THE GOLDEN COMPASS

I got the books, His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman a few years ago. I think they were part of a book club – buy 10 books for a penny and then purchase 3 or 7 or 100 more over the next few months. It looked interesting so I grabbed it. Reading the books can be difficult because the author plops you down in the middle of this alternate world where people’s souls travel outside their bodies in the shape of daemons. I think, because I love sci-fi/fantasy, I accepted a lot of it at face value and it didn’t bother me that much. I know it was a little off-putting for some of my family who are reading the books now. However, I read them a few years ago, as an adult, and loved all three books in the trilogy. I have reread them a few times, the last time being this summer in preparation for the movie.

Recently, several blogs I frequent and respect have been discussing the merits of the book and where it belongs in family life. Should their children be allowed to read it? I personally don’t think many children would like it. This has nothing to do with the anti-Christianity message, or anything else cerebral. The book is too old for them and to be referred to as a children’s book is doing it a disservice. I think that children wouldn’t understand a lot of it, and therefor be bored. Young adults might enjoy it, and as my sister, Helen, pointed out that a college class would have a ball discussing this work. It draws from quite a few classics and comparisons/contrasts would be very interesting.

The anti-Christian message is fairly clear. However, I feel secure enough in my faith to read the books and not have any beliefs change. And, unfortunately, looking back through history, the Christian Church’s hands are dirty. It has tried to bully it’s way through society, using brute strength and manipulation to change people and nations to it’s way of thinking. And you know what? I feel secure enough in my faith that I can read about those atrocities and still remain true to it.

From the first time I saw a preview for The Golden Compass, I was excited to see the movie. I mean, come on, armored bears? witches? daemons? did I mention armored bears? It looked really cool from a special effects standpoint, and even better seeing how much I enjoyed the books. Then I started reading reviews of the movie on other people’s blogs which were less than stellar. So then I started getting worried. Would I be disappointed? I waited til last night to see it a) because my movie buddies were finally free, and b) because I hate going to that kind of movie on opening night due to the teenager hangout atmosphere that exists at my local movie theater. By waiting 5 days, I got to see the movie with almost no one in the theater (not good for the profits but oh so nice for me). And I loved it. The special effects lived up to my expectations. The girl (Dakota Blue Richards) they have for Lyra is amazing. And Nicole Kidman was fantastic. She plays cool and serene so well, but she definitely showed her iron core here. The daemons were wonderful. The kids’ animals, switching in mid-stride (as they should) were perfect. Lord Asriel’s tiger was SO COOL! However, I thought Mrs. Coulter’s golden monkey was stiff – almost like the mechanical organ grinder’s monkey. That was the only one I didn’t like. And can I tell you, when Gandalf’s (Ian McKellan) voice comes out of the bear Iorek Byrnison, I actually got goosebumps!

The movie ends a little before the book does, leaving out a rather key sequence. However, it’s just prepping us for the next book in the series, The Subtle Knife. And I’ve got to say, if the Catholic/Christian church have a problem with The Golden Compass, wait til the next ones come out – it only goes down hill from here. My recommendation – go see the movie. Make up your own mind. Better yet, read the book first because, as with many books, the movie makers couldn’t fit everything into the movie and if you’ve already read the book, your mind fills in things subconsciously (or at least mine does) so that I never feel like something’s been left hanging.

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One Response to “THE GOLDEN COMPASS”

  1. painted maypole Says:

    thanks for this thoughtful and honest analysis.i have not read nor seen this, but am curious.

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