Saturday, February 09, 2008

Golden Compass and Hairspray

April and I rented Hairspray this past week. Definitely recommended (watch it with a date). Ya, ya, I know it's a musical. Go see it anyway.
Despite various comments made here, April still wanted to see The Golden Compass. So last night, to celebrate her birthday, we went to the cheap theaters (they're three blocks from our apartment) to watch it. By the way, I'm not totally cheap. We also went out to eat, and we're going to a Jim Brickman concert in a couple of days (she's really excited about the concert).
The last few years there have been a few awesome fantasy movies. LOTR comes to mind. Compass is not awesome, but it's good. April (surprisingly) liked it even more than I did. It is a bit of a dark movie. And I want to analyze it a bit for those who've heard various things about it.
People say that the movie is anti-God. The dominating religion in the film, the Magisterium, is certainly the bad guy, and the free-thinking intellects are the good guys. However, members of the Magisterium also state one of their main objectives: they want to take away everyone's free will. Sound familiar? Sounds just like Satan's plan. I think, if Satan could, he'd prefer the Magisterium's system to the current, more chaotic system he now enjoys. Make no mistake--the Magisterium is evil to the core. By the way, they also kidnap children.
Meanwhile, the protagonist is given a Golden Compass. There are others out there, but the Magisterium has control over them and refuses to let others use them. The compass shows the truth. Liahona, anyone? The Magisterium wants total control over the truth, and goes all out to find the girl and her compass.
Of course, I'm also reminded of the Catholic church of Galileo's day. They insisted on being the only source of truth. "Take back what you said about the sun being the center of the universe or we'll kill you," they told Galileo. So he took it back (fingers crossed). Good thing we've come a long way since then, or we'd still blame sickness on evil spirits (instead of viruses and bacteria). We never would've made it to the moon. And...well, you get the idea. The Dark Ages were dark for a reason. Good thing the Catholic church has reformed.
The movie does attack authority, or at least the kind of authority that insists on being followed without too much thinking.
The movie's a bit dark, and so some might be bothered by that aspect. No doubt the rumors about how evil the movie is will also make it difficult for some to watch. It makes a statement against an authority that expects blind obedience, and so those who follow blindly or expect others to follow them blindly will not like it.
My recommendation? If you like fantasy, go see it. You might not agree with everything in the movie, but the only church the movie attacks is the one that strips men and women of their free will.
And no, despite what you may have heard, the movie is certainly not anti-God.


Tim said...

I should have realized this when I first wrote the post, but there's a huge comparison to be made between the authority here and the authority in Firefly.

the masked mallard said...

I haven't seen Compass yet, or read Pulman's books (yet). My understanding is that it was the later books that people felt had a really strong anti-Christian message.

Woodine said...

The movie removes many of Pulman's anti-Christian themes to target a broader audience. In the books, they are on a quest to kill "God".

Woodine said...

Oh, and I'm glad you recommend Hairspray - I've been wanting to see that.

Tim said...

From what it sounds like, the "God" in the books is much like the "wizard" in the Wizard of Oz. A hoax.
Sounds like Japan in pre-World War II, where their "God" was their leader.

Cougarg said...

I still don't think I'm going to go out of my way to see it. Even before I heard all the 'anti-religious' reports, I just rolled my eyes at the previews, it looked like it was just trying to cash in on the Narnia demographic.

I so grateful that, despite what others think about our faith, choice, agency, and accountability are integral to our beliefs. I don't think anyone should be coerced to believe anything. That being said, I don't like the depiction of religion as being negative or domineering. Yes, I know that so much oppression and violence is perpetrated in the name of almost all religions. But, I think it is a sad commentary on our world that such is the case.

I also think that it is a shame that people will watch the movie and/or read the books, and take it that religion is bad, no matter the religion, and wall themselves off from it. True religion, whatever particular beliefs they have, betters a person's life. Anything bad that comes from religion is due to some person's misguided interpretation.