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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Golden Compass - A Review

I was listening to Chuck Missler recently and he made an interesting comment about how throughout the Bible the Devil always seems to use the eye's to attract people to sin - when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good.. she took some and ate it... this is true of this film. It is disturbingly attractive. The cinematography is beautiful with vast ice wastelands, a sea voyage and fantastic blimps that carry the characters over magnificent cities, even the CGI doesn't do much to take away from the film. But like the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil I'm afraid The Golden Compass, though tantalising will do more damage than good... and here's the scary part - this isn't just a religious rant from a lunatic fundamentalist! Philip Pullman the writer of the Series "His Dark Materials" upon which the film is based summed it up for me when he said "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief " In the beginning we discover that there are multiple universes all connected by a substance called "dust". In the particular Universe this story is set we discover that Human Beings each carry their souls outside their bodies in the shape of an animal known as a Daemon. The World is controlled by a power known as The Magistarium which pretty much tells everyone what to do and what they should think. Lyra Belacqua is the young heroine who lives in a University which supports free inquiry and funds an expedition of Lyra's uncle Lord Azreal (for some reason this made me think of the Smurfs) to the North where he intends to prove that the substance called dust connects us all to the parallel universes and may also provide a way in which one can travel between worlds, worlds so different from our own where people may not have Daemons, Daemons may not have people and God forbid there may even be worlds without the Magistarium! So off he goes on his great quest to rid the world of this totalitarian religious body while his niece is forced to go with the elusive Mrs. Coulter, of the Magistarium, to be her assistant. But she soon discovers that Mrs Coulter is heading a group called The Gobblers who are stealing children and taking them North to a place called Bolvanger where boys and girls are being experimented on by the Magistarium who are desperate to find a way to separate children from their Daemons. To help her in her adventures Lyra has been entrusted with The Golden Compass, a devise which tells her the truth about every situation. That's the plot summary in a nut shell but there is an interesting side plot in which we find Iorek Byrnison, an exiled Polar Bear Prince who has been banished from his Kingdom by the evil and underhanded Ragnar Sturlusson. Lorek is helped by Lyra who uses The Golden compass to locate his armour so he becomes indebted to her to help her in her quest to save her friends who have been dragged off to Bolvanger... When Lyra is kidnapped and taken to Ragnar Lorek is forced to return to his previous home to rescue her and a terrible confrontation between him and Ragner ensues... Pullman has been reported as commenting that C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia were religious propaganda so it is no surprise that critics of this story have noted its parallels with that series. Only in a negative sense. The Magistarium is very obviously The Church, in particular the Catholic church and the children being dragged off to secret places is a shameless indictment of past indiscretions individual members of the clergy have been found guilty of committing. I say individuals because Christ himself taught that should anyone lead a small child into sin it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned! This film would have you believe that it was Catholic dogma to abuse kids! The daemons at first made me think about the demonic realm and fallen angels but it is very clear in this story that they are meant to represent ones soul. Mrs Coultar explains about the "dust" that "Many years ago our ancestors made a terrible mistake and allowed dust into our world" which feeds into the children through their daemons. It becomes apparent that the "dust" is a metaphor for our sinful nature. It is interesting that this dust links people to other worlds that would be heresy for them to travel to. In plain English our "sin" links us to levels of experience not open to us under the restraints of the Church. The film implies that we don't need religious authority telling us what we can and can not experience because it is all good. Perhaps most shocking of all though is the blatant allegory Lorek Byrnison shares with no less than the Devil. In the way that Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia represents Christ, Ragnar the evil polar bear king is our Jesus portrayed as a vicious tyrant who forced the Devil... sorry, Lorek into exile. Am I being paranoid? You decide - during the big fisty cuff between the two Princes Lorek hurts his ankle, Ragnar the bear blars down at the seemingly defenseless Lorek "Is that all? IS THAT ALL?" to which Lorek swoops up and with his sharp claws rips off Ragnar's lower jaw which goes flying off into the cheering crowd of grumpy polar bears. Lorek is now King... So what you may say? One of the earliest prophecies about Christ is the seed of the woman which God states to the serpent "...will crush your head and you will strike his heel". I think it is more than a coincidence that the roles of the Devil and Christ are reversed in this depiction where Lorek, AKA The Devil is the one who crushes the Kings head when he rips out his throat with his own teeth. Still not convinced? Jesus is the Word of God, Lorek rips off Ragnars Jaw, thus shutting him up for good. Its true that throughout history the Devil has tried repeatedly to break God's word, he tried it by removing the Messiah at Calvary, he tried it (and still does) by the countless times he has tried to exterminate the Jewish Race. The Devil knows if he can break God's word then he has won. Obviously he can't because God knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning but in this film he succeeds. If you're still not convinced then at least remember this - not only is Pullman a supporter of the British Humanist Association but he is also an Honorary associate of the National Secular Society. He even made this comment about Richard Dawkins' anti christian rant The God Delusion: "It is so well written, in fact, that children deserve to read it as well as adults. It should have a place in every school library—especially in the library of every ‘faith’ school" Many Christians have grabbed their pitch forks and flaming torches at the likes of Harry Potter but I promise you - this film is far more destructive. Its one of my convictions that as a Christian you are free to see it but be prepared to be able to explain the themes and allegories to your children and make sure you chew over them yourself. Movie Trailer For Another review of this movie check out The Compass Points In The Wrong Direction by Richard Fangrad.

3 comments:

  1. Ooooooo. A kiwi.
    Hey. It's rare that I hit "Next" and come upon a page that is even in English anymore. Much less of this calibre. How out there are you? I have a hunch you could relate to me. I just started a kangaroo rodeo.

    Matt

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  2. Wow, your comment is a year old! Can you define "Out There"?

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  3. It is now 2012 and the hoopla over this movie has dissipated within the Christian community. I had forgotten about it, actually. But, since then, there has been an increase in anti-Christian movies which generate less and less outrage from Christians. I feel the broader picture here, is that Christianity is under attack. That's point 1. Point 2 is that Christians are oblivious. We are too busy with administrative busy work to notice. The Bible says the Christian life is to be at war with the world system. The US church, generally speaking, is not at war.

    Have you ever heard of Ray Comfort? I'd leave a website but I'm afraid your blogger settings would flag it. I'm also going to email you in case this doesn't get through. Also, check out John MacArthur. He is a preacher I think you should hear.

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