I won a book of gift certificates for a local movie theater two summers ago at our company’s “Summer Social” and promptly tucked them away in a safe place. Having recently rediscovered that place, and being on vacation until the second of January, I am getting in some movie watching. I’m not sure if I could tell you when the last time I saw a movie in the theater before this week. I have seen two this week so far with another likely tomorrow. One of the movies taken in was The Golden Compass. I have always contended that the quickest way to get christians to go see a movie is to tell them they should not.
As the movie began, I braced myself for the onslaught; the attack on my belief system; the sucking out of me my entire faith foundation. I’m not sure when it occurred to me — somewhere in the first 30 minutes or so — that not only was my faith intact but this movie was rather well done. The ‘feel’ was quite large and expansive similar to The Lord of the Rings. The premise of the story intrigued me and struck me as so very relevant. The Magisterium is the body that is responsible for ensuring that orthodox teachings of centuries remain as the only acceptable belief system and free from any alternate interpretation but their own. The lengths the Magisterium will go to in order to maintain adherence (control) is boundless. Enter a young girl and the Magisterium’s plan is doomed to unravelling.
There is one scene where a particular creature (armored bear) has regained his stature, but is now face to face with those that would take from him what is his, including his very life. As all the characters poise themselves for certain battle, the young girl approaches the bear and suggests that no good can come from this and that fighting will only bring more pain and sorrow. He concedes to the wisdom of the young girl. For me that was a very telling moment in the movie. The story goes on to include a good deal of violence as you might expect, but that moment stands out.
Having seen the movie I think of it as grouped with the likes of other fantasy/fiction that I have seen over the recent years; Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter. When grouped as such something stands out to me. All of these movies exploit the use of redemptive violence to some extent. I considered the use of such device in the seperate movies and concluded that Lord of the Rings is the biggest offender on this front. Narnia and The Golden Compass are fairly even in their use with the nod probably going to Narnia. This is something that has puzzled me about the quick and fervent attachment to these two particular films by christians. Simply puzzling. In considering this I realized it might just be why I enjoyed the Harry Potter movies more than Lord of the Rings, Narnia and The Golden Compass. Yes, there is violence, but not the total reliance on redemptive violence as though there were no other alternative.
So, for what it is worth, there are my thoughts on the movie. I realize that the perceived issue among many christians is that children will now be drawn to the books and that there is where the danger is to be found. I have not read the books and likely will not, but the books will have to be very different from the movie if the grand conspiracy I have read about is to bear its intended fruit. My concluding recommendation; see it if you are at all interested, but if you’d really like a fun alternative rent the Harry Potter series and spend a rainy weekend afternoon watching them with your family.