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The Golden Compass


eternal Zero
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there is always going to be a double standard when it comes to media that deals with religon... if it is church-safe, it is widely considered to be generally safe. when movies such as this one or anything that would imply a deviation from the monotheistic faiths of the world do so in such a public forum as the movie theatre, you're gonna have to expect there to be that kind of backlash.

it is unreasonable, ignorant and myopic. but it is what it is.

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It's rather funny, these protest groups afraid that exposure to this movie or the books will turn their children away from faith. Is their faith so fragile a fantasy book could destroy it?
the children? are you serious? are christian zealots really playing the children card?? suddenly we have to boycott a film because of the influence it might have on children? what is truly worse... instead of being brainwashed with an indirect, fantasy kid's movie implying that there is no invisible dude in the sky, is the exposure to the constant barrage of worldly bullshit that is forcefed our children throughout pop culture

As someone who's nearly in the right stage of life to raise kids, I've given a lot of thought to this kind of thing. I'd only be really concerned about letting young children (those who can't really think for themselves yet about faith issues and who can't always distinguish reality from belief from fiction) see a movie like this. I can't put an exact age on this, as it depends heavily on maturity, but I certainly wouldn't prevent my 12-year-old children from seeing something like this. There is some merit, I believe, in playing the "children card", just not to the extreme that a lot of people are taking it.

Then again, my opinion differs from nearly every Christian parent I've met. You've either got the parents who think that as long as they drag their kids to church, they don't have to even consider other issues, or the parents who try as hard as they can to shield their kids from everything "worldly", the extreme case being the people who believe that explicitly non-religious governments should govern their nations based on the Christian moral code. These are the types of parents who, if asked what their worst fear would be, would likely respond "That my children would die and not go to heaven".

Ignoring their myopic view of Christianity being focused on heaven (i.e. that all that really matters is ultimate salvation, and that life on earth has no significance), the problem is that those types of people forget that Christianity is a choice. Perhaps they think that if they constantly surround their kids with Christian influences, they'll have an easier time making the choice, or that their kids won't ever make a conscious choice; they'll just "grow up Christian". (Incidentally, I think both views completely cheapen the act of becoming a Christian).

My view instead is that I want my kids to become Christians, but most importantly, I want to teach them to *think for themselves*. I don't want to create mindless clones (i.e. Rod and Todd Flanders), and I'll be happy and support them in their life choices, even if rejecting Christianity is one of them, as long as they've made an informed decision, one that's well thought out.

Of course, I fully expect a lot of Christians to see differently on this. Then again, the Christian community generally abandons logic in place of faith, while I'd far rather have faith for the things logic can't deal with.

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Kanthos:

very well spoken. i think the problem is just what you pointed out: parents almost (maybe not almost at all) don't trust the world surrounding their children enough to leave it up to the child to decide on their own and to support them on that when the time comes and they're older and can make those sorts of decisions... ultimately, it is the ideals that you want instilled in them. it's a little harder to not suggest that parents don't trust their own children (as it is a touchy subject) so i won't go there but it ought to be the parents' prerogative to prepare their children to make those kinds of decisions rather than dedicate themselves to dictating and shaping the actual decision itself.

i say this because i am a parent and while my daughter was baptized in a catholic church by her mother, i am decidedly against forcing religon upon her despite myself having been raised muslim. the idea ought to be to keep her in an enviroment that values and preaches good practices and solid ideals but to brainwash her in either faith is to give her no choice and ultimately no trust in her ability to decide for herself. i am convinced that the opposite has the potential for being quite crippling. many zealous or uber-faithful parents would disagree with me... but if truly the importance of God and religon in a child's life is to teach them right from wrong and good from bad, then (at least at an early age) it really ought not matter the path upon which that is accomplished... only that it is.

i value my upbringing as a mulsim because it definetly accomplished that and kept me pious long enough, at least, to establish a fundamentally sound foundation upon which i led the rest of my life... no matter what religous choice i make now, my parents trust that i am educated enough to make that decision. what about a child? can you have that same trust? of course, no, because the child is far easier influenced... but i doubt the movie would have that profound an effect. i've seen many movies in my life and i've yet to see a movie (aside from maybe, say, the ten commandments and that's cuz c. heston is the man) that has shaped my religous views in any way

i would show this movie to my daughter. i wouldn't hesitate. there is no reason for me not to trust her intelligence. since i would never put her in a position that would compromise what her mother and i intend for her moral makeup, i wouldn't make that statement lightly. a movie that may imply that there isn't a god is the least of my worries in this day and age. i'm more concerned about the fact that she hears pop music that inspires her to "dip" and "put your back into it" and "my humps" and while i'm about as "hip" as anybody you'd ever meet, my 2 and a half year old daughter really shouldn't be dancing that way just yet.....

