Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Turning to - away from? - the Golden Compass

We saw the film The Golden Compass on Monday, our every other year film outing at Christmas time in our little local theater. The last time we went it was Narnia, and these two films make an interesting comparison. In both cases we have wars of good and evil and lots of charming animals, though I thought the characters in Compass were generally more selfish other than the exiled prince of armored bears -- Iorek -- who acts with more dignity and honor and compassion and selflessness than the rest. In reading the plot of the book(originally called) Northern Lights versus the film on Wikipedia, it becomes clearer why some people are protesting the film/book as an attack on religion, especially Catholicism. See ABC News item. Wikipedia claims that the British author Phillip Pullman is an atheist.

An office colleague yesterday told me that she believed that the author Pullman hated CS Lewis (author of Narnia) and created a plot where the children destroy God. I must say I didn't get a notion of children out to get God from the film (though it's only part 1 of a trilogy). However, I did notice that the evil organization, The Magisterium, showed resemblances to the Vatican. But what seems illogical about the protest is that the Magisterium wants to remove free will whereas I always thought that Christianity was founded on the notion that God gives people free will.

ABC news has its own long blog conversation . And check out Technorati which lists 19,076 blog posts on the topic. Many bloggers refered to Phillip Pullella's article from Reuters today (?) on the Vatican's statement about the film. Says Pullella:
"In Pullman's world, hope simply does not exist, because there is no salvation but only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events," the editorial said.
Now, on this point I agree (rare to agree with the Vatican!) because after the film I said, all the characters are so selfish, whereas in Narnia, there is much more effort to help and give to others.


Blogger Miss Marjie said...

The books are a bit more detailed than the movie, and it makes it easier to see why discussion is being had over the "killing god" idea and selfishness. I thought Lyra's attempts to save the children anything but selfish, considering she could have chosen to join up with her mother and the Magesterium (though her desire not to get separated from her daemon is selfish, it is a desire to retain her soul, so I probably would let that one slide). I read an interesting article a couple years ago regarding His Dark Materials and a book written about the series by a British Christian Cultural Critic (not even sure what that is). Pullman is quoted as saying his books are about killing god, and when taken as a whole, the plot does point in that direction. Considering that there are so many ways to view "god" in that statement as well as in the books, I don't find it all too alarming. And I think children in general will just enjoy what a great read the series is. Here's a link to the article in publisher's weekly if you're interested:

3:51 PM  
Blogger Sara Jameson said...

She wants to save the children - and does save them - but to me it seems not as much from altruism or compassion as it is from her excitement, adventure, and an opportunity to show off and be a hero.

4:40 PM  

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