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Thread: His Dark Materials (Golden Compass Trilogy)

  1. #1

    Thumbs up His Dark Materials (Golden Compass Trilogy)

    I remember seeing the movie The Golden Compass twice when it came out. It's messages about Christian ideology and portrayal of familiars and witches really grabbed my attention. I just recently read the book trilogy it came from- His Dark Materials- and I have to say that never has a book so affected my worldviews and religious beliefs as a Wiccan. Is there anyone else here who read the series who has thoughts on it? I'd post my own (I'd LOVE to), but I want to know that other people here have read it too. Personally, I think it should be required reading for neo-Pagans.

  2. #2


    I didn't think the movie expressed any ideas all that well.

    Maybe I should read the books.

  3. #3


    I've watched the movie once since reading the books. I've noticed that they did extremely well what Lord of the Rings did- don't leave out any seminal details- important lines, important happenings, etc. The problem therein was that to cram everything into the movie that they did, they needed to excise a lot of the information behind why things are the way they are. They also stopped the movie about 60 pages short of the end of the book.

    In the book, it's explained that no one ever, for any reason, touches another person's dæmon. Ever. So then when someone does grab Lyra's dæmon by force at Bolvanger, it means a hell of a lot. In the movie, they never explain that people don't touch other people's dæmons, so when someone grabs Pantalaimon, you're just like, Oh. Ok. And they get a lot deeper into the research being done at Bolvanger as well.

    That's one example among, many, many important "why" details in the books that never made it to the movie.

  4. #4


    I hate the Golden Compass movie. The ice camp fight went on way too long, leading me to believe they were playing up the action side of the story too much. Iorek urged Lyra to "Come back!" while she crossed the ice bridge into the institution; in the book, the ice bridge leads her to Lord Asriel's balloon, and Iorek is urging her forward. Iorek came off more as a quirky outcast than the proud warrior purist that he is (he was the only one with enough moral resolve to deny Iofur's human-oriented leadership.) But the biggest offender would have to be Lyra. Yes, Lyra, in the book an extremely fierce and skilled adventurer; in the movie, a precocious liar happily ferried through the plot by the graces of the adults around her.

    And what was up with Mrs. Coulter slapping her own daemon?

    Final note. They spoiled the entire premise of the second book with the opening lines: "There are many universes, and many Earths, parallel to each other."

  5. #5


    I liked the movie when it came out. Since reading the books, and seeing the movie again, I realize how incredibly superior the books are. Like you said, they were playing up the action- again, I think they were looking to Lord of the Rings with this.

    I always did wonder about about Mrs. Coulter slapping her dæmon, especially since it's clearly not in the book. My best guess is that they want to demonstrate the internal struggle Mrs. Coulter faces. The Golden Monkey shows well the sadistic malice inside her that drives her work with the magesterium, which is contrasted with her motherly love of Lyra. This is hardly evident in the The Golden Compass (save for the scene in Bolvanger), is entirely absent in The Subtle Knife, and is present in The Amber Spyglass but even I thought not well developed- I spent most of The Amber Spyglass honestly wondering about how she felt toward Lyra until the end.

    I'm not sure they spoiled the second book by introducing the Many Worlds hypothesis. They make it clear in the opening sequence in the Retiring Room (book version) that there are parallel universes.

  6. #6


    I read the book series twice long before I even knew that there was going to be a movie. I personally loved the book a lot, but it did not affect my religious ideals at all. Probably because I'm not religious. It's still one of my favorite books of all time, and it's the book that got me into reading. I loved the movie a lot, but I agree that it didn't have any of the cool deep meanings. I also agree that if it tried to it would have ruined the movie. I also love the fact that it ended early, I personally think that was a better ending spot than the book. When I first read the subtle knife, I honestly thought I was reading a different book because it was in a completely different setting. If the book ended where the movie did, I would not have had that problem.

    I do love the idea that god was a liar. The whole land of the dead scene was such a cool idea; I loved it.

  7. #7


    The books are one of the best series I have ever read. The movie... I liked it simply because it was part of the series. It didn't do much justice to the book, though. I can see what you mean about the Neo-pagan ideals echoed in them, however unintentionally it might be. The "Dust", or Neutrinos. Energy, mayhaps?

  8. #8



    I think the transition to Will's world was somewhat awkward, but honestly, I also think it was going to be awkward no matter what (unless Pullman just explicitly said "Ok, we're in a new world now"), so I'm alright with it. Though if I was writing it, I would have had Lyra meet Will from her point of view, then flashback to Will's POV and how he came to Cittàgazze. I think that would have been clearer.

    I'm not sure I agree with God being a liar, though I do so on a technicality- The Authority wasn't God, he was an angel (and the first one). He deceived all the angels that came after him by claiming to be God, and since he came into being first, they didn't know better. I interpret the true God to have been the Dust (on a collective basis).

    I loved the world of the dead, but I think my favorite setting was the Mulefa's world. Also, Mary got off easy compared to everyone else. Lyra recreated original sin. Will helped and spent half of two books bleeding to death. Mary got to take a fucking research sabbatical.

  9. #9


    The movie was rushed.

    Near zero character building.

    I hate what I see as the only true expression of Christianity that is why I gleefully read through the book. I also enjoyed the story despite some of it's odd religion supporting story plots.

  10. #10


    Oh gosh, I LOVE His Dark Materials. Its one of the two book series that defined my childhood (whit Harry Potter).

    Anyway, I am unsure to this day if HDM had any impact on me becoming an atheist or not. I think that its the third book of the series that really introduced my to the concept, so maybe there is a connection there.
    But anyway, the movie was terrible. I actually taught the acting was pretty good (well, Craig was not what I imagined for Lord Asriel but, for me, Dakota Blue and Kidman where exactly how I imagined Lyra and Ms. Coulter), but to this day I cannot accept that they completely changed the order of the climax and that they took out the F*&%&#G ENDING!

    But ya, HDM will always have a special place in my heart.

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