The Golden Compass

2008-02-13 13:10
What it's about:

In a world ruled by the fascist Magisterium, Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) is a little girl with an enquiring mind who finds herself caught up in a strange plot to kidnap children involving the enigmatic Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) who has sinister plans for her. She escapes Coulter's clutches and sets off on a quest to find the children, and discovers the truth behind the kidnappings.

What we thought of it:

The Golden Compass looks to be the epic fantasy film of the summer, and it's certainly received a lot of hype, both for it's enchanting story and its supposed ant-religious tones. It's a much riskier proposal than The Lord of the Rings and Narnia, both of which have had more than 50 years to sink into our collective unconscious. So how does it fare against those movies, and Harry Potter?

The good news is that despite a few flaws, The Golden Compass delivers magnificently on the entertainment side, and contrary to the hype there's nothing remotely anti-Christian. There are superficial similarities to LOTR and Narnia, and even a nod to Star Wars, but the story makes all the difference. It's a complex and sometimes confusing world that packs in politics, magic, alternate dimensions, Victorian sci-fi, and most importantly it is well thought out mythology with the background detail to make the world come alive.

Some parts of the film felt a little rushed, and as with many film conversions of long books, the character development suffered. Too little screen time given to Sam Elliot's charismatic cowboy pilot and the mysterious Gyptian clan, although Lyra is wonderful and Nicole Kidman oozes barely contained venom as Mrs. Coulter.

Another integral part of the story that was quickly glossed over was the strange dust, which only gets a mention at the outset even though it is the reason for the quest, and has much to do with the missing children. I would've preferred a little more detail in places and perhaps a longer running time, because there were many scenes that left me itching to know more about this mythical world.

The Golden Compass should satisfy the kids as well as those looking for epic fantasy. It holds its own against Narnia and there are enough new ideas to set it apart from the tried and trusted fantasy epic formula. It's not perfect by any means, but it's spectacular, imaginative and could be the start of a great cinematic trilogy. Recommended.

- Ivan Sadler
Lyra and her animal daemon Pan embark on an epic adventure to find her kidnapped friends.

