Ruth and I went to see The Golden Compass as people seem to be making such a hoo-ha about it. I fist came across Pullman’s Dark Materials a few years ago when the school librarian thrust it at me demanding that I read it. He was convinced that the book contained the answers to life the universe and everything and I must be converted to Pullmanism. There has been much talk in the media about it and much discussion between Christians about it’s apparently Antichrist tendencies. Some would say that this is enough of a reason for me to go and see it. However, they would be wrong. The most compelling argument for going to see the film came from a colleague who once declared “I can’t wait for the revolution to come. That is when I get to roam the wasteland with an axe”. His reason for seeing The Golden Compass was simply “fighting bears wearing armour”.
I really enjoyed the film – particularly the fighting bears. I did find it a little disturbing to see one of them punched so hard his head came apart. I certainly wasn’t expecting that from the PG certificate and warning of “mild peril”. I don’t think I would have batted an eyelid if it hadn’t been a film that was obviously aimed at children. That aside there was a lot of fun and enjoyment to be had in the film. Dakota Blue Richards gave a sterling performance as did many of the other child actors. After seeing the other children’s book to film phenomenon of Daniel Racliffe disappoint on so many levels this came as a welcome surprise.
In spite of the huge pleasure that I had in watching the film, on reflection, the biggest problem I have with the film is that the plot seemed surprisingly thin and very reminiscent of 101 Dalmations. The film in many ways relied upon it’s brilliant cinematography and computer animated graphics of fighting bears to resell the tale of the kiddie-snatcher.
I had been hyped up by many on the internet to see a tale destined to shatter the church and bring about a new world order. Whilst this may be evidenced within the books, on the cinema screen I did not convincingly see this. The tale sets the academics against the ‘establishment’ but this does not come across as the church but instead governments. If it were not for the use of the word ‘heretic’ it would be impossible to tell who is really the intended target. Even when I think of it as an “attack” on the church, I am struck with how outdated the view of the church is. At any time you could imagine Simon McBurney bursting onto the screen and declaring that “no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition”.
Ruth of course had a totally different take on the film. She believes it is all Jungian psychology. She spent 10 minutes regaling me with tails of male/female animus, archetypes, completion of self and separation. She seemed to make sense but if I also had a doctorate in clinical psychology I may have understood it better…
The final point that the film taught me is about myself and my relation to the world around me. The older I get the better I find the acting prowess of Tom Cruise and the worse I find that of Nicole Kidman. How queer!