you're absolutely right, though, kanthos. the main fear that every religous parent has (christian or not) is that their child won't go to heaven. my mother, who is a few bolts shy of zealotry, was very ferocious about that one point... she was distressed over many of my life's choices because of how they'd endanger my chances to get into heaven... rather than how it would affect me here on earth. eventually, she realized that she had still done a fine job on raising me and that some things are just what they are. she trusts me, now that i've grown into a man to make good decisions because she's already established that expectation. i assume that, except for the really nutty ones, any parent of any religon can eventually realize that it never really came down to a movie or two in keeping their children on the right path...

it was merely a matter of picking and choosing your battles to BEST prepare your children to be adults later on.

this movie is NOT one of those battles.

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zyko, I'm in total agreement. I think I'm sceptical of the idea of a deathbed conversion for the same kind of reason too: while as a Christian, I believe that only God can judge the heart, it strikes me that at least some people might make a confession of faith that they don't really mean, simply because it either makes their surviving family happy or because they figure "what the heck, if I'm going to die, I might as well." Not that I believe living a good life on Earth is a ticket to heaven from a Christian perspective, but if you make a confession of faith simply to avoid a chance of an unpleasant afterlife and you don't care about how you live *now*, does your faith, whatever religion it may be, actually mean anything?

As for the movie, I know a lot of it is outcry for the sake of outcry. I know parents of my Christian friends back when I was in high school who paid little attention to the video games, music, and other cultural influences their kids were exposed to, but would definitely have spoken up about a movie like this. It's lazy/sensationalist parenting.

I favour trusting my kids over sheltering them (although I do plan to be well aware of the kinds of music, games, friends, and so on that they listen to/play/have). Maybe they'll make some bad choices, but honestly, who doesn't anyway? All you can do is lay the groundwork because the more you try to push your own agenda on them when they're not receptive to it, the more you'll push them away or cause them to become more interested in whatever it is you're telling them not to do.

Also, Christians suck at picking battles. As a whole, we'll get into ridiculous, unproductive debates over whether things like homosexuality should be accepted by the church and/or the government, while we generally turn a blind eye towards the major disfunctions in the aspects of love we preach as being acceptable from our viewpoint. When the divorce rate among Christians is hardly better than the divorce rate among non-Christians, when we have teen pregnancies and affairs, especially in people who *aren't* the rebel types, when there's so much going wrong within the church, it seems hypocritical to start pointing out the faults of others.

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wisdom

you are a very intelligent man, mike chase.

deathbed conversion is a very serious problem with organized religon because a lot of the monotheistic faiths thrive on the premise of salvation. an individual indoctrined with judaism, christianity or islam simply wants to go to heaven... we're told that there is no other goal in life but to get to heaven and that all other things are secondary in importance. catholicism, for example, has historically received the brunt of the heat on the topic... a man can kill, and then go, confess and ask for forgiveness and all is well. in islam, the only true requirement of the religon is to "islem.." which is the verb form of the religon's namesake which means to "surrender" implying that you surrender your soul to God.... and to do that you have to do nothin more than verbally (and of course, it is expected to be genuine but you already know how that might go) announce that there is no God but God and that Mohamed is his messenger. Then all is well.

these are quick fixes. there are countless instances in which muslims who have lived terribly and sinfully merely asked for forgiveness at the end of their lives by saying "ashadu ana la ila 'il allah, wi ashadu ana mohamedan ras'ul il' lah" and went into death under the impression that all is well. heaven bound and all...

it is a universal weakness of any faith rooted in the concept that an all-forgiving lord would promise you an afterlife that is a salvation with a simple apology

the movie is causing an uproar because the writer is making it so. if it weren't for his unusually aggressive commentary on the film, i'd doubt it would make much of a splash. is this a marketing ploy? did somebody put him up to it... advise him to attract as much attention to the underlying theme in order to stir up enough criticism to, perhaps, generate an immense amount of buzz around it? i wouldn't put it past anything where money is involved.

