Nicole Kidman in a scene from “The Golden Compass.”
From its poster, this movie may look like another made-for-children stuff, with animal characters that talk and with the story revolving around a child
But “The Golden Compass” is a $180-million fantasy epic that actually points to a direction other than what it seems to be pointing at.
It’s definitely not for young children because the subject matter in the move is not only serious stuff but highly controversial as well.
Based on the first volume in the award-winning trilogy “His Dark Materials” by religious skeptic Philip Pullman, the movie already has been condemned by conservative Roman Catholics and evangelicals. They say it will hook children into Pullman’s books and a dark, individualistic world where all religion is evil.
But at least one liberal scholar has called the trilogy a “theological masterpiece,” and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rates the film “intelligent and well-crafted entertainment.”
Meanwhile, some secularists complain the movie from New Line Cinemas waters down Pullman’s religious critique. They feel sold out by the author, who has described himself as both an atheist and agnostic.
Starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, “The Golden Compass” traces a 12-year-old girl named Lyra from Oxford, England, to the Arctic to the edge of another universe, where she becomes locked in a battle between good and evil. The characters are shadowed by their own “daemons,” talking animal companions that take on soul-like qualities.
In early October, the New York-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights launched a boycott of the film, calling it “selling atheism to kids” at Christmas time in stealth fashion.
Director Chris Weitz has said he cut controversial religious content to make the film more commercially viable, with the plan of being more faithful to the original material in sequels.
For instance, the evil organization dominating the world is not “the church,” as it is in the book, but the “Magisterium,” which is getting criticism anyway because it’s a Catholic term.
The later books are even more direct in their religious criticism. One character, a former nun, says: “The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” Pullman himself has said, “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”
Britain’s National Secular Society, of which Pullman is a member, has said the changes made to avoid controversy amount to “taking the heart” out of the work.
Yet the film’s co-producer, Deborah Forte, said that in 12 years of being associated with the movie and the books, not one young reader has mentioned religion to her. Children love the story and the characters, she said.
“I think it’s a tempest in a teapot,” Forte said. “What we find interesting about our film is we’ve made this wonderful epic adventure story for families. … We encourage parents to make their own decisions.”
Ok, so it’s up to you, parents. Whether you want your children to believe that atheism is good and religion is evil, that’s up to you.
Yes, this is how today’s movie producers regard their business of making money. As long as they get fame and all the moolah they expect, who cares about social content and the latter’s impact on their audience? Who cares about children suddenly imagining Santa Claus and angels as evil Christian symbols after watching “The Golden Compass”?
Yes, it’s all up to us, parents. If parents could only kick the “golden” butts of the makers of this “Golden Compass” treachery movie, I’d love to join in the kicking spree.