The Golden Compass movie: not atheist enough?

Andy Rau

Here's a quick follow-up to Mikey's weekend post about The Golden Compass, a movie that some Christians claim is atheist propaganda aimed at kids. Well, apparently atheist fans of the book have something to be mad about, too:

One of the key religious themes of Philip Pullman's award-winning series of children's novels, His Dark Materials, has been watered down to appeal to a wider audience in the new Hollywood film version of the first book. The original story's rejection of organised religion, and in particular of the historic abuse of power in the Catholic Church, has been altered to avoid offending followers of the faith in the UK and in America.

The film, which stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, is called

The Golden Compass after the American title of Pullman's novel Northern Lights and has followed his magical narrative very closely in most respects. The characterisation of the sinister organisation known as the Magisterium has, however, been changed, so that the film will now appear to be a more general attack on dogmatic authorities of every kind.

For years, it has been Christians worrying that Gospel-friendly elements in their favorite books will be diluted by the film versions to avoid offending mainstream culture. (I heard these fears, sometimes justified, raised by Christians about The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, End of the Spear, and Children of Men, just to name a few off the top of my head.) I'm not sure what it says about the state of the "culture wars" that our atheist neighbors now get to experience the joy of watching their literature get watered down because Hollywood thought it would sell better to the American public. More here:

Ironically, secularists have criticized the movie for precisely the same reason, complaining that the filmmakers are "taking the heart" out of Pullman's epic by undermining its irreligious themes.

All of which prompted Pullman to observe in a recent interview, "This must be the only film attacked in the same week for being too religious and for being anti-religious -- and by people who haven't seen it."

Topics: Movies, Culture At Large, Arts & Leisure, Entertainment