December 6, 2007, - 4:10 pm
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.
Tags: Catholic League, Daniel Craig, Debbie Schlussel, James Bond, Lyra, Magisterium cleric, Nicole Kidman, the Church, The Golden Compass