December 6, 2007, - 4:10 pm

Early Review: “The Golden Compass”

By Debbie Schlussel
For over a month now, readers have been filling my inbox asking whether I’ve seen “The Golden Compass” (TGC). I saw it, earlier this week.
As you may have heard, TGC is under fire from the Catholic League and other conservative groups for being anti-Christian, as the book on which it is based is supposed to be. After seeing it, I can see their point. I’m not Catholic, and I don’t believe little kids–at whom this movie is aimed–will get anything anti-religious out of it. It’s been toned down enough so that they won’t really understand what’s going on. But to adults, the message is very clear.
Frankly, I thought the movie was long and boring, and I didn’t like it on its own artistic merits, religion aside. For young kids, I think it will be a little too scary. There is blood and fighting and it’s not a cute, cuddly movie. In fact, cute cuddly things are routinely choked to death or otherwise executed.


As for the Christian stuff, the movie doesn’t come out and say it’s “the Church,” or “there are religious leaders” who are against us. But to adults, it’s obvious. A group of men in long Black robes and collars (which look like Catholic religious leaders’ garb) are evil and the villains ones in this film, and they are from the Magisterium. And although their “symbol” is not a cross, it looks like a cross buried betweem several shapes. Although it is never really explained what the Magistereum is, I know that it’s a Catholic term. Nicole Kidman, who plays the Magisterium’s evil “agent,” explains to the film’s young heroine, Lyra:

They tell you how to live your life. But in a good way. . . . People need instruction.

In the movie, everyone has a “demon,” a soft, cute, cuddly animal that represents their alter ego. But a “demon” is supposed to be like your bad influence within your mind. We have that concept in Judaism, as well. It’s an evil part of your mind–not an external, cute, cuddly animal.
In the movie, the Magisterium is evil, villainous, and vicious. It kidnaps kids from their families, especially the poor, and separates the kids from their “demons” in some sort of scary shock therapy machine. And the Magisterium murders others. Lyra, the film’s child heroine, learns that the Magisterium took her away from her mother because she was born when her parents were not married. One Magisterium cleric tries to poison Lyra’s uncle.
That’s the essence of the anti-religious portion of this movie. It is populated by a lot of battle and fight scenes and computer-generated special effects and images, and has occasional appearances by Kidman and new James Bond, Daniel Craig.
But over all, it is boring. It may be a hit at the movies this weekend, but it won’t last.
It’s not just that it’s anti-religious. It’s that it’s boring and not of much interest. There’s no clear plotline. It just kind of wanders aimlessly from crisis to crisis and ends with yet another quest (in order to make a sequel–it’s based on a trilogy). They spent a lot of money on sets, costumes, actors, and special effects, but very little on substance.

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11 Responses

“Magisterium” is simply the teaching authority of the Church.
There are no jack-booted thugs who go around on orders from the Magisterium.
If a pope writes an encyclical, he can do it under the NOTION of the Magisterium. But, there is no “body” with this name.

Red Ryder on December 6, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Thanks, Debbie. My wife and I shall keep our money for better material. And they like to compare it to LOTR, what tripe.

Gary on December 6, 2007 at 5:21 pm

And besides, Nicole Kidman always walks like her skin is on sideways.

John Cunningham on December 6, 2007 at 5:33 pm

Does Kidman’s excessive plastic surgery work for her in this role, just like it did in Margot at the Wedding?

Red Ryder on December 6, 2007 at 5:35 pm

poor nicole..
has anyone sen her in an actual movie YET?
the best thing she’s ever done for me was ‘the others” but that was because the bumping on the floor while they jumped into bed after the lights were cut was a great way to scare people. but seriously, that movie was a reaction to 6th sense just as much as this is a LWW rip-off.
she is just completely unoriginal in every way and doesnt even thrill me anymore. even the scene when she ties herself up creeped me out.
when nut case chicks like she stop showing teeth in their smiles you know its getting close to train wreck.
meant to say that the idiot news had a story about la shish’s chaching getting indicated again.
have we ever decided wether or not this was all an inside job and that we were really using him as a counterspy or what?!
its really difficult for me to even watch the local news anymore as all the word readers sound like storybook readers at the library and make me want to fall asleep with my juicyjuice box.
” and the fairyprincess got a job in dc and let all of her buddies in to the kingdom..”

playertwo on December 6, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Debbie, no doubt you had a screening pass to see this. Thank you for this review. At our house we’d decided to skip it anyway.
Here’s hoping that the movies you see in the future are worth:
A) Your time
B) Your readers’ money

HelyeahWinnie on December 6, 2007 at 6:59 pm

But over all, it is boring. It may be a hit at the movies this weekend, but it won’t last.

nyone on December 6, 2007 at 10:03 pm

But over all, it is boring. It may be a hit at the movies this weekend, but it won’t last.

nyone on December 6, 2007 at 10:04 pm

I’m not so sure I’ve seen a single thing kidman has been in that I actually have liked. I avoid actors/actresses such as her that seem to choose bad movies to star in. Saves me a lot of money!

Highrise on December 7, 2007 at 4:12 am

I have just seen the movie. None of the 4 people I was with got the anti-religious theme, but they are not political. They got the daemons were your soul. All enjoyed it. Theater 1/3 full. A little slow in parts. Great special effects. LOTR light. N Kidman was good. I’ve see a lot worse for $9.50. Go see it if you need a night out and something to do. Don’t see what all the negativity is about.

smfish on December 9, 2007 at 2:08 am

Not demons, daemons. There is a difference.

JD Rhoades on December 9, 2007 at 1:14 pm

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