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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Golden Compass (review)

Almost Golden

It’s a bit Cliffs Notes-y, I can say as a fan of Philip Pullman’s fiction, a fan not just of the story he’s telling in his fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials but of the simple, handsome elegance of his prose too. To be fair, screenwriter and director Chris Weitz (About a Boy) has taken a sprawling story with a large number of players and condensed it extraordinarily well, combining characters and compressing events in such a way that the adventure is not at all diminished, nor are Pullman’s powerful underlying themes of the importance of freethought and the vitality of an inquisitive, playful soul. All the essential elements of the story are here… they just feel a bit rushed, as if this were a tourist’s perspective on the escapades of Lyra Belacqua. If it’s 30 minutes into the film, this must be the fun-with-Mrs.-Coulter segment, as it were.
I understand why this is the case. The Golden Compass, the movie, could have been a more leisurely three-hour symphony, one that captured visually the grounded but poetic expressiveness of Pullman’s writing. But this ain’t Lord of the Rings, aimed at grownup literature geeks and fantasy nerds: it’s meant to be a two-hour family film, one with a little something for everyone from eight to eighty. If things had to be a bit crammed in and other things had to be elided over, however neatly and efficiently in the process, so be it.

All that said, this is a magnificent slice of cinematic fantasy, perhaps the most perfect blending of live action and CGI ever. As it must be for it to work. Young Lyra lives on an Earth just slightly to the side of ours, one in which humans keep their souls on the outsides of their bodies in the form of animal familiars called “daemons” — this is so fundamental an aspect of Pullman’s fiction, his people actually dual creatures of human-and-daemon, that if we couldn’t believe this, we couldn’t believe any of it. Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon, morphs his form — as all daemons of children do until they “settle” on one animal shape at adolescence — so beautifully as a CGI creation that he does indeed feel like an outward manifestation of Lyra’s personality, and there’s such character in his face, particularly in his favorite form as an ermine, that it seems impossible that he’s not real.

And the bears! The bears!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Orphaned Lyra (an auspicious debut by 12-year-old Dakota Blue Richards) lives a mostly unfettered life in the rambling world of Jordan College at Oxford University, looked over by the gentleman scholars at the behest of one Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig: The Invasion, Casino Royale), her remote and enigmatic uncle. Strange things are afoot: Asriel comes to Jordan to seek funding for an urgent exploratory trip to the mysterious North for reasons Lyra doesn’t understand — something to do with a substance called Dust — except to know that she wants to go along. This is refused, of course, but adventure of another kind comes calling when one of the college’s patrons, the sleek and sinister Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman: The Invasion, Happy Feet), adopts Lyra as her personal assistant — Mrs. Coulter, chance would have it, is also planning an expedition north, and that is all Lyra needs to know to sign on.

Though Lyra does not, of course, realize it, her new restlessness and curiosity about the larger world outside Jordan College is adolescence come knocking, and the wondrous thing about The Golden Compass — based on the first book of Pullman’s trilogy — is that it is an archetypal hero’s journey with a girl-child at its center, as its hero. This is a rare, rare thing: usually only the boys get to embark on such a grand and significant exploration of their own growing-up selves. Lyra is the literary sister of Frodo Baggins and Luke Skywalker (among many others), a secretly powerful child once hidden away and now blossoming into her power and yearning to break free of the protections that have coddled her. And the One Ring and the Force have their match in the alethiometer, the “golden compass,” a truth-telling device that comes into Lyra’s possession exactly when she needs it most, and when she is at exactly the right point in her own self-discovery to be able to use it. It will be her guide and comfort through encounters with Gobblers, child thieves and masters of ominous scientific experimentation; with panserbjorn, the intelligent, sentient armored bears of the North; with witches and aeronauts and gyptians and with truths about herself and her life of which she had no previous inkling.

