One day, a long long time ago (1995, in fact) in a galaxy, far, far away (somewhere in Oxford) there was a man called Philip Pullman. Philip liked to write. In fact, he wrote a whole book. This book was called, ‘Northern Lights’. At the time of it’s publication, Northern Lights won the Carnegie medal, an unparalleled literary honour in itself, which should give an indication as to it’s grandness right away.
Being the first in a trilogy, the book was followed by two more books, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It didn’t take too long for the trilogy to become quite well known. Not just because of the fact that it pissed off several religious groups, completely reversed the traditional Christian notion of good and evil, and became the anti – Narnia, but also because the storytelling and writing within this trilogy is next to none in terms of sheer skill.
Naturally, with such fame (and with the wonderful hint of infamy) film-type-people started looking into how to turn these well known books into a film, as film-type-people are prone to do.
Northern Lights is in production right now, under the American title, ‘The Golden Compass’. Which is irksome in itself, there is no Golden Compass in the book, but regardless.
If you are anything like me, you will love books. Perhaps you have already read the series, and understand just how easy it is to become irreversibly drawn into it, how easy it is to become passionate about it, how easy it is to want to defend it against the trained monkeys that are pulling it apart as we speak.
These books are amazing, mainly due to the fact that what you get out of them depends substantially on your age and maturity. You can read it when you are young, and find a captivating story about witches, bears, faraway lands, mythical creatures, and a journey to a foreign land. Then you can read it when you are older, and experience the powerful anti-religious message that you never knew was there when you were younger. This is what makes this book so valuable, the way in which it may be one book, but it’s more than one story. On one part, it’s a children’s story. On the other, it’s an intelligent, well sculpted, finely written anti religious message.
Anyway, I was kind of excited to learn that they are to be made into a film. Perhaps because of all the publicity it would get. But I have discovered many things that are to be done to this book, and I have found not a one good thing.
This upcoming film is going to butcher these works of art. Think about Harry Potter. If you have half a brain, you will already know what terrible things those films did to such wonderful books. Expect a similar thing, but on a much larger scale. This film is going to make any one of the Harry Potter films look like a well crafted, well acted, intricate masterpiece of film making, a sheer paragon of an interpretation of book to screen. Oh yes. I kid you not.
And why are these beloved books going to be slaughtered so? Many reasons. Mostly, because all religious references are to be removed, before it is deemed fit to grace our screens. It’s too controversial, you see, to put something up on the screen for the masses to see which displays such potent hatred for Christianity. Now, why is this a problem? Because the entire story is a very strong anti religious message.
To do this to it, would be like –
Making a Harry Potter film and completely editing out all references and utilization of magic, for fear of offending those who may not be comfortable with witchcraft.
Making a film out of Anton Lavey's life story, while cutting out the Satanic parts, for fear of offending people who might be uncomfortable with the references to Satan and the Church of Satan..
Making a film about the concentration camps in WWII, while taking out the Nazis, and the Jews, for fear of offending people who are not comfortable with references to the Holocaust.
Remaking The Sound of Music, while omitting all the songs, because some people just don’t like to see songs.
The point? There is no point.
Have a look at this, please excuse my French, or cover your ears. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/4077987.stm
"They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity," Weitz told a His Dark Materials fans' website
What the hell? Did he read the books with his eyes closed? Possibility of perceived anti religiosity…
The bad guy of these novels is later revealed to be god himself, and the people are worried that they might appear to be anti religious. Oh well done you, have yourself a gold star. The whole sodding book is against religion, especially Christianity. And you, what, perceived that there might be a smidgeon of a teeny bit of anti religion creeping into the story...Oh, *clap clap clap* well done you, very astute. Did you also pick up on the cast of the film version of Watership down being almost made up entirely of bunny rabbits? Oh you did? Well you're just too clever, aren't you?
I knew this was going to happen....I know Philip Pullman says that he doesn't believe it, but you know it's going to happen. Just look at what happened to Harry Potter, and the Christian crazies who tried to get it banned because of it’s alleged connections with paganism and witchcraft. The fact that Christianity is based on Paganism seems to bother these crazies not, they still think that Harry Potter is evil. And we all know that Harry Potter is just a load of harmless fluff. If they’re that worried by the tame Harry Potter, then imagine what His Dark Materials will cause.
