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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I've finished reading The Golden Compass ...

... and I'll now plunge on with the rest of the trilogy that makes up His Dark Materials. I haven't seen the movie of The Golden Compass, but I'm now a bit bemused by what I've heard about it. A major criticism was (or seemed to be ... it's possible that I got the wrong impression) that the movie watered down the anti-clerical content of the book. I've got to say that the latter wasn't actually very important. There are plot reasons why it may become more important as the trilogy continues, but there's really no great reason in the first book why the bad guys have to be connected with the Church/Magisterium. At least for the purposes of this first book, it could be just about any sinister, power-hungry, unscrupulous organisation doing these terrible things.

I'll get to the rest of the trilogy over the next few days.


Uncle Bob said...

It isn't 'til the third book that the religious arguments become clear. And even then, it was more like Greek mythology, IMO.

I honestly think most of the contention over the trilogy has more to do with Pullman's outspoken nature than anything that is in those books.

Sean (quantheory) said...

I don't think that the messages about the Church were the most "offensive". Through the rest of the series, Pullman picks at moral absolutism, not only with respect to lying, but theft, murder and, to the limited extent possible in books for relatively young ages, sexuality.

There are also increasingly direct assaults on the ideas of God and an afterlife, which I'm guessing are more offensive to more people than attacks on the alternate universe's Catholic church. Maybe you'll feel differently, but I can't imagine an adaptation of the 3rd book that would be at all worth seeing and yet relatively friendly to Christians (let alone Catholics).

Russell Blackford said...

It's becoming much more anti-clerical in the second book. But as far as I know the movie only covers the first book. (Is that right?)

Nathan said...

Yes, the movie covers only the first book. As with most book to movie conversions the majority of the book has to be cut leaving only the selected plotline. I'm told by my friends the movie stood very well by itself, but after reading the book I was unsatisfied.

Steven Paul Leiva said...

The film is horrible, don't bother. It's like a bad "Classics Illustrated" version. These books could only be done justice in a mini-series for television, with several episodes taken to cover each book.