Lyra is learning to become her own person: learning to think for herself. And this is what has some Christian fundamentalists like the Catholic League sputtering over The Golden Compass: author Pullman is a vocal atheist, and his fiction is forcefully, eloquently antiauthority — the attitude is very slightly more specifically anti religious authority in the books, but the point is still, well, pointed here. “There will always be freethinkers and heretics unless we deal with the root of the problem,” the head of the Magisterium, the ruling power of Lyra’s world, intones portentously — cracking down on such is the crux around which the action of the story revolves. If there’s one overarching theme that The Golden Compass harks on, it’s not “there is no God” but “authority brainwashes you on its way to stealing your soul.”

Think of the children! comes the cry of those would prevent impressionable children from seeing this delightful, if hurried, movie. Indeed. Imagine what horrors should befall them if we were to let them think for themselves. They might even be moved to read the book the film is based upon.

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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  • Wonderful review, MaryAnn! I’ve been so worried about this film, especially now that most critics have panned it – though Roger Ebert gave it FOUR STARS, which has my hopes up considerably for when I see it tonight.
    I first read the books when I was Lyra’s age, and they have always been very important to me. If the next two books don’t get made into films, it’ll be a terrible tragedy.

  • Jurgan

    And Ebert’s a Catholic, no less. That, along with your nuanced review, assuages my fears that this was nothing more than a shirll anti-religious screed.

  • bats :[

    I’m hoping that when it is released to video, that there might be an extended edition or director’s cut, to add some length to it. I think this easily could’ve been the length of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (which I think went way over the 2-hour mark)…I guess it’s impossible to get through to the Powers That Be that a good story will hold a child’s interest.

    My husband and I are looking forward to this, to the point we were scouring the usual places for sneak peek passes.

  • Salon actually called it crap.

  • Mark

    Salon actually called it crap.

    What’s your point?

  • I find it funny how in Salon’s review, Stephanie Zacharek decries that the men of the Magisterium are portrayed as villainous because she percieved a gay vibe from them, but then she goes and makes a bitchy comment about Nicole Kidman looking like a drag queen. Wait, who is it that’s disparaging homosexuals again?

  • “What’s your point?”

    That Salon actually called it crap.

  • Ken

    ” To be fair, screenwriter and director Chris Weitz (About a Boy) has taken a sprawling story with a large number of players and condensed it extraordinarily well,”

    No! No he didn’t! This movie is the worst adaptation of anything I’ve ever seen! He condensed it into meaninglessness! Nothing in this movie makes the slightest bit of sense or is governed by any sort of rule and all of the characters are blank-faced ciphers and ARGHGHHGHGGHG

    I mean, Christ, you expect this incompetence from shoddy off-brand goods like “Eragon” or “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising,” but not this! Not this! I don’t understand how anyone could give this movie a thumbs up, but someone who’s actually read the Pullman books might be able to impose some logic on the freeform gibberish that is this movie.

  • Jared

    I went and saw it today and I totally agree with your review. There was a lot of condensing but none of it bothered me.

    On the other hand, I do have one quibble with the movie. It is not required to follow “alethiometer” with “or golden compass” every time the word is mentioned. After the first few times, the audience should understand that they are the same thing.

    Besides my minor quibble, almost everything else I liked: the casting was superb especially Lyra and Lee Scoresby, the CGI blended very well and made Lyra’s world appear to be a real alternate world, etc….

    On the religious issues, the Catholic League and the Magisterium seem to agree that children should be protected from becoming “freethinkers and heretics”.

    Interestingly, a Christian Science Monitor article bluntly states:
    In short, Pullman doesn’t tell his readers what to think, but how to think. And to think, period. This, I suspect, is what Pullman’s critics really find unnerving.

  • Maral

    I loved a lot of the movie – the casting was great, a lot of the sets were spot-on – but the pacing was terribly rushed as you mention, and a lot of things were not explained well which I’m sure leaves anyone not familiar with the source material either scratching their heads or just completely blank.

