Thursday, December 06, 2007

the golden compass (book and film)


the golden compass is tome 1 of the trilogy entitled His Dark Materials. its a fantasy world which has similarities to our own.

i enjoyed the different factions. the separation of powers. there is oxford college which traditionally stood for social and scientific progress. the government, puppets of the magisterium which stands for totalitarian rule. one cant help but make the connection between the magisterium mentioned in the book and the catholic church with it's history of oppression of outsiders and suppression of freedom. the gyptians (similar to the fate of gypsies in europe). the free-spirited nomads who are subjects of prejudice, from which our main hero lyra belacqua will get most aid from. i was inspired by the magnificence of the armored bears and the alluring witches.

on page 239. there is, for the first time nearly the end of tome 1, a brief mention of the vatican. the power behind the magisterium and the clever precedent, refering to the practice of castration in catholic europe, to the awful cruelty that is happening in lyra's world.

my favorite part is the confrontation between the armored bears. i thought it a precise metaphor to how weak and dangerous pretentions can become.


have finally watched the movie golden compass. i was very disappointed with the movie. although it was faithful to the general plot, it failed to convey the same level of excitement and dread that it had in the book. to put it mildly .. it lacked soul. if the story had been human, the movie would have been someone who had lost its daemon. by this time i believe most people would have heard about it. or have watched it themselves. so it would be okey if i mention the parts which went missing in it.

1. first, the magisterium was heavily watered down into a regular bad guy. for those who havent read the books. the magisterium is controled by the vatican. even if it did maintain its primary intent, that is to control mankind (his thoughts. his dreams. his life). the change of face made it less of a threat and therefore it was less intriguing. i felt that this was very unfortunate that prof. richard dawkins is once again right in his thesis. why is religion immune to scrutiny. but that is that another story. (another forum for that matter)

2. in the book i felt scared and utterly shocked at the discovery of the ghostly kid who lost his daemon. it was downplayed in the film. i couldn't feel any dread. but instead it felt like a walk in the park on a sunday afternoon where you ignore everything around you. in the book, the boy died. in the movie, they hinted on getting the daemon back. again this couldn't work. the enemy and what it was doing became an inconvenience rather than something to be afraid of. it took away the intensity of the scene. loosing your soul is suppose to be a very big deal. and yet the people just stood there as if the kid just lost a pet.

what better way to invade a kingdom but by invading its culture (its spirit). this is exactly what happened during the age of colonization where christian europe settled in the americas and colonized many parts of africa and asia. this story is written all over church history. it starts by converting the ruling class, then the nobles and then finally, the peasants. it then demonizes/ridicules local traditions until eventually everything about their identity had been stamped out completely. much like the king of svalbard who was enticed to convert along with his confused subjects. it must have started that way too for the filipino natives when their datus (chieftains) converted (under the banner of the sword) to catholicism. it must have been awkward and confusing for their subjects. their way of life changed. their spirit gone. they've become slaves to the imported culture. although not portrayed very well in the film, the metaphor was perfectly obvious in the book.

rating - book 3 out of 5 ***
rating - film 1 out of 5 *

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