Anyway, there is not even a slim chance that the message portrayed in the books will make it onto screen. Not bloody likely. It will end up like a pretty story, with armoured bears, beautiful witches, and talking animals. I swear I saw a Disney film like that once.
The fact that Lyra and Will are a metaphor for Adam and Eve will be lost, cut and edited out, as will Pullman’s own personal interpretation of what should have happened at the moment of temptation. A moment that was quite revolutionary not only in literary terms, but in terms of the modernization of religious interpretation.
Here is my interpretation of what is going through these filmmakers’ minds. - "Well, no, we can't possibly make anything biblical look bad. For we have no backbone, no respect for works of art, nor for the particular piece of work that we are currently butchering. And as for the fabulous homosexual angels? Nuh uh. You can kiss goodbye to them, too. What, us, show gay people on screen? Don't be preposterous! We must crush them out of society too, for they are almost as foul as the bible bashers and single mothers!"
"But there may be some modification of terms."
"Hi, what I am really saying is that near everyone in this world, including my weak self, is far too gutless to tell the world what terrible terrible things this religion has done to people, and exactly what Christianity is or even portray the truth through someone else's book, so I will be replacing the word 'God with 'Mr X' or some other vulgar name like that." (edit: it will most likely be ‘The Authority’ - whatever that means)
You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush's America.
I recognise this challenge but feel that by not standing up to Bush’s redneck theocracy currently running America New Line and the film are directly going against the message of the book. The book is about standing up to oppressors and freedom and wisdom and by the very act of not meeting this challenge the very film that is supposed to be portraying the book is going against it. It is a cowardly, ugly and stupid thing to do, bending over to satisfy the people with the bible wedged up their arse.
Weitz, who directed American Pie and About A Boy, said New Line feared that any anti-religiosity in the film would make the project "unviable financially".
Oh, well when you put it like that... Just don't do it then! Would you make a film of the bible, and take out all of the religious figures, because you might offend those of other religions? "No you wouldn't." Why? "Because it's a stupid idea. If you did that, you wouldn't have a film. And what kind of moron would do that? Ha ha ha ha....oh wait just a darn tootin' minute....ain't that what we're doing?"
These are some of the best books in the world and once (not 'if') these filmmakers destroy this great message/story/epic masterpiece too, I will lose my faith entirely in the filmmaking industry and possibly set about bashing some heads together and boycotting film adaptations.
So, to summarise, what we are left with, is an empty shell, a parody of a masterpiece. A butchery of fine literature. This film will be a crowd pleaser. This is oppression in action. Oppression of what? Free thinking, and the right to hate religion. Philip Pullman recently objected strongly to the Religious Hatred Bill attempting to be put into UK legislation by the Blair government for this very same reason. The Right To Hate Religion.
I take the censorship of my favourite books as a personal insult. People who promote the same message as me, must be oppressed into the ground, and stomped out. We are not all shiney happy people. Some of us, hate religion. And we do not appreciate our right, yes, our right, to enjoy seeing anti religious messages so beautifully portrayed taken away from us.
Philip Pullman, snap out of it, and take the film rights away from these trained monkeys. Don't let them get away with it. Don't let the people who are too lazy to read and interpret your books think that you are a simpleton who writes about pretty witches and armoured bears and transforming animals. Don't let the film makers make you look like that. Because they will.
Think about the gross double standards. You may have seen the recent film adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Again, anybody with half a brain, will know how the Narnia books are not only pretty stories, but they are also undeniably Christain propaganda. I have no problem with this, I don’t have to read/watch it if I don’t want to. But my point is, the book in all it’s entirely was translated to screen without having any of it altered or edited out. Aslan is Jesus. Aslan/Jesus sacrifices himself for Edmund’s sin/The sins of the people. The white witch sacrifices/crucifies him, and Aslan/Jesus is resurrected the next day, etc etc, that was all there. It’s Christian propaganda.
So how come you can publish Christian propaganda but you can’t publish anti-Christian propaganda? That seems a little unfair and hypocritical to me, to put it mildly.
Don't forget, kiddies, we all have freedom of speech. It's just that some have more freedom than others.