25 June 2007

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass

Please, please, please don't let them fuck this up. If you've somehow had the misfortune of never reading Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, perhaps this can serve as your wake up call. Come to think of it, I'm envious of you. I only wish that I could read them again for the first time.

Sometimes wrongly dismissed as KidLit or young adult fare, His Dark Materials is as dense and philosophical as anything I've read in the last few years. I'm not going to tell you what it's about, other than it could be considered a fantasy novel, but that would be wildly underestimating its density and breadth of scope.

I'll put it to you this way. I like the Harry Potter books (to which they are often compared). They're well written and entertaining. But they are to His Dark Materials as Danielle Steel is to Milan Kundera.

New Line took a big plunge and invested a lot of money to make this first movie, The Golden Compass. The trailer looks great, but I have my concerns about statements the director, Chris White, has made. Apparently all references to God and religion have been removed, when the book is very acutely focused on those themes (those and free will and self-determination). However, in the trailer, the word 'heresy' is spoken, which is in keeping with the book so who knows?

Check it out. And if you don't believe me about the intellectual heft of these books, read this interview with Pullman from the New Yorker.

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