[DWJ] Northern Lights movie- very slight spoilers

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 10:00:11 EST 2007

(this rambles a bit, sorry)

My response to the movie was "meh"

I thought the casting was brilliant. My vision of Mrs. Coulter as I read the
book was Nicole Kidman and she certainly lived up to my expectations. The
girl who played Lyra was perfect - as was Lee Scoresby.

But I came away unimpressed. It looked pretty. The people playing the parts
were perfect. But the interior world was just missing. And it all felt like

And although I was willing to forgive Peter Jackson and crew for realigning
the contents of the 3 books when they made the Lord of the Rings movies (in
fact, it worked better that way - imagine Sam and Frodo spending as much
time getting across Mordor as they did in the book!) - in this movie I felt
shortchanged and disgruntled by the early ending. One of the big thrusts of
the book is Lyra's taking the alethiometer to Asriel - and the emotional
impact of what happens then is the real climax of the book, not the battle
with the Tartars. And it's parallel with the ending of the second book, now
that I think of it.

As for the books and Pullman's atheism. If he says he's an atheist, he's an
atheist. But I've always been a bit puzzled by those who say the book is
anti-Christian or anti-religious. It reads to me as anti-authoritarian and
anti-dogma. And actually, the movie's changes on that count didn't bother me
too much. When the "bad" guys start railing about heresy and curtailing free
will it's pretty clear what's going on.


My reading of the books is that the death of the Authority is not the death
of "God the Creator" - but the death of the usurper - the angel who is
pretending to be the creator. In fact, that's explicitly stated in the book.
This is the demiurge (in Gnostic terms).

I adore the books. They thrill me. Lyra and Will and Mrs. Coulter and Baruch
and Balthamos and Hester and Serafina and Mary Malone are masterful
creations. And I love the daemons - I love the idea. I do have trouble with
the fixed form the daemons eventually take - a "servant's" daemon is always
a dog - it's a bit (more than a bit) classist and doesn't allow for much
personal change.

Personally, I don't see homophobia as much as heteronormativity or
heterosexism. Non-straight folks just aren't very present except for one

I'm consciously forgiving those things or living with the tension they call
up because I love the rest of this world so much. Every time I go back, I
see and feel more (like the father resolutions at the end of the first two
books - which I just realized writing this note).

The movie had almost none of that. So, while it didn't offend me (the way,
say, The Grinch movie offended me), I'm certainly not waiting with bated
breath for the next one (the way I was for The Two Towers or The Return of
the King).


On Dec 12, 2007 4:57 PM, Anna Zofia Skarzynska <ania.s at tiscali.co.uk> wrote:

> I've just been to see The Golden Compass and I must say I enjoyed it on
> the whole, despite some pretty drastic alterations and 'adjustments' to the
> plot.
> It rather galloped through the book, missed lots out, squished parts
> together, shuffled events around and certainly dumbed the whole thing down.
> Also, they chose to end it sooner than in the book, but that sort of makes
> sense (the omitted final events lead straight into the plot of the next
> book, so they'll sit just as well at the beginning of the next movie if they
> make it). Also, as it's now (sadly) a 'family' movie, they had to have a
> happyish ending. However, evil woman that I am, I am pleased to report that
> my friend's daughter (9 or so, I think) cried with fear for most of the
> film- so it's not all sweetness and light.
> The daemons were OK- not too cute- I have yet to see a well-realized
> animated cat, though. They are always that little bit wrong. Pantalaimon as
> cat reminded me of a tabby Garfield.
> On the plus side, the casting was excellent, Lyra was perfect, and
> visually it was stunning and just right. It means that I can now reread the
> books and recreate it in my head, but with the real plot.
> I do wonder whether a 'director's cut special extended edition' or some
> such will ever be available. I'd watch that. Especially with some added
> blood. There was practically none in the film, despite quite a bit of
> fighting. Even after the white polar bears fought on the white snow they-
> and it- remained oddly white. Hmmmm.
> Ania
> _______________________________________________
> Dwj mailing list
> Dwj at suberic.net
> http://www.suberic.net/mailman/listinfo/dwj

Honor can exist anywhere, love can exist anywhere, but justice can exist
only among people who found their relationships upon it.
- Ursula K. LeGuin "Powers"
Ian W. Riddell
Director of Music Ministry, James Reeb UU Congregation
Artistic Director, Perfect Harmony Men's Chorus
iwriddell at gmail.com / riddell at perfectharmonychorus.org

More information about the Dwj mailing list