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The Golden Compass (2007)

The Golden Compass. Feature film. (2007, 115 mins) IMDB

...imagine a more literal interpretation of the novel on which this film was based...


magine Victorian England in style, but with high-tech gizmos that don't even exist today. Imagine parallel universes and multiple worlds. Imagine every person walking around with a talking animal known as a daemon. Imagine a government that wants to stifle knowledge in name of maintaining control--oh yeah, the Bush administration--that's one's not hard.

The film is a fantasy with action and adventure and religious undertones.

The golden compass is a complicated mechanical device with watch works that allows our hero, Lyra, to read the truth about any questions she asks. Some gizmo.

Lyra is a young girl in school, an orphan, and according to the witches' legend she is the one--the one who can read the last golden compass in existent. It turns out she can.

She represents the forces of good, of pure heart, innocent and naive. The ruling body known as the magesterium wants to control the world, remove knowledge and truth, tell us what to think. (Hmmm, that sounds like organized religion). This force of evil, the dark forces, reminded me of Nazis and Darth Vader, but that was the costume designs. It wasn't hard to despise this collection of people. I was surprised it included Nicole Kidman in a role where she's charming and beautiful but in a second flips into a mean and vicious women. The result is a fascinating character because she becomes unpredictable and dangerous.

I won't comment on the religious aspects of this film because it's not my thing, but I will say there is a simplified view on life--a stark black and white, but that's typical of narratives especially legends, myths and fantasy.

I quite enjoyed the film even if I wasn't sure what a Gyptian was or the other clans of people. I imagine reading the novels before hand would provide insight into whose these people are.

The film ends with a set-up for a sequel, but it also ends abruptly. I expected Lyra to continue her journey to find her uncle/father Lord Arsiel, but that didn't happen. Hmmm.

The running time is listed as 113 minutes. That seems to include 13 minutes of end credits. Unreal.

(P.S. After watching the film and writing my comments, I read some online ones about this film. The film is based on the novels by British writer Phillip Pullman who, as atheist, wrote the books to take shots at the Roman Catholic Church and religion in general. The studio, New Line Cinema, in an act of cowardice, didn't want this shown and as a result the film tries not to offend. As Winnie-the-Pooh says, "Oh, bother." It's a form of censorship and I hate it. It's exactly what Pullman is writing about, warning about. One step closer to the dark ages.)

Posted 2009/04/01 at 19h08ET in Movie Commentary.


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