The Golden Compass

What Is It?

Philip Pullman‘s well written Neo-Nietzschean fantasy trilogy is swept up into production, as New Line Cinema hopes to find the next Lord of the Rings style film, and income.

The series begins with Lyra, (Dakota Blue Richards) a 12 year old orphan girl living at a prestigious boarding school in a parallel universe to ours, where architecture and fashion are a mix of sci-fi and the 40’s. In this world, a person’s sole does not live in them, but stays near them in an animal form called a daemon. Lyra’s daemon can change it’s form because she is still a child and her soul has not settled, but an adult daemon is constant.

How Was It?

It was a well crafted story, but the presentation suffered in comparison to almost everything it begs to be compared too. This is not as good as the book. Much of the mystery is gone when an added opening monologue reveals that we are in a parallel universe, and many other things that are not explained right away in the book. The universe concept is not fully revealed until the second book. The opening Monologue is also done by a woman with a deep voice and English accent. This reveals that the links to Lord of the Rings run deeper than the ad campaign. There were a few parts where they used film short hand that was taught to us in Lord of the Rings. Instead of developing the witches they are just a race like Middle Earth’s elves. The talking animals hearken to Narnia, but not the special effects. Outside of the Bears, most animals are off screen or looking the other way when they talk. I’m sure this was because the few times we are allowed to see it, their mouths do not totally line up. The little girl at the center will also bring thoughts of Lucy of Narnia and Harmonie of Harry Potter. This comparison puts them in good with Narnia, and for all it’s faults, unlike the Potter films, this is not long and dull.

This story was compelling and made you want to know what was next. When I read the book, the idea of a little girl riding an armored polar bear (ice bear) was thrilling to me. To see it, despite occasionally looking like a Coke commercial, was just as thrilling. The bear, voiced by Gandalf/Magneto actor Ian McKellen, is the best part of this film.

Is it good for Kids?

It was made for kids. The PG-13 rating is well deserved, but mature children could handle the action. There are a lot of children in peril, but the only truly disturbing shot (spoiler) is when one Armored Ice Bear slaps the others jaw off and into the camera. Still even this is done so fast, and covered so quickly, that it’s more about the disturbing idea than the visual. If they could handle Spider man 3 or Narnia, this will not be a problem. Happily, despite the posters, We do not get revealing shots of the two prominent women in the film.

You can check Screenit.com for a break down of everything on the screen.

The actual issue here, as with many of these films, is…

What About Spiritual Issues?

This movie is based on a trilogy entitled “His Dark Materials.” The name comes from a line about Satan in the book “Paradise Lost” by Milton. There are many references in the book to Milton and even quotes from him at the beginning of most chapters. This is to point out author Philip Pullman‘s opposite Thesis. Milton wrote to explain to men why they should follow the rule of God. Pullman wrote to teach children why they should not.

All these references and more were removed when New Line Cinema required that all references to God and Religion be kept out of the movie. They thought it would alienate a great part of their audience. Unfortunately, with that cunning move, and all the hype about how anti-Christian this film is, many people will watch it and leave thinking “That was a good movie, what was the big deal.”

The problem is that all the arguments against following God and the Church are still in the film. They have discussions about not following rules. We are taught that agency’s that say they want to teach you how to act are actually misguided megalomaniacs who want to literally cut the souls out of children. This would be like having a movie where only the evil people ate food, only the evil people were fat, and we learn that you can never be too skinny and should take any action possible to achieve that goal and then saying, “It’s OK, we took out all references to Anorexia.”

(Spoiler) We also have a weird look at sexuality. Most of the characters and world views are paralleled, as in this example; We learn that Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) is Lyra’s mother. She was not married to the father, so it was against the rules to keep her own baby. Here we have the evil system destroying lives in the name of family values. In contrast to this, we have a witch, Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green) pointing out to Lyra that the head of the Gyptian’s had been her lover. She then explains that witches age much slower, so they were an item back when he was “young and beautiful.” (Of course, if a man had said this about a woman it would be shocking and horrible, but this way it comes off romantic.)

What Is Your Recommendation?

As a film, this movie is watchable and as morality, this movie is damnable. Still without the direct connections to the church made for us, the message is identical to the “rules are not for me” messages of the Harry Potter films.

There are worse films out there, but if you, or your kids miss this one, you are not missing much. Save your $7.50 and stay home with Narnia. It has all the same fantasy elements but on a higher scale of excellence, with a message you will want to endorse.

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One Response to “The Golden Compass”

  1. His Dark Materials Trilogy: The Golden Compass / The Subtle Knife / The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman « Questionentertainment’s Weblog Says:

    […] Questionentertainment’s Weblog 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. (NLT) « The Golden Compass […]

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