Here’s an interesting headline I saw today:
In adapting Philip Pullman’s novel, New Line is in a tight spot between the book’s true-believer following and those who find it anti-religious.
I just started re-reading The Golden Compass (I read it a while back but didn’t remember more than the gist). Has anyone else gotten started? I was wondering what they’d do in the movie, seeing that the bad guys in the book are essentially the Catholic Church. Of course,
the Church is some Catholic activists are predictably pissed off:
Earlier this month, [conservative, Catholic League President William Donahue] called on Christians to boycott the movie because it will “seduce” parents into buying Pullman’s “pro-atheist” book.
The whole article is long and interesting. Some fans are also planning to boycott the movie for a different reason. They’ve heard that the script departs from the book too much. All I can say is, “What do you expect?” Movies
never, hardly ever are as good as the book. Not even close. Not even LOTR, which I think were great films. It just doesn’t happen.(OK, so some commenters pointed out sucky books that were made into decent films.)
I remember in Chocolat that the creepy guy in the book was the priest, and in the movie they changed him to the Mayor and gave the town a mild-mannered, young, harmless priest. I thought it made the movie much less funny and less poignant than the book. But I still liked the film. (Well, it had Johnny Depp, what’s not to like?)
It seems that they’ve done the same thing in this film:
In the film, however, there’s no mention of the Church or Catholicism. The bad guys are known only as the Magisterium, which in fact is the term the Roman Catholic Church uses to describe its body charged with interpreting “the Word of God.” Weitz, who described himself on one fan site as “a lapsed Catholic crypto-Buddhist,” explained those changes to fans in 2004 as a way to allay the studio’s early concern that the “perceived anti-religiosity” of “His Dark Materials” would make the franchise “an unviable project.”
Kind of spoils the whole thing, doesn’t it?
Pullman, apparently, has said the books are not anti-Catholic. They take place in an alternate universe after all. I think perhaps the Church’s discomfort is the same problem they had with the DaVinci Code: They don’t understand the meaning of the word “fiction.” (Considering what they do belieive, that’s not really surprising.) Here’s what the author did have to say:
In a 2004 post still featured on his website Philip-Pullman.com, he wrote that his main quarrel is with the “literalist, fundamentalist nature of absolute power” and “those who pervert and misuse religion, or any other kind of doctrine with a holy book and a priesthood and an apparatus of power that wields unchallengeable authority, in order to dominate and suppress human freedoms.”
NEW: Here’s another interesting article with some choice quotes:
Pullman’s book trilogy is the story of “a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God,” BBC News reported. The Guardian, a British newspaper, goes even further to describe the books as “metaphysical fantasies encompassing parallel worlds, the death of God and the fall of man ….
“One of the [book] series’ main themes — the rejection of organized religion and in particular the abuse of power within the Catholic Church — is to be watered down,” according to the Telegraph, a newspaper in the U.K. “But when the film is released in December the Magisterium will be shown as a critique of all dogmatic organizations, thereby avoiding a religious backlash.”
(Well, my last big freelance project is just about wrapped up, so with any luck, I’ll be back to my blabbermouth-blogging self soon. I was going to nag Rebecca about updating the “what we’re reading” link on the side of the page until I saw the photo of her black eye. Ouch!)