the cardinal falls into the flames, suspended by his right arm only. However, soon we see him again, behind the Assassin, and he is again suspended by both arms. In fact Langdon never completely released the Cardinal's arm: we see the chain snag again before Langdon is forced to take cover from the gunfire.
(at around 58 mins) The Canon Rules (until recently) did not allow for someone with seizures to be a priest. The Church believed the person with epilepsy to be possessed by the devil. Therefore, the Pope would not have been publicly taking anti-seizure medicine. However, the movie establishes that the Pope kept his illness a secret from all but his closest confidants (the given reason is not "Canon Rules", but there's no reason to suppose that this was not also the case).
When the container of antimatter is found deep underground, it is discovered that the temperature is very cold, apparently leaving less battery time to work with. Not unless the area is air conditioned, the deep underground area where the container is located, would be a much more temperate climate temperature wise due to the thermal properties of the surrounding earth and architecture.
(at around 2h 5 mins) After the Cardinals elect the new Pope and the crowd in St. Peter's Square sees the white smoke, the camera tilts down from the microwave dish on a TV truck, to the reporter below. The microwave dish is a fake as it lacks a feedhorn.