Art and Entertainment


‘The Golden Compass’ Is a 24-Karat Controversy

December 11, 2007 01:53 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Catholic League is urging Christians to boycott the film “The Golden Compass,” claiming the movie promotes atheism among children.

30-Second Summary

The controversy surrounding the film "The Golden Compass" was bubbling over well before the movie opened this weekend, on Dec. 7.

Based on the novel of the same name, the first in the bestselling fantasy trilogy "His Dark Materials" by British author Philip Pullman, the film was guaranteed to receive tremendous interest from both child and adult fans.

Like the books, the movie has also garnered a large number of detractors, who object to the novels’ firm stance against organized religion, and what some perceive to be an attack by Pullman—a very vocal atheist—on Christianity in particular.

"The Golden Compass" tells the story of Lyra, an intrepid tween who lives in an alternate-world version of Oxford, England, where every human soul is manifest in a visible animal form known as a daemon.

When children, including Lyra’s friend Roger, begin disappearing from England she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, travel to the far north to rescue them. She is aided by various new friends, including a witch and a talking polar bear, and her ability to read the alethiometer, a rare and greatly coveted compass-like object that has the power to sift truth from lies. Opposing her is the Magisterium, a powerful, sinister government organization that in the novel is an instrument of the Catholic Church.

Reviews of the film report that the screenwriter has almost entirely eliminated the role that religion plays in the story.

However, the Catholic League’s president, Bill Donohue, continues to advise parents to boycott the movie, fearing that the film will encourage children to pick up the books, and thus absorb what he believes to be the series’s atheistic message.

Headline Link: ‘The Golden Compass’ and Religion

Background: Catholic League organizes protest

Reactions: The author responds

Opinion & Analysis: Is Pullman promoting an atheist message?

Reference Material: Bookstore, movie Web site and publisher

Key Player: Philip Pullman

Related Links: Other controversial books and films

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