In defence of The Golden Compass

Predictably enough, the new film based on Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials books has attracted negative attention. Duncan argues for letting people make their own choices...

Golden Compass

It has come to my attention that there is a boycott circulating regarding the movie of The Golden Compass. If I wasn’t so tired I’d be remarkably angry right about now, as it is I’m just plain sad.

The thing is that I love reading, but have never read nearly as much as I would like. I commuted to work by train every day a few years back and it finally gave me the opportunity to have an allocated amount of time every day to read as much as I could. It was during this time that I discovered such life affecting authors as Douglas Coupland (it has since been a dream of mine to make the film version of Girlfriend in a Coma, which is an ambitious ambition to say the least) and also read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Simply put, the trilogy was incredible. It was beautiful, original, intelligent and moving, so to hear it being openly denounced and for Philip Pullman to be portrayed as some kind of demonic corrupter of childen is unacceptable.

I have found an article which humourously details the faults in the outcry, but I’ll post the link so you can make your own mind up, which is actually the whole point of this article. No one is really sure how much of the religious content from the books has made it into the movie as a large part was removed out of fear that there would be an outcry against The Golden Compass and no matter what your point of view, self-censorship out of fear is just plain wrong. The worst part is that I have now read that this ‘watering down’ of the religious angle is to trick children into liking the movie, then buying the books, which will result in these children being brainwashed into an anti-God state of mind. No doubt to promote the movie during its release, Philip Pullman will be trawling the streets in his sinister child-catching mobile, grabbing them and then physically beating the God out of them with his book. I despair.

I’m happy for people to believe whatever they want, have faith in whatever gives them comfort and surely part of forming any belief is in looking at other views and making a balanced choice based on your own journey. How can so many people feel so threatened by three books, set in a fictional world? Don’t they give their children any credit or freedom of choice? I saw The Empire Strikes Back when I was five years old, but did ‘The Force’ have an effect on how I viewed God? Of course it didn’t, even though it presented an alternative belief system. I had a mother who believed in God and a father who passionately didn’t, so when it came time for me to look at religious issues I read books, I debated and sometimes argued over various faiths and took nothing for granted. Ironically I have more of a spititual connection to what ‘The Force’ represents than I do to any organised religion, so maybe I’ve just disproved my point, but at least I made an informed decision.

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So if you do decide to take your children along, hope that the film leaves the same lasting impression that the book did on me, which wasn’t of being thrown into a fit of atheism, but of being utterly moved by a story about love and friendship during a journey of self discovery and adventure.