Thursday, January 3, 2008
The Golden Compass
I just got back from watching "The Golden Compass" with the family, good times, good times.
I'm the only one in the family that has read the books by Philip Pullman, they are some of my favorite YA books of all time. In many ways similar to Harry Potter, but the writing is more sophisticated and a much more subtle form of story telling. Where Harry Potter leans to imaginary magic to elicit a fantastic world, Pullman creates a "magical" world with concepts of quantum physics.
A brief synopsis of the story for those of you who haven't read the book: Lyra, a girl of about 10, is being raised at a University as an orphan at the behest of her Uncle Azrael. In this world, a person's soul is not inside them, but in the form of an animal companion called a daemon. Her best friends are Roger, a kitchen boy, and Billy, a Gyptian boy (kind of like gypsies). The school is trying to educate her and turn her into a lady, but being a precocious, independent and cunning lass, she is having none of it. Everyone is hearing rumors of these horrible creatures, the Gobblers, that are taking poor kids off the streets. The Gobblers take her friends Roger and Billy, this helps start Lyra on a great adventure that takes her on a journey to the great mysterious North to fight the Gobblers. Before setting out on her adventure, she receives a "Golden Compass", a device that allows her to ask questions and find the truth. On the way, she gets help from the Gyptians, a Texas Aeronaut, and an armored bear. The Gobblers are a part of a bigger organization that is afraid of a substance called Dust and doesn't want anyone to know about the parallel world that can be seen in the North. I have, of course, left out details and spoilers.
This is one of the best adaptations of a book to film I've seen in some time. It made exposition as concise and clear as possible, though some of the complexities and plot twists are lost. There were large parts of conversation in the film that came directly from the book. They did a great job of bringing some of the subtleties from to book into the film using the daemons. The girl playing Lyra fit her description to a T and did a great job as well. In fact, the whole cast was fabulous. Great cinematography and use of CGI. They definitely left the end open for the sequel, in fact they stopped the movie before the end of the first book.
The whole family can enjoy the story and adventure, though I wouldn't recommend for kids under 6, they would probably get bored during the story developing segments. I think the husband's favorite part was the fight between two armored bears. I'm not sure which part was my favorite, I think my favorite moments actually contain spoilers for the plot, so I guess they'll have to remain secret.
Go and see this movie.
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