Thursday, August 24th 2017

The Golden Compass: A Christmas movie scandal

Why New Line Cinema and Warner glossed over the dark side of Philip Pullman’s trilogy

movie posterBY PAUL KAIHLA —  The $180-million Hollywood blockbuster opened Hollywood’s 2007 Christmas season with the marketing slogan: “One small child can save the world.”

But the book it’s based on, the first in a fantasy trilogy called His Dark Materials, was released in 1996 with a slightly more sinister air.

The author, a stuffy 61-year-old Brit named Philip Pullman, is a celebrated anti-Christian crusader. The heroine in His Dark Materials, for example, is not on a mission from God but allied with forces out to kill God.

As the Atlantic Monthly lays out in an exhaustive exposé in its December issue, the Time Warner studio that’s releasing this film, New Line Cinema, scrubbed all of the anti-religious references from the script  — and sanitized it for all of the bible-thumpers in America.

If you want a movie with mystical aspirations  — and more integrity or resonance  check out our Christmas shopping list of our favorite spiritual flicks.

From the studio’s mouth: the Golden Compass comb-over, marketing blurb . . .

The film tells the first story in Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. The Golden Compass is an exciting fantasy adventure, set in an alternative world where people’s souls manifest themselves as animals, talking bears fight wars, and Gyptians and witches co-exist.

Pullman shamelessly mines Nordic shamanic culture. For example, the Finnish folklore epic, The Kalevala, is full of bear charms — and famously, a bear dispatched by an evil Lapp witch as an assassin.

Pullman’s work also stands on the shoulders of trilogies written decades earlier, like The Lord of the Rings and Dune, yet he craps on those works from a great height in interviews.

Some reviewers have suggested that The Golden Compass is “brainier” than those books. Hey, if you want a brainy benchmark in this genre, how about Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation trilogy?

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5 Comments on “The Golden Compass: A Christmas movie scandal”

  1. I can't wait to see it myself! What a picture of Kidman!

  2. Didn't people say the same things about Harry Potter? It seems like every book that kids enjoy is going to "lure" them into atheism or turn them into necromancers!

  3. I read the story in the Atlantic and thought the whole issue was overblown. Religious beliefs are set by the family, not by a book--no matter how good it is.

  4. i'm looking forward to seeing the computer generated fighting polar bears (sadly soon that is the only place we are going to see PBs with this nasty old global warming happening).

    as for banning the book in libraries and schools, we all know where that leads. ever heard of a little something i like to call "nazi germany?"

  5. Don't you think the media overblow the influence such movies have? Do you remember the tempest in a teacup over The Passion back in 2004? It's ridiculous to believe that one movie can either erase--or compensate for--week after week in church on Sunday.

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