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Review: The Golden Compass

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The Golden Compass was, from my deliberately non-Catholic point of view, not the least offensive. It is a fantasy, a story about a world similar to ours in a parallel universe, where a Magisterium attempts to rule the minds of the people, whose "souls" are represented as daemons taking the likeness of mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles ... depending on the fit to the character of the person. The special effects are magnificent, the casting is good, the acting is a little skimpy in places, the venues are replete with oddly familiar, yet nevertheless odd details, except the long sequence represented to be on the island of Svalbard in the Artic Ocean where talking polar bears are a featured and at least one very good looking witch materializes to help our young heroine through her mission. The furor from Christians about this movie is misplaced. Yes, the Magisterium could be thought to be the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, but equally and effortlessly it could be considered to be the Soviet or Chinese government. There is no display of theocratic activity, just some organization that wants to control minds and eliminate dangerous free will. The uproar from the Archdiocese of the Catholic church is a bad case of nerves I think. To fit into the picture portrayed of the Magisterium, the Bishop of Central Wisconsin has told his flock not to watch the movie. Quod erat demonstrandum! As for me, I am going to see it again. There's a lot of good cinematography in this movie and, because some yokel brought her one year old to the movie last night, I missed some of dialogue. I would not recommend this movie for children under 8 or 9 because of some of the vivid fantasy violence. Roaring polar bears are quite vivid! Why the "evil" character played by Nicole Kidman is named Ms. Coulter I cannot imagine! JB


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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)

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