Friday, November 30, 2007

His Dark Materials

Nice to see the ever-reliable Catholics trying to make sure The Golden Compass is the most successful film since The Passion of St Tibulus.

But the complaints are inane as well as predictably counterproductive: the sinister Church authorities of Philip Pullman’s story are from a world in which Calvin became Pope.

The resultant institutions and doctrines – a fictional hybrid, historically extrapolated and laced with Pullman’s own supernatural inventions – can surely be depicted scathingly without it being taken as an indictment of actual Catholicism.

Pullman’s an atheist, but he has rich knowledge of Christian theology and all sorts of mythology on display in his books – which are certainly not atheistic. What they are is anti-authority, and if people fear such a message then that tells you all you need to know about them.

I loved the books. If you’ve not read them, imagine Lord of the Rings with characters – plus plot twists, engrossing writing and conceptual depth. The film(s) can’t possibly be as good, but that still leaves a lot of room for being very good indeed.


Matt M said...

The film promotes the idea that a divine being created the universe, that the supernatural is real and that we all possess a soul separate from the body.

Some people are never satisfied.

(Recently finished the trilogy, felt that the ending was a bit of let down)

Unknown said...

I saw The Golden Compass movie last night for the first time (I'm sure I'll be seeing it again next week) and it was amazing. Except for a few changes the film sticks to the story line really well with some flippin sweet cgi effects too.

As for references to the church, there were none, it was called the magisterium. I would recommend it to anyone! I'm Matt from DaemonNet a His Dark Materials fan site..

Catherine said...

I think we agree on something, but not on others. I would say he does NOT have a handle on Christian theology - there are many doctrinal issues that he alludes to (ie., reversing the "soul is better than body" worldview) but most of these are not actually Christian doctrines, but cultural beliefs found in countries where you also happen to find Christianity. I was actually quite disappointed by his understanding of Christian theology.

Anyway, I've been looking around the web to see what bloggers are saying about the books. I just posted mine as well here if you're interested. I'd love your feedback!