Yesterday I watched the Golden Compass for the first time. I recently read the book as a part of a project for a class. I thought it was pretty good, it was very well-written and had a cliffhanger ending that had me wanting to read the other two books.
Over Christmas vacation, I have read the second and third books. I wasn't as thrilled with those as the first, but still they were well-written and compelling. The second and third were a big more explicit about the opposition to God and not just organized religion, which I wasn't crazy about.
Crap- (beware of spoilers)
Now to the crap- all that having been said I thought the movie was crap. Sure maybe the special effects were good and I loved Nicole Kidman's clothes, but I hated all of the changes. About halfway through the movie they threw in the scene of Lyra leaving Iorek Byrnison to cross an ice bridge, which totes happens at the very end of the movie. Then they switched the big adventure scenes so that the bear fight in Svalbard happened before the escape from Bolvangar, which in the books take place in the opposite way. I was already irked by these changes and then the movie abruptly ends with Lyra and Roger in Lee Scoresby's hot air balloon!!! What the??? This is not how the book ends. They chopped off Lyra meeting up with her dad, her dad blowing his way into other worlds and Roger DYING!!! A character dies and they just chopped that whole scene out!!! I couldn't handle it. That is not OK. geez. I was mad.
Controversy- (side note- this might come off at preachy, I don't mean to, I just feel passionately about this...)
There was much controversy when the movie came out regarding its views on religion. Many felt that the movie would be anti-religion, so the story was changed so that it focused on being more anti-establishment instead of just against religion. Had this been a change that the filmmakers made in order to enhance the story or for some artistic reason I could accept that. However the changes were made as to avoid controversy and to pander to the voices of many in the religious right and Catholics (side note- I am Catholic). The change was made so that they could make more money, since they would be offending fewer people. They sacrificed the integrity of their art to make more money and I don't believe that is right.
I also don't agree with the reasons that people found the film (which had not even come out yet) so offensive. I first off wonder how many of those who were so opposed to the movie and the novels have actually read the books. Probably not many. If they did they might see things differently. One of the main objections I've heard to the novels is that Pullman, the author, kills off God. Before reading the books I imagined that someone murdered God and some characters do actually plan to do so. However, in the book, God simply passes away, assumedly of natural causes. But he dies peacefully and in some ways beautifully. While there may be arguments about whether or not God can die or whether God dying is offensive, I think saying that God is killed is an exaggeration.
While people certainly have their right to their beliefs and to be offended by whatever they please, I don't think that is a reason to boycott or ban something. One lesson we always learn in schools about creating effective arguments is to understand and acknowledge the oppositon. If you don't agree with the message of Pullman's series (and I'm not sure that I agree with him)that doesn't mean his work is trash that should be disregarded. If you don't think what he's saying is right or valid, read his works, figure out why you disagree, figure out where he's got it wrong. Discuss, debate, analyze!!! Become an informed speaker on the subject, you will be taken much more seriously.
And don't prevent your kids from growing in this way as well. I'm not trying to tell people what their children should read. But before you censor things from your children consider two things.
1) Read the books/ see the movies that your children are interested in. You are the best judge for what your kids can handle, not the movie critics, the movie rating system or the blogs and TV personalities we watch (including me). Take the responsibility of deciding what is best for your children into your own hands.
2) Be open to allowing your children to read books/see movies that might express ideas or opinions you don't agree with. Allow them to become informed citizens, who are open minded and can make decisions based on looking at an issue from all sides. We want our country to be made up of these sorts of people. And if you have heeded piece of advice number one, you will be able to have discussions with your children about said books/movies. If you don't agree with Philip Pullman's message, talk to your kids about it afterwards, they may not even have picked up on the anti-religious themes. This will give you a chance to talk to your children about your beliefs and how it is important to read and learn about differing views and opinions.
Sorry if that got preachy, I just had to get it out.