The Golden Compass

I know I’m a little bit late to this party but I’ve just watched The Golden Compass with Talitha and thought I might jot down some first impressions.

The film is essentially about a little girl who can see the truth with the help of a golden compass and who sets out to rescue a friend who has been captured by the evil Magisterium. Along the way she meets various characters some who turn out to be friends and others who turn out to be something less. The backdrop is the suppression of truth about something called “dust” that apparently joins parallel universes.

Overall I found the film difficult to engage with until the arrival of the cowboy and the bear. Up to that point in the film the characters were very angry and seemed to be driven by agendas that even if good made them shout a lot. The bear character and the cowboy (Byrnison and Scoresby) are played by fine actors and somehow they did manage to add some interest to what otherwise were characters I could neither identify with or invest in. This surprised me as the cast lineup was impressive and I expected to connect with the film much more.

Teepsy absolutely loved the talking animals and it made me wonder if in the new creation we might have talking animals although I have no reason to think that other than some wild speculation from Isaiah 11. The idea seems to be borrowed from the stories of witches having familiars or demons/fairies who protected them. If you like conspiracy theories then you might think Philip Pullman is promoting witchcraft and trying to encourage children to believe in dangerous dark arts, my own feelings are its a simple plot device. Teepsy said “surely Jesus is the friend who is always with us” which I thought was particularly brilliant.

The obvious thing about the story is a deep distrust maybe even hatred for the Catholic Church, in that way it reminded me of Dan Brown novels. Perhaps the Church does try to keep and maintain its power but it strikes me as a little paranoid to think that there is some master plan to enslave the world and destroy original thought. In fact the same in reverse might be said of the new atheist movement that wants to keep creation and Christianity out of schools and stop people in public office from having publicly held religious convictions.

Overall I was disappointed with the film and felt that it’s genre predecessors (Lord of the Rings and the Narnia novels) had so much more to offer both in characters and plot line that the “angry” world of Philip Pullman was one I was glad not to live in.

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