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The Golden Compass is church friendly

TheGoldenCompass.jpgAges ago, before His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass was being made or even had any cast, we heard that it was being heavily altered from the original novels by Philip Pullman to remove all the sections that might be construed as anti-religious, and now in an interview Nicole Kidman confirms it and says that she wouldn't have made the film if she thought it had been anti-Catholic.

When the story originally broke it seemed bizarre to those who had read the novels that the anti-religious elements could be removed and the film still tell the same story, well apparently a lot of it has been.

“It has been watered down a little...I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic.”

Are the comments from Nicole Kidman through Entertainment Weekly, The Sydney Morning Herald and Cinema Blend.

The His Dark Materials novels feature a Church that murders children and tries to control people for its own gains as well as stuff such as witches who are good and homosexual angels, you can see why Church members would be upset.

Critics are already suggesting that The Golden Compass, as the books did, is going to come under some fire, probably only expected since the books have proven to be so controversial to some.

It's interesting to think that if these books had been anti-Scientology then there wouldn't have been a problem with Hollywood adapting them for film, but since they are interpreted by some as anti-Catholic then they have to be censored.

Josh over at Cinema Blend wrote it better than I could:

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Non-belief in god may be the third biggest belief system on the planet (right behind Christianity and Islam), but the religious majority loves pretending atheism and agnosticism simply don’t exist...Apparently it’s ok to make a fantasy movie like Narnia, which is absolutely soaked in religion, but not ok to make a movie which is rooted in the opposing viewpoint.”

I whole heartedly agree with his comments, fill a trilogy with positive Church and statements from accepted organised religions and make it fit to be viewed by the world's susceptible children, but if there's something said against a religious organisation like the Catholic Church then it should be censored and hidden.

Interestingly Josh points out that the first book is the least anti-religious novel of them all, and it could be easy to go through it without really picking up on these elements. I couldn't say not having read it, but if this is the case and this novel has had to be watered down and censored, then there's not much hope of the rest of the series is there?

Pick any organised religion other than Christianity or Catholicism and put it in the same situation and you have to wonder if you'd have seen the material so heavily altered.



Though I may come from a different starting point than you, I understand the point you're making, and it troubles me as well. However, as to Scientology, I'm not sure that argument washes. In fact, I think you'd see a bigger uproar over anything anti-Scientology as the stars themselves would be out in force. That Southpark episode barely made it out to the public with the backlash it received. You'd also see a massive uproar over anything anti-Islam much like what happened when a print cartoon came out a while back. I think President Bush was even critical of the cartoon which signals that things are way out of hand.

One has to wonder...if Heaven's Gate still existed, would I be ruled a bigot for mocking their "religion"?

Though these news don't surprise me, I am disappointed. One of the reasons I was looking forward to this film was to see how they handled some of these messages and to hear that they've watered it down is a blow. I'm actually surprised Pullman agreed to it.

Might not be too much of a big deal with the first film but if they continue with the trilogy, skirting the messages will be much more difficult.

Hap, fair points, the uproar was there, but in both cases the materials were published.

Marina, I think I have to dive into the books now before the film arrives, see how much it is going to be affected.

I wonder if the film would have been as watered down if it were made purely for a British audience. I think it is another of those ones where the fear is of upsetting middle America - and not getting their cash in the box office. I would hope that us Brits are a little bit less fearful of this kind of thing. But then it is easy to see how even our own films are being made with American audiences in mind now.
I also think that it loses what was so brilliant about the books - that they are books for children but that they are written for them in a non-patronising, non-mollycoddling way. It could be easy to criticise Pullman and say his novels are as didactic about anti-religion as the Narnia books were about Christianity. But I think Pullman was smarter than that and shows that the world isn't about good and bad. It has shades of grey and kids need to make their own mind up about things. Surely this is far better than watering everything down.

I think you are missing a fundamental point here. Most children, after watching the film, will want to read the book. (Or they are probably asking to read the book now, after seeing only the trailer.) I have not read the book, but apparently it includes specific references to Christianity/Catholicism (including homosexual angels), rather than the generic "Magesterium" in the movie, which are not suitable for children. Parents may be unaware that the movie differs widely from the book. Hopefully parents will inform themselves before handing over a book without understanding the contents. As for whether or not it would have been so heavily altered if it had been any other organized religion -- umm.... -- Islam anyone? Oh, that's right. It never would have been made if it had been about Islam. The author would probably have been beheaded.

I'm curious, when you say "Christianity/Catholicism (including homosexual angels)" why is that not suitable for children? What part do you think isn't?

I agree though, whatever the medium be it game, film or book, the parents need to be sure of it before the kids get their hands on it.

Would it have been altered if it was concerning Islam? No, probably not because the film is American and British, the studios wouldn't have bent and pampered so much - they're thinking about their audience figures.

The author wouldn't have been beheaded in Britain or America which is where the film was made.


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