Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Movie Review: The Golden Compass

This week I am reviewing a wonderful film that is based on a book that my mommy loves, Philip Pullman's "The Golden Compass," which is the first book in his trilogy "His Dark Materials." This is a good holiday movie because it has a lot of adventuring in snow with talking polar bears!

The Golden Compass (2007)
Directed By: Chris Weitz
Written By: Chris Weitz (Screenplay)
Philip Pullman (Novel)

In "The Golden Compass," we meet Lyra Belacqua, a little girl who is being raised by the scholars of Jordan College, at the request of her uncle, Lord Asriel. Lyra refuses to become a proper and educated lady, instead preferring to run wild with her best friend Roger who works in the kitchens, and the Gypsies who travel up and down the river outside the college. After a bet she places with the gypsy children, Lyra finds herself in the dressing room of the college . . . and sees someone put poison in her Uncle Asriel's wine. After coming out of her hiding place and warning him, her uncle tells her to hide again . . . and to keep her eyes open and her mouth shut. Hiding in the wardrobe again, Lyra watches her uncle's presentation to the scholars, and first hears about the thing that will change her life forever: dust.

Lyra's world is a world parallel to the one we beans and furries live in now. The major difference between our worlds is that in Lyra's world, bean's souls walk beside them in the form of animals. These soul animals are known as daemons. Lyra's daemon's name is Pantalaimon, or Pan for short, and since Lyra is still a child Pan can change shape depending on his mood . . . but once a bean grows up, their daemon chooses one form and never changes again. For example, Uncle Asriel's daemon is a beautiful and dangerous snow leopard named Stelmaria.

And it appears that, according to what Lyra learns from her uncle's presentation, that daemons settling into one shape, and other parts of maturing and becoming an adult, all have to do with the mysterious particles known as "dust" that filter into her world from ours and a million other worlds . . . and which can be seen in the far north, in the northern lights.

Soon after Lyra makes this discovery, a strange and beautiful woman, Mrs. Coulter, comes to the college to take Lyra away with her on an expedition to the far north. Before she leaves, Lyra is entrusted with a golden compass by the scholars of Jordan College, but is warned that Mrs. Coulter must never know that she has it. Who is Mrs. Coulter, what does she want with Lyra, and can Lyra trust her?

Lyra has many adventures, all of them thrilling and dangerous, and she makes many brave and wonderful friends along the way, including Iorek Byrnison, one of the armored bears of Svalgard in the far north, and Serafina Pekkala, a witch of the far north.

While the books have been classified as young adult, and the movie itself marketed for an even younger crowd, it has to be said that in truth both are more adult in terms of the concepts that are introduced. While young beans will enjoy the talking animals, grown beans will be intrigued by the story itself. "The Golden Compass" takes on physics, religion, philosophy, and spirituality and questions them all. While this is done more so in the books, it is definitely touched upon in the movie. "The Golden Compass" is a visually stunning and thought-provoking movie, all presented in the guise of a children's fantasy. I give "The Golden Compass" two paws up and a whisker spread. I also suggest that if you love to read well-written fantasy, and have not yet read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, then you should definitely give it a try. Philip Pullman is a totally pawsome author!

15 meows:

mog said...

Read the books and loved them, still haven't seen the movie. Must watch movie. How faithful is the movie to the book? Nice review. I'm guessing you watched it at home as they don't usually let cats in movie theaters. :)

Cheysuli and gemini said...

My husband found the movie difficult to follow. A warning to those who read the Pullman books, they are very dark--not a delightful fantasy. We found the first book good, the second dark and the third was downright depressing. We really have to wonder why they were considered children's books at all.

Camie's Kitties said...

Mom wants to read the books. She always reads books before watching their movies. That is why we haven't seen Lord of the Rings yet - it is on her to do list of books to read.

Great review as usual.

Tavi, Cody, Camie and Miss Jade

Sweet Praline said...

Mom listened to all three of the books on CD while she was traveling. Mom says she agrees with Cheysuli and Gemini mom and dad about the movie and the books. Unless you have read the book, the movie can be a little difficult to follow because so much had to be left out. Mom loved the first book, but also thought the second and third books were depressing.

Daisy said...

Oh wow, that sounds really good. I think I will try to get the book and then see the movie.

Mickey said...

Tybalt,that was a great review. The comments are very informative too!!
Mom is always looking for neat books,and this set sounds like some she will read. She is curious now ;)
Purrs Mickey

Anonymous said...

WE seen this movie when it first came out.. we loved it alot too!! :)


Sweet Praline said...

I left you an award on my blog today. Please feel free to come by and get it.

The Fluffy Tribe said...

hmmm Mom may have to watch this movie Tybalt, it sounds very good ~the Fluffy Tribe

4 Boys and a Lady said...

This trilogy is next on our mom's reading list. They're holding off on the movie until they read it.

Thank you for the great review!

Nermal, Nico, Virgil, Westley, & Mags.

Sassy Kat said...

I will h ave to check this movie out after this week. This promised to be a busy time at the studios.
Big day tomorrow! Thanks for all of your hard work.

The Cat Realm said...

Tybalt - I just wanted to thank you for the great great work you put into the character of Mr. Kroesus! Only a wonderful and talented actor like you could have brought him to life like you did! Thank you!

Alasandra said...

We love the books. We have read all three. We also read Once Upon a Time in the North. It's about how Lee meets Iorek Byrnison. ~Socks, Scylla & Charybdis

Samantha and Mr. Tigger said...

Oh yes, it was a great movie and Mom listened to all the CD's, including Once Upon A Time in the North! And she agrees it was very dark and depressing!
Your FL furiends,

Everycat said...

We loved the books, as they kept Mum sitting still a long time and that meant more lap time!

Win Win!