Tony 2007/12/08 9:49 AM
Why can't a movie be Anti-christian? Apart from the idiocy that most people who accuse the movie of being 'anti-christian' haven't even seen it, my question is: Why on earth can't there be a movie that does challenge the supernatural and destructive nonsense that is religion? Am I supposed to heave a sigh of relief that the movie is sanitized and 'safe' ? Why are these religous nuts not being told to mind their own business? Then again, these are the same fools who burn Harry Potter books because they 'promote witchcraft'. This is 2007, people! Can we not tell the difference between fantasy and ideology? Bring on the anti-christian films! Let's celebrate rational thinking and protect children from the pervasive lies that religion espouses!
Alicia 2007/12/10 7:09 AM
How to kill God in a Childrens story The Golden Compass and the Atheists, and More on the Golden Compass: "My books are about killing God."), you may have came away with the impression that I believe Christians should not bother to see this movie, and should not support it with their money. You better believe I wanted you to have that impression! I believe that we should not bother to watch the movie because of conscience, and that we need to protect our children from the sadistic desire of a man who wants to kill God in a children's story. But I do understand that some folks may feel that I was too one-sided and even intolerant. Time will tell
Robert 2007/12/10 7:54 AM
Snore! Sadly despite having a great concept this fails to really deliver. I guess it's a case of big names... big bangs... and little else. Although I can't say that I hated the movie I won't be holding my breath for the others. I have however decided to read the book.
Ivan 2007/12/10 8:16 AM
Tony & Alicia I merely mentioned that this film did not contain anything rabidly anti-christian, because of the all the hype it had been receiving due it supposedly being so subversive - if people were really that worried, why wasn't there such an outcry about the books? It's a good kid's holiday movie, and you shouldn't be afraid to take your kids to see it - they see far more corrupting stuff every day on TV anyway.... Alicia - if you want to judge before you've seen the movie, then you're worse than Hitler.
wendy 2007/12/10 9:02 AM
good review loved the books- but have not yet seen the movie, thanks for a fair and balanced review- as soon as all the kids have seen it and the cinemas are free of the little people ill be there!
Cassandra 2007/12/10 9:03 AM
Make informed choices For those who don't know this movie is based on the first book of a trilogy by atheist Philip Pullman. In the final book a boy and girl kill God so they can do as they please. Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that "My books are about killing God in the minds of children" and that he was "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief". He also described Christianity in the books as " a very powerful and convincing mistake". He stated his intentions were for children to read the books and decide against God and the kingdom of heaven. The movie is a watered down version of the first book. It is entirely up to the parent to choose whether this is suitable viewing for their children, but at least be informed of the key anti-God theme that the movie is promoting. By the way, there was a huge outcry about the books at the time.
Jerry 2007/12/10 9:42 AM
Definate No-No Having read the mentioned reviews, I am of the opinion that no purpose with regard to the "killing of God" should be supported, by either spending time reading the books, or watching the movie. Our children are so easily influenced by what they see and hear, and television is playing a big part, I agree. As parents we are in a position to screen what our children watch on TV, why want to deliberately show them something which will undermine their belief in God, the only real truth.
Jim 2007/12/10 9:44 AM
Christians should make an informed decision Pullman's message is one of hate speech, bigotry, and intolerance toward Christianity. Please tell me; why should anyone expose their children to this type of work and influence? The issue is not viewing the movie to check out it's message, the issue is that we know about the message already. The cat is already out of the bag, if you will. It's pretty clear where he is coming from. I cannot emphasize this more. He has a sadistic desire to kill God in a child's story, and he wants to undermine a child's Christian faith. You are not intolerant when you refuse to view and read something that attacks you, your belief, and is intolerant in itself. Why would a Christian want to see this movie, read the books, and have their children do the same? Would you expect a Holocaust survivor watch a movie denying the atrocity? Would you want a Buddhist watch a movie about blowing up Buddha? A Moslem watch a movie killing Allah? What if the hero in the story burst into a Hindu temple and
Abe 2007/12/10 10:13 AM
Kill God? OK, I admit, I have't read the books. But the movie is great. It had nothing to do with God as far as I could tell. It had to do with finding the kids and doing away with a government that doesn't allow anyone to think for themselves. It was just a good night out watching an enjoyable movie. And after seeing the movie, I would like to read the books. I challenge anyhone out there who thinks this movie is all about killing God to go see it. You might just change your pint of view.
Alicia 2007/12/10 10:26 AM
Ignorant no more or sheep to the slaughter 1) Atheists are asking to give the movie a chance, since it's not even out yet. 2) There are Christians who say not to freak out and that if you bring your children up right, they won't fall for the crap that is out there. Besides, it's just children's entertainment. 3) That we shouldn't cause a stir, because we don't want to give the movie any free publicity. Let me first start by saying this is a very unique situation. It is not as if we have a movie inspired by a book written by an atheist that was so subtle in it's message, and that we need to be careful not to judge it incorrectly. And it is not as though the author has been tight lipped as to the inspiration and meaning behind the story. "My books are about killing God." (The Sydney Morning Herald 2003). "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief," (Baptist Press 2007).
James 2007/12/10 10:33 AM
What do you mean, "Kill God"? God doesn't even exist, so how can you kill him?
Christian 2007/12/10 10:40 AM
Investigate.. I pity you, James. I can only pray that God doesn't deny you as you do Him.
Pinvictor 2007/12/10 11:25 AM
God If God is so clever, how come he's dead?
Pinvictor 2007/12/10 11:30 AM
God If God is so clever, how come he's dead?
Goda 2007/12/10 11:35 AM
You Give God a Bad Name (sung to the tune of that Cheese classic, Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name"), dedicated to all the people who object to criticism of Christianity. Please feel welcome to enter the age of enlightenment. It began a few hundred years ago...
Ivan 2007/12/10 11:36 AM
Oh dear sweet Alicia If you are secure in your faith, surely you would be able to listen to a story told be an aetheist, take from it what you will, and decide what you disagree with. Why aren't all these christians ever going on about Jewish and Moslem storytellers for disagreeing with them? Face it, as a Christian, the only people you can safely criticise are minorities like aetheists....I guess this makes Philip Pullman a bit like brave Esther in standing up for what he believes in when all the closed minded people are baying for his blood because some far removed authority figure overseas told them to.
Leilani 2007/12/10 11:55 AM
The Golden Compass I went to see the movie yesterday, just to see what all the fuss is all about. People are sending this e-mail around suggesting that this movie should be boiketed - how can you decide to boikot a movie just because some people found it offensive? Why not make an informed decision for yourself? I found the movie to be very entertaining. Like it is in the real world - there is a battle between good and evil. If you really want to dissect the movie - Why do you think that the government symbolises God? Surely we worship a loving God who allows us to think for ourselves and do not restrict us to His way of thinking - as the government in the movie does. Why can Lyra not symbolise Jesus? Lyra seems to be the saviour. Watch movies for what they are - entertainment and stop dissecting them. Watch it as if you are still a child - check out the special effects etc. I can not wait to get my hands on the books. I'd like to know how the story ends.
Alicia 2007/12/10 12:08 PM
I listened to a story from an Atheist !! Dear Ivan.. This debate is about the movie "The Golden Compass" The Christian and Athesit debate is a whole new discussion. As for the movie. THe author very honestly and openly admits his intentions for this movie. Phillip Pullman has been very open about the inspiration and meaning of his books. Remember that he is very proud to share his message with us. (Though by what I have read he has toned it down lately, they do want to sell tickets you know). And he is very open about his inspiration for his trilogy, "His Dark Materials:" Here is a quote from The Daily Telegraph website: (tp:// "The novelist has said they are in response to C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia," the popular children's fantasy series of which "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is the first book written by Lewis to teach Christian ideals to kids. "I loathe the Narnia books," Pullman has said in previous press interviews. "I hate them with a deep an
Jim 2007/12/10 12:14 PM
Comments by the Author "My books are about killing God." (The Sydney Morning Herald 2003). "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief," (Baptist Press 2007). The trilogy makes the Church and God out to be the real evil bad guys in the story. (If you want more information on the story itself, please read, More on the Golden Compass: "My books are about killing God"). Pullman's message is one of hate speech, bigotry, and intolerance toward Christianity. Please tell me; why should anyone expose their children to this type of work and influence? The issue is not viewing the movie to check out it's message, the issue is that we know about the message and we know about the author. The Christians are the one who need to make the educated decision here.
Tilly 2007/12/10 12:29 PM
Why shove this onto the children Why feed our children's minds with trash like Pullman's books when there is CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien out there. Plenty of better alternatives. It's pathetic what passes for children's and young adult "literature" these days, which is why parents need to guide their children and help them to form their consciences.
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