    Particularly: the human/daemon relationship wasn’t dealt with enough. When the taboo is broken it should affect us viscerally, and it doesn’t. The sequence with the bears was also truncated to the point that it had almost no impact or meaning.

    The ending, however, left me UTTERLY baffled. Especially since all the trailers featured scenes which are clearly from what was meant to be the original ending (true to the book), but for some unfathomable reason they decided to just cut off the last 15-20 minutes of the movie in favour of a vague happy ending.

  • Drave

    After having thought about it for a couple hours, I have decided that the director made an incredible movie, and as close to perfect an adaptation as was possible under the circumstances. And then some suit from New Line came in and mangled it. I have never before felt such a strong sense that what I was watching was not the movie the director made. We can only pray that the director’s cut survives to exist on DVD, because I really want to see that movie.

  • Barb Gorczyca

    I saw the movie yesterday afternoon and have mixed feelings on it. First, the photography was gorgeous as well as the CGI incorporation. To me, the first half of the movie was a bit slow and it took a while to understand the basic premise of it. The second half was much better but like Maral indicated the ending seemed to end abruptly (to me this points to New Line tampering with the final product instead of going with the director’s vision). From what I can gather, the ending was removed deliberately so that it could be tacked on to the sequel IF the movie is successful. So, unless the movie bombs (which I doubt), we won’t see the REAL ending for a couple of years. This is one of the things I was not happy about the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movies moved around parts of the story which were part of that section of the book.

  • Well, my day is ruined. Looks like we won’t be seeing the sequels. Box office for this film wasn’t good :(

  • MaryAnn

    in favour of a vague happy ending.

    I think that’s it exactly: they moved the ending of the book into the beginning of the next movie (if it ever gets made). I think that makes sense, though: it *is* the beginning of the next story.

  • Vergil

    Doesn’t it bother anyone that the “hero” of the story, Lord Asriel, doesn’t give two flips about his own child. And is just as willing to torture and kill another child as the ‘evil” Magisterium to achieve his goal? It must have bothered someone, as it apparently isn’t in the movie. This is just the pinnacle of the iceberg of problems with this series. It’s a little interesting, a little less fun, and a lot more dreadful (in the literal sense), and has a lot less to say about real issues than people give it credit for. It’s fantasy folks, not allegory, no matter what Pullman’s real-world views may be.

  • Jared

    Vergil,

    I never saw Lord Asriel as the hero. Nevertheless, he and Marisa Coulter appear to agree that the ends can justify the means. They both are willing to sacrifice children to achieve different “good” results.

    You may see this as a problem but for me it’s the reason that the series is so good. If the series portrayed Asriel as the good rebel and Mrs. Coulter as the evil dogmatist, the series would be trite. Instead, the series offers complex characters where, in my opinion, Mrs. Coulter becomes more sympathetic than Asriel.

    It must have bothered someone, as it apparently isn’t in the movie.

    If they make a movie of The Subtle Knife, I bet it will start with that scene. They just wanted to avoid a sad ending.

    It’s a little interesting, a little less fun, and a lot more dreadful (in the literal sense), and has a lot less to say about real issues than people give it credit for.

    The series is dreadful? I don’t see that at all. The series is about hope more than dread.

    Also, dogma and theocracy are real issues that this book addresses. It’s not offering a new dogma about dogma but it does offer a critique that is much needed.

  • Vergil

    I have to admit I’ve yet to read the third book, but I do know a bit about what happens at the end (living in the age of spoilers as we do), so I’ll reserve judgement on Asriel’s status until then. Yet it seems to make John Parry’s outrage at “cutting children” a bit trite when he is willing to follow Asriel who justifies the same thing.

