Dakota Blue Richards - Golden CompassSo, apparently, this movie The Golden Compass inspired The Catholic League to conduct a two month, nationwide protest of the film, and the books that inspired it, by writer Philip Pullman. The Catholic League even released a pamphlet outlining Pullman’s atheist agenda (Pullman is indeed an outspoken atheist), and his intent to force “god-hating” propaganda into the mind of innocent children across the globe.

Hollywood, on cue, removed much of the “offensive to Christian” material from the movie. In the world of The Golden Compass, the Magesterium represents a repressive Catholic church-like institution bent upon keeping the truth and knowledge of the world to itself; and controlling the population’s inquisitiveness and curiosity – starting with childhood. Human souls are represented by “daemons” which take the form of animals that belong – as conscience – to each person. The Magesterium has the idea that, if they separate these souls from children while they are young (”it’s just a little cut”), that they will become complacent adults.

The main character, Lyra (played by Dakota Blue Richards) becomes the main interest after witnessing an attempt on her uncles life by the Magesterium. Her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) is a scholar who is bent on understanding Dust, the essence by which all things are connected – souls to humans, parallel worlds to each other, and so on and so forth. The Magesterium seeks to silence Asriel, defiant against the Magesterium, with only the support and funding of a parallel Oxford University.

I suppose a world where animals not only have souls but represent them is enough to piss off the churchies. But how lovely is that idea; a world where we share our conscience with the other life forms on this planet? Would polar bears be so close to extinction? Would cows be herded by the thousands into Auschwitz-like killing sheds? And is a corrupt Religious institution like the Magesterium so far from the truth? Even now the Catholic Church is liquidating assets to pay off sexual abuse lawsuits – lawsuits brought by adults whose spirits were broken as children. And perhaps this Dust as a representation of “the great mystery” is an opportunity for children to relate God as something that connects all of us, men and animals alike; without the separate dogmas that seem to be tearing the world up right now.

Oh. The film also has witches, which probably freaks churchies out too. Beautiful witches that shoot arrows.

I guess what the Christians are so scared of is that the world of The Golden Compass is just cooler than the world of the Bible. Think about it, a girl being born into original sin and having to do penance their whole lives; or a curious girl defining her own morals and strength of character by experience while riding a polar bear?

The movie is beautiful. An art nouveau meets steam punk world excellently crafted and accented by good acting all round. The only criticism I have is that it wasn’t long enough. Some of the tribes were missing a bit of back story and their motivations weren’t well enough defined for my taste; but I can only suspect that the personal stuff existed in the territory that was worrisome to the producers, as far as the box office was concerned.

“We still need joy and delight, the promise of connection with something beyond ourselves. Perhaps children’s literature is the last forum left for such a project.” -Phillip Pullman