i feel terrible for any child that is not trusted by their parents. a lack of trust in any relationship is the end of that relationship for all intensive purposes. i was very fortunate to have had the full trust of my parents. they knew they could rely on me to at least use my head to rationalize things even if my final decision was not what they'd have wanted for me. the reality of life regardless of chosen faith is that there are a million and a half stimuli in this world and many of them are going to challenge the moral foundations of us all. why not juice up your awareness to counter it? i see it kinda like a TomTom GPS navigator... if you had only 60% of the available maps, wouldn't you prefer to have all the maps? it would only improve your awareness and avoid the scenario that comes up when you are somewhere that you don't have a map for and you suddenly realize you're fucked

keeping mindful of what is going on in the world of your children is the key to your communication with them. i don't get caught up in being "too adult"... i will watch mickey mouse clubhouse with my girl, play with her toys, disney channel is on whenever sportscenter is not =). as times change, so do standards and expectations. my parents tried to raise an american boy in the 80's and 90's as you would an egyptian boy in the 40's and 50's. it didn't work and with the way the world is changing, there is as much difference between 2007 and 1997 as there was between 1990 and 1960. the best a parent can do is keep it all in perspective...

as far as christians and the battles they pick, you're absolutely right. i couldn't have put it any better.

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So did anybody see this movie? There really isn't talk about killing God or whatever. I found it really entertaining. I thought it was gonna be gay, but I ended up enjoying it a lot. I gotta admit the whole concept of the daemons is really cool. And armored polar bears was indeed kickass.

Read some Yahoo! reviews to see what other people thought about. I looked at some posts by people who gave it an F.

Any people that go to this movie are supporting the message that is in the books and even though it may not have been in the movie the point is still there. They are killing God. It goes to show you that people these days just don't care about faith or God anymore. Christianity takes hits every day especially from the Hollywood industry. I fear for the world when the idea of killing God is met with praise. I will not go see this film nor recommend it to anyone I know and if I have to stand outside the theater and picket I will. What is even worse is this film will probably win awards yet films like the Last Temptation of Christ or many other faith based films will not win anything. The Chronicles of Narnia series and many of the other books written by (Christian) author C.S. Lewis have great fantasy storytelling, but also include messages of faith in them. I think it's high time that Hollywood start appealing to a faith based audience as well. As for those who are applauding a movie that is about killing God, you'll need to have a serious gut check. God created the world, he sent his only son Jesus Christ to this world start maknig movies about that.

WTF? I didnt even get the slightest hint of that sort of message in the movie. It was just your basic good vs evil, or fight for free will.

Do not let your children watch this. It is teaching your kids not to believe in God. I seen a review and someone even e-mailed me about this movie, Do not watch this movie, Put God first.

Yay for 2007. But then I saw things balance out with reviews (or just discussion) like these:

Take it from this Sunday School teacher: If your faith is so fragile that it cannot engage in a discussion about the virtue of free will and the potential abuse of power, this movie/book isn't for you. The irony being, of course, such close-mindedness is exactly what the author fears will be the downfall of mankind. If you can engage in the debate, however, you might find your faith strengthened by realizing you couldn't have true faith without freedom of thought. (Witness our frustrations with extremist versions of Sharia law.)

I guess it's just human nature to be up in arms about certain things.

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You know what I find ironic? That almost always "killing god" quates to something that thinks it's god.

IE: Xenogears. Fighting god? Nope, your fighting a massive bio weapon and his "angels" are mutated humans.

I'll bet you anything the same aplies here.

I read the books, and I wouldn't take this bet. ;)

The fact of the matter is that by the very definition of the word, "God" cannot be killed. It's impossible. If you believe that God is all-powerful (which is pretty much one of the things that makes God God), then you'd know that. If whatever they're calling "God" can be killed, then I guess it wasn't really "God" in the first place, right?

I guess people take more issue with the notion of theocide than anything else.

