Monday, December 17, 2007

The Golden Compass

My wife and I went to see "The Golden Compass" Friday night. Frankly, I don't see what all of the fuss is about. I didn't see anything in it even remotely anti-religious. Without spoiling the movie, the basic premise of the storyline is about a group of people, the Magisterium, who are trying to dominate the world by taking away free will and the fight to oppose them. Isn't that a good moral lesson? What's so anti-religious about that?

Anyway, I wasn't even going to mention it in my blog as I don't have any strong feelings about it either way. Then, I read a comment by one of so many in response to Max Power's recent post - and it hit me. We have a Magisterium in this world too!

We have the zealots on the religious right who want to define how the world should be for all of us. They want to approve every TV show I watch, every movie I see. They want to approve what books I should read. They want to approve of what products I purchase. They want to approve of how I spend my free time. In essence, they want to remove my free will to live my own life as I see fit. By simply acknowledging I'm gay I am an abomination that shouldn't be allowed to exist.

But, we also have the wacko's on the left who seek to define how the world should be. They want to police my speech and the things I'm allowed to say. They want to take control of my money and how it is spent. They also want approval rights on the products I purchase, the books I read. In essence, they want to remove my free will to live my own life as I see fit. By acknowledging I'm gay and not acting on my natural passions, I am mocked and belittled and told that I am being dishonest with myself and everyone else.

Yes, we even have a Magisterium within the rank and file membership of the LDS church. These are people who would be utterly appalled and disgusted if they ever were to become aware of the Mormon queerosphere.

Overall, the movie was OK. Not bad, but not great either. I'm sure I'll go see the sequel (and, believe me, there will be a sequel - one of my beefs is how abruptly the movie ended). There were some continuity problems in the story that kind of bugged me (some things probably ended up on the cutting room floor that might have explained things better). Perhaps if I read the books. Although, apparently, the books upon which The Golden Compass is based are more blatantly anti-religious (anti catholic, to be more precise) than the movie; but, I only know this because the religious right Magisterium told me so.

BTW, does this remind anyone else of John Gustav-Wrathall?

And John, I hope you take this as a complement, as it is intended.


Scot said...

We saw the movie when it came out (as was required by Secularist HQ). I agree with your take. The books, as I understand (by not reading them :-)), seem to be aimed at the Catholic Church. Religion with a centralized command is broadly criticized, whereas there’s a sort of benign spiritualism in the rest of the mythology. In this way, I can kind of see why I’ve mainly heard of organized protests from Catholics and LDS, though the Baptists and Muslim groups seem to be less concerned.

One of So Many said...

Most of the time I don't think I say anything important.

The political spectrum as I see it is really a circle. Go too far left and you end up on the right and vice versa. It's really all about control.

Why do you think the majority of Americans are within one standard deviation of the middle?

The movie looked a bit interesting, but after your review...maybe I'll just rent it.

Abelard Enigma said...

It's really all about control.

You're right, it all comes down to different manifestations of the same thing - hence, the Magisterium

Most of the time I don't think I say anything important

Don't be so hard on yourself. I don't think I say much of importance either.

The movie looked a bit interesting, but after your review...maybe I'll just rent it.

I don't mean to disparage the movie. It's OK, maybe 3 stars (out of 5). I don't regret seeing it in the theater (which I have done with other movies); although, I am wishing I had gone to a different theater where I could have seen it for $4.00 rather than $8.00 :)

[əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟] said...

The main reason I went was because of total hottie Daniel Craig.

I also don't necessarily think that that the movie is anti-catholicism or -mormonism, but rather anti-middle ages-inquisition-witch burning-protestant murdering-indulgence selling-ultra political controlling-reading prohibiting-type-institution.

Potentate said...

Spoilers may follow, if you care.

. . .

They must have changed a lot if the movie isn't blatantly anti-religion. As a reader, though, you didn't necessarily understand that until the second book (when Lyra's world got connected with ours/Will's) or the third book (where the good guys actively started fighting--and winning against--God), so if there are going to be sequels, they might not have gotten too far into the story. I haven't seen the movie, so I don't really know.

And the Magesterium was definitely Catholic.

draco said...

I was a little disappointed with the movie, although Nicole Kidman made a perfect Mrs. Coulter- she's such a hottie! The books, to be sure, are much better. I recommend them to anyone.

I think the mass emails protesting this movie are beyond stupid.

Anonymous said...

For a lot of non Catholic Christians, it is hard to see what the big deal is.

I personally haven't seen the movie, but as far as I can tell, the Magisterium (who are the bad guys in the movie, I hear) makes a direct reference to the Catholic church.

See wikipedia link:

Max Power said...

I saw the movie this weekend. I thought it was horrifically boring. It was beautiful, and Nicole Kidman was gorgeous. But, it was boooooring.

I read the book in anticipation of the movie. I really enjoyed it. But, as I think about it, the book was just as boring as the movie. What I did like about the book was the author's writing style. I just loved it.

Haven't read the second and third ones yet, so I can't say anything about the anti-religious content there. But, personally, I think that the whole hubbub about the movie was germinated by the movie studio itself when they saw the finished product and realized how boring it was. They knew they would have poor customer retention after the first week, so they tried to get everyone to go see it at once and make all their money then.

Abelard Enigma said...

They knew they would have poor customer retention after the first week

It's true, when we saw it there were only 4 people in the theater - my wife and I were half of the entire audience!

I agree, it was slow, and I had a hard time feeling much empathy for the hero's.

J G-W said...

I liked it for the same reason you did.

I thought the movie was right in harmony with Mormonism. Mormon cosmology boils down to a struggle between those who oppose free choice (Satan and his minions) and those who believe it must be the basis for all human progress (Christ and those who sided with him in the War in Heaven).

(And BTW, you just won MAJOR brownie points, comparing me to Daniel Craig. :))