When Cathy and I last went to the movies (to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — sans kids) we saw several clips for other upcoming fantasy films. One of them was “The Golden Compass”. It looked like a really classy, intriguing and exciting film. We instantly put it on our “must see when it comes out” list.
Last week, I read this news story on CathNews: My new film not anti-church, pleads Catholic Kidman. I didn’t give it much thought then. Nor did I connect the title of the film to the trailer Cathy and I had seen in the cinema.
Is there cause for concern? First the details:
Watch a five minute trailer here.
Read about the movie here (check out the parental guidance section on the left hand side)
I couldn’t get the movie site to work, but you might have more luck.
Here is the Wikipedia site for the book on which it is based (“Northern Lights”) and for the whole “His Dark Materials” trilogy.
Now, I haven’t read the books. I think I might now, however. As far as I can tell, it is anti-Catholic, anti-Christian ideology in a very attractive three-volume package.
My concerns? Well, if it was the movie only, I wouldn’t be too concerned. The movie will poison the term “Magisterium” (more’s the pity)–but it is a term that doesn’t usually enter into the basic Catechesis of most Catholics, and those who learn the term are usually beyond being poisoned by stuff like this at a popular level. I also note in the trailer that the Professor is condemned for an idea which is said to be “heresy”–so not all the ideology has been removed from the film. But it seems that our Nicole is right–there isn’t much directly in the movie that could be said to be explicitly anti-Catholic. The implicit undertones however… well, there is a lot more to be concerned about here than with Harry Potter, which simply ignored the spiritual side of reality (at least until the last book).
But it isn’t only a movie. It is based on the first volume of that trilogy–and that is a real concern. Because kids who enjoy the movie will want to read the books, and that is where the real damage can be done. It is one thing, perhaps, that outside the Canada and the United States the book is not know as “The Golden Compass” but “Northern Lights”. But I expect it will not be long before editions of the book start appearing Down Under with the title “The Golden Compass” as a tie in to the movie.
Christians were happy to see the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” made into movies, precisely because it encouraged children to read these great fantasy novels–and thus to expose them to some of the greatest Christian themed fiction ever written. But the cinematic industry is a two edged sword, and “The Golden Compass” cuts the other way.