Noteworthy: “The Golden Compass”

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this trailer for some time now (click on the picture for a link)…

The Golden Compass, the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, has followed in the foots of The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter— huge massive books of biblical proportions written by some brilliant British folk turned into fantastic movies. There must be something in the water over there (perhaps that’s why I’m so eager to get back).

I read the His Dark Materials set back in 2001/2002. My mom gave me them to me for Christmas. Looking back, they were barely acknowledged on bookshelves here as being future-classics (but isn’t that just the way? ha). When I went for my masters in Cardiff– BAM! Pullmania! My butter-thief of a flatmate, James, told me that Pullman’s series was held in higher regard than Rowlings over there. As a huge Potter-fan, that was an interesting tidbit of news and a tough pill to swallow. But low and behold… people spoke about Harry with child-like excitement, but whispered about Lyra with awe and reverence. On trains & in the tube, adults carried adult-inspired-covers to both sets of series, while kids carried around the colorful child-created-covers. I saw Pullman’s HDM series everywhere– on television in interviews, book stores, and posters. Imagine my surprise when I returned after my Masters to see that the US still hadn’t even glanced the HDM way. Strange.

Pullman’s book series is an amazing adventure– and in fact, its a retelling/reworking of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Complex, daring, colorful, imaginative, and scary. A romping rollercoaster ride across worlds sooooo like our own, yet twisted– like the difference between a lime and a lemon. Like HP, the HDM series made the gritty shadows that once seemed so dark and scary– bright with underworlds and possibility… and ALMOST safer than the light.

My main reservation with the HDM series surrounded the books use as “Church” as the villian. Not because of any personal religious opinions… but mainly because “Church” is a often used as a moral compass/guide for youth. I just… hmmm. For a book series created for YA (young adults), to pinpoint something that’s at the center of a lot of families moral core, I don’t know– let’s just say a yellow flag pops up. It’s not a “don’t read this” flag– but just a caution. Parents: this book series will bring up a lot of questions regarding faith for children, so be prepared. Oh, yeah, and there’s that little ole section in the third book about Lyra losing her virginity… but actually, Pullman pulls that off quite well (and very vague). Regardless, the HDM series brings up amazing questions for clever youth wanting to dig deep into the complex layers of this great series (perhaps as deep as the kids at both mugglenet.com & leakynews.com).

**As for the exclusive trailer on Yahoo?** AMAZING! Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter & Daniel Craig as Azreal?! Can’t get better casting that that! Ms. Kidman is the BEST possible choice. I can’t think of ANYONE better for that creepy/gorgeous role. Smart. Smart. Smart.

It is not yet rated– which to me is quite interesting. I’m very eager to see how they work THAT… Why? Because it’s not really for the youngin’s– there are some scary scary moments. Like HP, this series DOES NOT shy away from death (I suppose neither did Narnia, but in TCON all the characters came back to life).

As for the website, gorgeous. A Englishman narrator explains the basics of Lyra’s world (his voice reminds me of a stiff older man, intimidating and respected by adults… but beneath the skin secretly believes in magic and lights up at every opportunity to tell stories to children and try to make them believe while freakin’ them out a bit). You get to take a character quiz, identifying different elements of yourself to discover what your Daemon. Mine is Pelloneous, currently a Gibbon monkey. Since your “Daemon” is representative of your soul in the series, Pelloneous and I are two bits in a bop. We’re modest, competitive, spontaneous, responsible, and sociable. I suppose I can handle that 😉 If you take your daemon ID myspace code and implant it on your page– your friends can take the quiz FOR you, thus giving more information about who you are, and helping your Daemon settle into place. After 12 days, your daemon will take his (or her if you’re a guy) final form. Awesome. You can also play with Lyra’s Alethiometer– changing the dials, looking for the the truth. But remember– the symbols aren’t so easy to read. It’s a bit like reading Tarot cards, but since I get a kick out of that too– I love it.

Over all, the site is lovely, classic, respectful to the tone of the series, imaginative. No community, or community features– but there are plenty of fan sites for that.

I’m eager to see how this movie plays out (I’m quite a critic these days) and how America & the world embrace it. How about you?

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