Review of "The Golden Compass"
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So, what is the big deal about this movie? Why should parents be concerned?
The movie The Golden Compass is the first book of the trilogy, His Dark Materials. Parents need to be concerned because it attacks the foundation of the Catholic Faith.1 Author, Philip Pullman says,
- "My books are about killing God."2
- "I am all for the death of God."3
- "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief."4
The author is an atheist, but how does that affect the film?
"Though much of Pullman's trilogy involves... mystical worlds with talking animals and magical witches, the underlying theme is no simple fantasy. In the fictional universe of His Dark Materials, there is no real God; rather there is a high angel called the Authority, who purports to be God."5 The Catholic Church, frequently called the Magisterium, is portrayed as the dark force to be overcome.
Isn't His Dark Materials just fiction?
It is fiction but it presents good as evil and evil as good. It portrays the evil of dark, demonic forces that battle God and ultimately kill God. So a film like this (and especially the trilogy it is based on) invites us to join forces against God.
How is the Golden Compass different from Narnia and the Lord of the Rings?
The Chronicles of Narnia are a fantasy representing the battle between God and His followers and Satan and his devils. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien shows the power of God and His grace and invites the reader to join Him.
Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, promotes the lie that evil can ultimately defeat God. But we know that Jesus' death on the Cross has already won the ultimate victory.
Why can't kids go to it as a fun, fantasy movie? What am I to tell my child?
It is no simple fantasy. It is about evil being presented in an enticing and glamorous way. As the first teachers and protectors, parents would not allow their children to be desensitized to evil so that it becomes commonplace and they no longer recognize it as dangerous and seek to avoid it. It is the same as saying that parents would not let their children drink poison. Tell your children that this movie is def initely poison for the soul. In the Our Father, Jesus taught us clearly to pray, deliver us from evil.6 Jesus does not want us to toy with evil even when it looks fascinating.
The producers say any references to the Catholic Church have been removed. Doesn't this leave the movie as just a fun fantasy adventure?
The references to the Catholic Church have been removed from the movie but a different word has been substituted, it is the Magisterium. The producers of the movie are not stupid. They have removed some of the most sinister aspects against Christianity. But don't be fooled. The fundamental direction of the story is the same even if it has been sanitized and Pullman's goal is to entice people to read his books and reject God.
The books are much more detailed, more evil, and they attack, with a hateful vengeance, priests, nuns, bishops, the Mother of God and the Pope.
What is Pullman's philosophy and how is it dangerous?
Pullman's worldview is a world without God. He thinks the very idea of God needs to be destroyed. Pullman spreads his hatred for religion through these books.
The Christian worldview is that God is our loving Father. We cannot exist without Him; God created us and has given us everything out of love. To believe in God and embrace Him for all eternity is the joy and very center of our lives.
How can we use this movie's debut as a teaching experience?
Talk about this with your children. Do not be in denial that evil exists and that skilled marketers can disguise it and make it look attractive. We need to have a healthy level of concern about the power of evil even though Satan does not have equal power with God and cannot defeat God.
Satan is a fallen angel who hates God and wants us to hate God.' We love God and therefore we reject Satan and all his evil. This is why you promised at baptism:
"to reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin."
What should Catholic parents do?
Please do not go to the movie and do not buy the books. Return the books if you have already bought them. Spread the message to family and friends. Embrace the positive movies that have come from Hollywood like the Chronicles of Narnia or read the Lord of the Rings, and refuse to give your money or your approval to "Dark Materials" that try to snuff out the Lights.8
1 1 John 4:1-4 "...every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God."
2 Tony Watkins, Dark Matter, pp. 21, 152.
3 Philip Pullman, www.books.guardian.co.uk
4 Alona Wartofsky, "The Last Word; Philip Pullman's Trilogy for Young. Adults Ends With God's Death, and Remarkably Few Critics," Washington Post, Feb. 19, 2001.
5 The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked, Catholic League. p. 7.
6 Matthew 6:13, Philippians 4:8
7 See Revelation 12:7-9; John 8:44;1 John 2:18-25; Catechism of the Catholic Church, #391.
8 Wisdom 4:12 " ... the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good."