“Golden Compass” Movie Challenges Belief


Nicole Kidman in “The Golden Compass”

A Catholic boycott is helping to call attention to “The Golden Compass,” a film version of the first book in the children’s fantasy trilogy, “The Dark Materials,” by nontheist author Philip Pullman.

“The Golden Compass,” to be released Dec. 7, is directed by Chris Weitz (“About A Boy”) and stars Daniel Craig and a perfectly-cast Nicole Kidman as the elegant villainess. The books relate the larger than life-and-death adventures of 11-year-old Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards), who teams up with a young boy in the second and third books to fight The Authority.

Lyra is an “orphan” in a weird parallel universe who is destined to vanquish the Church, which ruthlessly tries to hunt her down. As the Baptist Press summarized the plot: “It’s a fantasy universe where witches are good, the church is bad, and at the end of it all, God dies.”

Considered the big special effects film of the holidays, the lavish $150 million production brings to life Pullman’s imaginative tour de force, full of witches, heroic armor-plated northern bears and the terrifying “Magisterium” (the Church). Pullman wrote the books directly to offer children an alternative to the sickly “antilife” theology of C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” series.

Some religious critics have derided Pullman as “the Pied Piper of Atheism.” The Catholic League has warned parents to keep their children away from the movie and the books, even though the film downplays the religious nature of the trilogy’s villain, the Magisterium.

Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor noted the trilogy was her daughter’s favorite reading as a preteen and young teenager:

“Introduce this riveting series to your children and grandchildren, and go see the film. A successful launch will ensure that the trilogy will be completed on film. Philip Pullman has offered the world a memorable storyline, which questions religious authority and enjoins humanity to create a ‘republic of heaven’ here on earth.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation