National Secular Society slams Golden Compass
We already knew that The Golden Compass film was to remove all mention of religion from the story, unlike that of the original Philip Pullman novels. We also heard that he was more than happy with this.
Now though the National Secular Society, of which Pullman is an honorary associate, has criticised the film rather heavily, and indeed Hollywood itself.
Terry Sanderson is the President of the society, and speaking to The Guardian he says:
"It was clear right from the start that the makers of this film intended to take out the anti-religious elements of Pullman's book…In doing that they are taking the heart out of it, losing the point of it, castrating it. It seems that religion has now completely conquered America's cultural life and it is much the poorer for it. What a shame that we have to endure such censorship here too."
Wow, that is a harsh statement, fair but harsh. The Director of The Golden Compass, Chris Weitz, countered some of the criticism of this softening at Cannes this year after a preview screening of some footage:
"In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic church gone wildly astray from its roots. If that's what you want in the film, you'll be disappointed…We have expanded the range of meanings of what the Magisterium represents. Philip Pullman is against any kind of organised dogma whether it is church hierarchy or, say, a Soviet hierarchy."
I like how he chose the example of a Soviet hierarchy, that's a much more palatable enemy to the majority of the American people and Hollywood.
You have to admit that they have done well in expanding on the ideas behind the Magisterium, and it is indeed more relevant in today's society. However the impact and Pullman's intended point of the Magisterium is lost, and that is what has enraged the Secular Society.
The focus of Hollywood is profit, and that the upsetting of religious groups might cause a backlash against the film and therefore hurt box office takings, and Philip Pullman has agreed that they can alter his work in this way, so should there really be any complaints?