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I'm seeing it tonight. I'm pretty sure it won't be as good as the books. I liked the whole trilogy. There was really nothing in the books that stood out as being impossible, just another possible explanation about how things really are. I like how he mixed religion, fantasy, our own present-time world and science fiction all into one story. The idea of God being a bad guy who took all the credit for creating the world was an interesting take on creation. I don't understand how anyone can say "don't see this movie" because it presents this other version. Seriously, does anyone think that the author believes he's telling the truth? That he wants to overthrow religion and god because he wrote a fantasy story about it? It's just a book, a big "what if". Like that other guy said, if your faith is so fragile that it can't take a little experiment like this, what's the use? That's like a girlfriend who says she loves you and who will dump you for being 5 minutes late for a date. Absolute crap.

Also, I have a signed copy of one of the books and have met the author in person and shook hands (although he didn't seem all too happy to oblige with that last part, haha).

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I thought it odd that 10 years after the fact, when Pullman says that his books are about children killing God, there's a sudden controversy about it. For 10 years, people were fine with his books, which are quite obviously about rebelling against God and killing him, but they wait until he repeats himself in an interview to get angry about it.

The movie was decent. It lost the subtlety and pacing that the books had; instead, it bluntly hammers the fantastic aspects of the book into the audience with lines like "this is a gateway to another world, and there are thousands of worlds like ours but different. There are even ones where there is no Magisterium" (not a spoiler, first ten minutes of the film). It felt rushed and bereft of an overall idea or mood that connected its parts.

However, between the characters' arrival in the north and the ending that happened too early, the film had a bit more identity than in the beginning, and was enjoyable to watch. Sam Elliot did a great job playing Lee Scoresby. Whenever he spoke, I felt as if I were really in Lyra's world, rather than being shown and told about it. Dakota Blue Richards and Nicole Kidman also expressed their characters well.

I still can't fathom why they took out the awesome ending of the book, which practically mandates further reading (or viewing).

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the best thing said about this issue is the statement about the frailty of faith.

truly, if one's faith was so fragile, then the books and now the movie are a success to draw attention to it because it is clear that religous fervor without the strength of the faith beneath it is a failed commitment. perhaps, that is really the problem. one who believes deeply in God, would never doubt that God is unkillable as he is also unmutable, uncompromised, and undetered.

i think a lot of christians are, once again, insulting themselves.

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People are looking at this movie and the source material wrong. It's not anti-religious. It's pro-reason. I'm all for anything the promotes critical thought. I'm also for any good fantasy film that promises a good time. The reactions I've been hearing are very positive and I'm hoping to go see it on Monday.

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aarowswift, agreed

when are they finally going to make that sword of truth movie they're always talking about. i heard something about a tv series for terry goodkind's fantasy series but i'd much rather see it on the big screen.

are they ever going to do the belgariad? or the wheel of time? i was hoping with the success of the lord of rings and the consequent embarking of the narnia movies, that fantasy films would be on the upswing again like it was in the 80's...

imagine that, an era of fantasy books made into film.

and then ZELDA the movie hahahaha

[/fanboy]

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Ok... I've seen it now. Like I suspected, I was disappointed.

CONS:

- Why did they change Iofur Raknison's name? I mean, what could possibly have been the reason?

- Before the movie even began being made, there were rumors that Vin Diesel would play Iorek. I was so disappointed to hear Ian McKellen's voice when Iorek showed up. Not that I mind him at all, but he's an old man and he plays like he's doing Shakespeare all the time (which is what makes him so awesome in e.g. "Flushed Away", where they parodized this fact). Iorek should have sounded younger and more masculine. Diesel also has the voice to scream like a bear - they could have done without the sound effects if they'd picked him.

- I thought Iorek was pronounced "I-uh-rek", and the fact that it wasn't is ok, I guess, but then when I'd gotten used to it being pronounced "Your-ek", there was definitely a tendency among some of the actors to say it as "You-rek", which sounds totally less-than-awesome.

- Lyra has dark brown eyes while both her parents have bright blue. Ho-hum.

- There's this scene where the snow looks really fake...

- Everything happens too fast and incoherently, it's like the whole movie is made from cutouts... and more than once, it feels like some conversations are forced into a scene to explain something. Like when Serafina explains that witches get really old, or when Asriel walks in the snow, only to say "Svalbard...", in case the audience didn't get that already. It's not like someone would walk that far on a piece of land, climb mountains and shit, and then go say the place's name out loud - that's what you do when you first see it from a distance, like in an airplane when the clouds suddenly split and you can see the ground.

