A middle-aged man dreaming of the day when he can stop begging for scraps and write for a living.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Golden Compass

Yesterday, T and I went to see The Golden Compass, the movie adapted from the novel by Phil Pullman. Pullman is an avowed atheist, and apparently doesn't pull any punches in his writing. I've never read his work so I can't say for myself, but Christians are calling for a boycott across the nation.

That alone was enough to ensure that I was going to go and pay money for this movie.

I'm still not over the shingles. Only through the agency of painkillers both mild and strong have I been able to go out and do things this week; I even managed to clock in 21 hours at work, which is really going to hurt my finances, but this month is pretty much a write-off already. But fortified with a pair of Advil we braved the winter snow (I think we got half a foot) to do some desperately needed grocery shopping before catching an early show.

I can see why the Christians are so upset. The protagonist works for the Magisterium, a church-like organization that wants to control what people think, believe and how they behave. Nicole Kidman stars as the main protagonist who lays on thick the need for most people to be told what to do. Her character also turns out to be behind one of the more disturbing policies of the Magisterium, which I won't reveal because I'm not in the habit of giving spoilers. Other agents of the Magisterium are shown trying to poison people with opinions or information they dislike, stealing private property to nullify others and using children in torturous experiments. As a whole, the Magisterium is depicted as a thoroughly evil organization whose members have generally abandoned any pretense of morality while furthering the organization's ends.

Now, there's no direct attempt to call the Magisterium a religious order, but the allegory is pretty clear. This is an organization that wants to "help" people by taking control of them and making sure everyone does what it wants them to. If Christian organizations feel that this is meant to be a slam against them, well, I suppose a guilty conscience would do that, wouldn't it?

Obviously, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people like Bill Donahue who calls Pullman's work "atheism for kids." As T put it yesterday, "if their beliefs are so special, what are they so worried about?" That's a question a lot of atheists and agnostics like to ask: if various religions really do have a lock on the Truth as they like to claim, why do they complain so much when that Truth is challenged?

You know what I think, and if you don't you haven't been paying attention. But aside from giving religious nuts a firm tweak in the nose, The Golden Compass is worth seeing at least once. I thought it handled an epic story fairly well, and the CGI is nothing to sneeze at either.

1 comment:

Alexandra Erin said...

Just a quick correction for you: unless you have a radically different interpretation of the movie than I do, the "protagonist" is the little girl with the compass. Nicole Kidman plays the antagonist.

Good stuff in this blog, though. It's easy to sell libertarianism to people who don't think about it, but it's basically anarchy with a fancy name, and anarchy is the quickest root to tyranny.