"Golden Compass" pulls punch out of Pullman's attack on church
#1
I have never read His Dark Materials, although a number of people had suggested to me through the years that it might appeal to me because of my interest in Tolkien. However, based on what I've heard about the series, I don't think it would appeal to me at all.


Religion row hits Pullman epic



Dark Materials movie softens book's attacks on Catholic church

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday October 14, 2007
The Observer


One of the key religious themes of Philip Pullman's award-winning series of children's novels, His Dark Materials, has been watered down to appeal to a wider audience in the new Hollywood film version of the first book. The original story's rejection of organised religion, and in particular of the historic abuse of power in the Catholic Church, has been altered to avoid offending followers of the faith in the UK and in America.

The film, which stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, is called The Golden Compass after the American title of Pullman's novel Northern Lights and has followed his magical narrative very closely in most respects. The characterisation of the sinister organisation known as the Magisterium has, however, been changed, so that the film will now appear to be a more general attack on dogmatic authorities of every kind.

Northern Lights, the book which first introduced readers to Pullman's 12-year-old heroine, Lyra, is as dear to its many fans as JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and JK Rowling's Harry Potter saga, so tampering with the philosophical content is not likely to be welcomed when the film is released before Christmas.

While Pullman himself has said he believes 'the outline of the story is faithful to what I wrote, given my knowledge of what they have done', the National Secular Society - of which the author is an honorary associate - has now spoken out against the changes.

Read the full article here

We have more information about the controversy in our Nicole Kidman Forum.




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#2
I think that it is a shame, if true, but not exactly a surprise.

These are, supposedly children's books, althogh you would have to say for an older child than Harry Potter's target audience for instance. When things get translated to film there is usually a fair amount of watering down, especially when trying to capture big blockbuster status that this film is aiming for. Also, a lot of subtext is lost as the plot that drives the movie takes centre stage.

I don't really see the problem, however, given that this is an alternate reality. Why shouldn't the Catholic church be all powerful and corrupt? When we see Will's world in book two - our world - there is no such situation. Other films have portrayed worlds where Hitler won, for example. It's all about what ifs - different choices leading to different events and different outcomes across parrallell worlds.

Also, not sure what they will do about the final battle with the Authority if they remove the religious aspects by the time we come to number 3 in the series.
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#3
Pullman is known in Britain as the "antiLewis" for his disparagement of the Narnia series and deliberate attacks on Lewis. You may google to confirm.

Pullman thinks all religion is equally evil and holds mankind back, PERIOD.

His attack on the church could equally be an attack on Islam and probably would be if he had that cultural background. His grandfather was an Anglican clergyman, so PP goes with what he knows.

There was rank speculation that Philip Pullman may have been the model for Gilderoy Lockhart in the HP series.

I have not been able to get into the series and cannot comment on the books other than what Pullman is noted to have said in interviews which I have read.

One might see how a studio might not wish to give offence to a possible market of 1/6 the world's population, but I'm banking on them using this as a mrketing tool in the Western culture since it could provide free publicity from Catholics and fundamentalists. You know that old line about there is no such thing as bad publicity et alia.

And, if you have read the comments of actors in Narnia:LWW you know that they inserted modifiers into Aslan's dialogue after the Stone Table to mitigate the clearly Christian reference. The actress playing the White Witch was most verbal about it.

So Pullman is not getting any "special" cutting or addition. This is Hollywood, guys. ALWAYS read the book. Never trust the movie version of any book.
inked
"Aslan is not a tame lion. Safe?
No, he's not safe, but he's good."
CSL/LWW
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#4
I think the profound anti-religion bent of the trilogy is not as obvious in the first book, although it's been awhile since I read it. By the third book he is whacking you over the head with it, and the fact that the Magisterium resembles the Catholic Church hardly seems to matter. As Inked said, any religion involving a deity takes a hit by the end.

Having said that, reading something so irreverent can be refreshing for those of us schooled on Narnia (and now with JK going on about religion in HP...oi veh).

If they chicken out on book one how are they ever going to end the series, unless they don't plan to finish it?
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#5
Finally got to see the movie this weekend.

Ultimately I was left feeling let down. Maybe I did the wrong thing in re-reading the book quite recently, because the film merely scratches the surface of the story.

Good points first of all. The young lady playing Lyra does a fab job, as does Nicole Kidman. Daniel Craig is brief but impressive as Asriel. Some of the set piece action scenes are very well done - the fight between the two bears and the end battle are both very good.

However... the film ploughs fowards at great speed, but it seems often that the plot and the story are missing, or at least only hinted at. The central theme of people's relationships with their daemons is not, IMO, adequately realised. So you feel that, for example, Pan is simply Lyra's talking pet, rather than a physical part of her. This only serves to lessen the impact of finding the severed Billy Costa for instance, and even the scene where Lyra is subjected to the intercission procedure does not hold the dramatic impact it should.

The story leaps from situation to situation, location to location without devoting enough time to properly establish relationships that are Lyra's motivations. Things happen out of order from the story in the book. Certain characters' stories are changed for no apparent reason - the reason for Iorek's exile for example. There is not one mention of the Aurora. The film ends before the story ends.

In all, it just seems rushed. Getting back to the thread itself, I don't think it's a question of the Magesterium being toned down or made un-religious. I just don't think that the whole question of it's real purpose, like lots of other important aspects of the story, got the screen time it deserved.
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