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Sunday, June 08, 2008
Movie: The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass is a fantasy movie based on the novel by Phillip Pullman of the same name (also known as Northern Lights in some places).
Lyra is a little girl who's uncle, Lord Asriel, brought her to live at Jordan College while he travels, questing after the sources of the mysterious "Dust" (Dust is consciousness, or awareness of the world around you and all of its possibilities), which is treated as a threat. While there she gets into all kinds of mischief with her Daemon, Pantalaimon, and her friend Roger. Everyone in this world has a Daemon, which is the outward expression of a person's soul. While young, the Daemon's are constantly changing form (Pantalaimon had at least 3 or 4 different shapes during the movie I believe), but settle into their permanent form once the person is an adult. Lyra's uncle Lord Asreal Lyra meets the acquaintance of Mrs. Coulter, who takes a liking to her and wants to take her North. Lyra is all for this, as that's where Lord Asriel has once again taken off for, and she really wants to learn more about what "Dust" is.
In the meantime, children and their Daemons have been disappearing, and it's been blamed on a group only known as the Gobblers. Lyra, insatiably curious as always, discovers notes in Mrs. Coulter's study that she believes links her to this frightening group, and escapes from the house, to be rescued by the Gyptians, who have been watching out for her all the time she has been at the college. That's when Lyra discovers that another her friends, who was a Gyptian, has disappeared.
The Master of the College had given Lyra a very special device before she left, the alethiometer, or golden compass, that only certain people can read, of course Lyra turns out to be one of these. The golden compass shows the truth of things. Using this, they find out that the children are in a place called Bolvanger, and so the group of Gyptians heads North to try and rescue them, enlisting the aide of an Aeronaut (Scorsby) and an Armored Bear (Iorek) along the way.
My initial impression of the movie was very good, though much simplified from the book I think. Also a few things happened out of order, and in different ways, but that's almost always the case when taking something from a book to a movie. "Dust" was not well explained in the movie, it was shown that they all felt threatened by it, but not really why, though by end you could kind of get the idea that was basically free will/consciousness. Lord Asriel has a much smaller part in the movie than in the book, but I think the movie ended sooner than the 1st book of the trilogy. The effects were very good, on the daemons and the bears. I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it, though it is a lot toned down from the book, just as a warning (which in some ways was better for me, because there were a few parts of the book that really bothered me, just because they were painful and sad). I think it's a good beginning of a trilogy/series, and hope they make another one, though I haven't read book 2 yet!