The Golden Compass

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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I know this film is highly controversial. As a fantasy fan, I enjoyed it but would not want to cause anyone to violate their conscience. I believe they are flawed on the face of the argument against Christianity and present that in the review below, which is why I post it here (not to start an argument about whether Christians should or should not, etc: I believe it's an area of liberty, meaning one is perfectly free *NOT* to watch; I am not trying to convince anyone to do so). I thought that even those who do not wish to see the films might wish to have the information in a discussion with unbelievers. I also posted this review on Amazon: it has been the most controversial I've posted; which I found interesting, especially as no one left a comment.

Incidentally in searching through archives to see if a review had been posted previously I found a question about what the 'daemons' are. I think, at least from the film, that the 'daemons' (a little animal that everyone has, whose well being is bound up with their own) are a projection of individuality and will. Of course the name is suggestive of what Pullman is trying to do, but apart from the name and some quibbles about one's understanding of freewill I don't believe a Christian comfortable with fantasy literature needs to object to what they stand for and how they are used in this film.


Philip Pullman is a very good storyteller--his world is consistently wonderful, his people consistently believable, his plot consistently intriguing. But he has no consistency in his arguments against Christianity.

Technically, the movie is splendid. The little girl who plays Lyra is almost unbelievable, in being completely so. All of the visual material down to every atmospheric detail (the clothes, the machinery, the city and skyscapes, the ice bears!) is wonder-full in the best tradition of fairy story: it was worth every cent to see them on the big screen (and watching the dvd will become at least an annual treat). I loved the quaintness in the speech, the archaisms, the sound and resonance of the voices. For anyone with a fantastic turn of imagination the movie is like opening a present.

Certainly the word `authority' comes forth as a dirty word, in opposition to `freewill' which is a cause worth fighting for. One is necessarily in the position of rooting for and admiring Lyra for her rebellion against tyranny, her insistence on doing what she wants, and her resourceful lies. But this is where the consistency of the movie falls apart. The rebels have an authority structure, too: there is a high chief who gives orders, and chieftans under him. In the rebels this is admirable, efficient: submitting to these orders is presumably what each rebel freely wants to do. One admires Lyra equally for her truthfulness - for keeping her promises, for not believing other people's lies. On the terms of the film, one accepts instinctively that some lies are base and some lies noble, and that there is some moral principle dividing the two. "Liar" is used despectively of someone Lyra disbelieves; another little boy says heroically that `he was taught to write the truth', the bear puts his life on the line to be faithful to a debt he owes a child. All of this is shown to be heroic, and there would be no fighting against `authority' without this heroism. But there is no truth, no keeping of faith, no morality of any sort, no willing submission, without authority. There is no fighting against `authority' absolutely because the very means of fighting it must utilize itself.

& honestly, If I hadn't known that Pullman is trying to make a statement against Christianity in this film, I wouldn't have noticed. What the film actually winds up doing adds joy to my commitment to an authoritative story about the rebel Kingdom of the Highest, the insurrection of the Son of God against the rulers of the darkness of this world, the most costly kept promises.
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