Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Golden Compass

At last I've gone to see the movie of Philip Pullman's "Northern Lights" - I suppose they called it "The Golden Compass" to be compatible with the titles of the other two books in the trilogy as they in turn become The Big Christmas Movie of the next two years? Whatever you care to call it, we braved the storms and bouncy ferry on Wednesday to visit a decently large and loud cinema to watch it, in the company of about ten others all told. (Morning movies are great)

I enjoyed it enormously. I think that having read the book, I probably enjoyed it more than if I'd come to it cold; the film lacks the depth of the original and I was, I suspect, supplying it. The daemons and the armoured bears were terrific - the bears were individually characterised, so apart from Ian McKellen's glorious voice for Iorek, there was the expression on the face of a particularly tall bear to enjoy as he watched the big fight for leadership of their clan. The big set scenes were impressive, and I enjoyed the realisation of a society in parallel with our own: the horseless carriages propelled by some mysterious (anti-gravity?) power source were a notable example.

Much has been written about the attack on the Church represented by the books and therefore the film. I know what the author has said about his original intent, and that's fair enough - but I have this to say about the film. I reckon that the only people who might feel that the authority represented in the movie was in fact the church would be people who themselves had experienced - and recognised - the church at its most repressive. People who suddenly realised that this was how their church had treated them. Because in the film, the only time I recognised any Christian reference was when the bear retrieved his armour from the Authority's storehouse - and the walls through which he burst had recognisable iconic figures painted on them. It was a fleeting glimpse of something familiar - and you had to be looking. Otherwise, the authority figures wore nothing resembling a cross or other Christian insignia, and dressed in what resembled Ruritarian uniforms of a past age rather than robes. Oh, and the Derek Jacobi figure mentioned heresy - but that's a much less specific term than it was.

I was so taken with all this that I retook my "Find your Daemon" test - and came up with this ocelot. He's got a rather Irish name, but I like him.


  1. Anonymous6:55 PM

    I've still not got round to seeing it, but I think I shall now. Thanks for reassuring me about it... the reviews have been somewhat mixed and contradictory.

    Incidentally, you've made me go and find my own dæmon, so thanks for that as well!

  2. I redid mine and got Onthia, a fox.

    I've just started reading the books. The film in no way matches the anti-religious leaning of the book, but then it was made to appeal to the US as well.

  3. Anonymous6:05 PM

    You will not be surprised to learn that my daemon is apparently a crow yclept Brienne. I could not possibly comment further.