- Pantalaimon and Lyra have almost the same voice, it's really difficult to tell who's saying what, especially when neither of them are on the screen, or have their faces turned away.

- Lyra went to Bolvangar first, and then to the bears, but in the movie they switched it around for whatever odd reason.

- Why did they leave out the ending? The first book leaves you on a real cliffhanger, but the movie doesn't leave you with the same urge to know the rest at all. And how are they going to begin the second movie, I wonder? Are they even going to make one?

PROS:

+ Scoresby is pretty cool, even though he's a lot older than I imagined.

+ Kidman is awesome, both visually and acting-wise.

+ Nice music! Although it was kind of shamelessly dramatic sometimes.

+ Nice visuals all-round, and the architechture, especially in Oxford, was particularily impressive. The daimons were well rendered and looked pretty real most of the time. Lyra riding on Iorek's back was pretty ugly though... also, I'd pictured Iorek as being bigger. But that's just me.

+ Nice acting most of the time, I think, and Lyra was doing really well, too. Though my favorite was the nurse at Bolvangar - completely void of any remorse towards they children's suffering.

+ People spoke their own langauges - the Russians spoke Russian, the Svalbardians spoke Icelandic (I think?) and the Samoyeds probably spoke whatever it is they speak, too. Funny that the bears spoke English though.

+ They just had to throw in Christopher Lee playing a bad guy, didn't they? Hah!

In other news, I don't really get the religion issue. And it's been so long since I read the books, I don't even remember what it is the Magisterium thinks they're doing cutting those children away from their daimons - what are they trying to achieve? Anyway, what the Magisterium is doing doesn't seem all that different to what the church tried to do in the middle ages. The religious people trying to ban this movie are just pathetic. What people should be more worried about is how it treats some peoples as "bad" (like the Russians and the Samoyeds) - things like that have caused outrage before (though I personally don't have a problem with it - it's just a movie for god's sake). Seems like being anti-religious is worse than being a racist. Wtf?

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Saw the movie today. I thought it was fun and (for the most part) followed the book. Except for the ending. Why the hell did they cut that out? If they would have left it, it couldv'e been awesome. :| I'm guessing they are saving that for the beginning of The Subtle Knife movie (assuming they make it).

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Then how are they going to introduce Will? As I remember it, the second book starts with Will, in our world. How are they going to present him to the audience without some crappy explanation, if the movie begins with Lyra and Lord Asriel stepping into our world? Will they just randomly run into him?

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I'm sure they'll just heavy-handedly tell the audience right at the beginning (spoilers), "Will is a little boy who lives in our world instead of Lyra's world. Lyra's world is still there but displaced along a different dimension; one can get there from Will's world by opening portals in the air that lead into it."

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Then how are they going to introduce Will? As I remember it, the second book starts with Will, in our world. How are they going to present him to the audience without some crappy explanation, if the movie begins with Lyra and Lord Asriel stepping into our world? Will they just randomly run into him?

There's an easy explanation for that -- start movie 2 with the ending of book 1 (I'm trying to avoid spoilers), and then _right_ after Lyra steps through the portal to the other world, cut to Will and our world with the beginning of book 2, having Will meet Lyra in the process of that. Might cause a problem framing him as the main character of the movie, but that's not entirely inaccurate for the 2nd book anyway.

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The His Dark Materials trilogy is my all-time favorite series of books in existence, and one of my greatest inspirations as a musician. Personally, I think each book was better than the last, and I'm really hoping they didn't fuck it up too bad for this movie. Obviously, I haven't gotten to see it yet, but...

I'm curious to see how they'll deal with the pair of homosexual angels who make their appearance later on in the series. Y'know, Baruch and Balthamos? Will they cut them out entirely, or leave them in with their homosexuality removed? The latter would definitely detract from the story, but I can't see any possible way they'll leave that little tidbit in tact.

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It's been a while, but I'm not sure I understood they were both male... I don't see how they could cut them out entirely, they were so important to the plot, at least as I remember it. They'll probably fuck it up, but at least the movies bring a little more attention to the books. Very rarely does a movie actually outdo the book it's based on - but you try reading that trilogy in 6 hours (or the LOTR one in 9).

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