    By dreadful, I don’t mean “bad” as the word has come to be used. I mean “full of dread”. The kids and the gobblers, the boy who was cut, the death of Robert, the kids watching their parents get attacked by the Specters…you may praise them for being un-Hollywood, but the couldn’t be any more full of dread if they were in a Stephen King story. It’s a matter of taste, but I’m not such a fan of King either. To say that it is a tale of hope certainly doesn’t endear it to me. The same could be said about the torture porn so in vogue. Those people are full of hope…hope that whatever is happening to them will end.

    Martin Luther was a critic of The Church. C.S. Lewis was a master of allegory. Jonathan Swift understood the use of satire. If “His Dark Materials” is ANYTHING other than a better than average fantasy, then it can only be categorized as a Wicked Witch of the West genre, because the only thing it does well is attack the strawman.

  • People have a tendency to overstate genius, when the words “good” or “really enjoyable” or “I loved it” will suffice. Too often, it backfires on the object of adoration and creates a backlash that consists of anything from “Well, I didn’t think it was that great” to “It’s not brilliant, it’s crap.” Such is the case with Pullman, who writes good books (far beyond His Dark Materials) for children. I love his work. It’s really enjoyable. If His Dark Materials is merely a good fantasy rather than a work of staggering brilliance, then that’s a pretty great thing to be.

  • MaryAnn

    Yet it seems to make John Parry’s outrage at “cutting children” a bit trite when he is willing to follow Asriel who justifies the same thing.

    So it makes Parry a complicated and contradictory person… just like many real people are? (Does Parry even know about Asriel’s cutting of children? I can’t remember.)

    What on Earth makes you think that Asriel is any kind of “hero”?

    because the only thing it does well is attack the strawman.

    Are you suggesting that religious authority/dogma is nothing but a strawman?

  • Vergil

    I’d say that the qualities of Asriel fit the usual characteristics of ‘hero’ in a story. Or perhaps an anti-hero. This is, of course, subjective. Like I said, I’ll reserve judgement until I read the last book. For a book that people claim is a commentary on religion, it seems to offer very little for comparison. If religion is ‘bad’, then what is ‘good’? What is the alternative? If everything is grey and everyone is wrong, then religion isn’t as bad as anything else.

    I’m not saying that religious authority is a strawman. I’m saying that the religious authority in the books is a strawman. People see the similarities and say “oh, that’s the Catholic Church!”. But that’s like calling the alethiometer a compass. Saying “religious authority is bad because look how they act!” is like PETA saying “we must save the polar bears because they are intelligent and can make really cool armor!” The ‘church’ in the books has some catholic symbolism, but that is far from allegory. Calvin becomes Pope? That right there should point to the emphasis being on free will as opposed to organised religion. Many people don’t seem to be able, or willing, to make the distinction, however. They are happy to rally around something they mistake as an attack on religion (or if not mistaken, a very poor attack) not because of it’s merits, but simply because it an attack on religion.

  • Vergil

    John,

    I’ve read reviews and commentary on many sites since the movie came out (and before). Yours was one of the most accurate and sensible I’ve read. You aren’t running for President by any chance? Not that you can win. I just want to be able to vote for someone.

  • Krow

    Do you get the impression that the Catholic League is really just that one sputtering, angry fellow we see on TV from time to time? I’m not all that sure there is a ‘league’… you know.

  • MaryAnn

    If religion is ‘bad’, then what is ‘good’? What is the alternative?

    Thinking for oneself. That’s pretty obviously Pullman’s point, I’d have thought.

  • Well, most religious people I do do think for themselves. They simply come to a different conclusion than you do, MaryAnn.

  • MaryAnn

    Unthinking adherence to dogma is not “thinking for oneself.” Note that I’m not saying that everyone who is religious is dogmatic, nor that people who aren’t religious can’t be dogmatic.

    Vergil makes the mistake of characterizing *His Dark Materials* as antireligion. Pullman doesn’t say “religion is bad” (though even if he does, it’s not necessarily a requirement that he posit a “good” substitute for it). Because that point had already been made, I didn’t think it was necessary to repeat it.

  • C

    MaryAnn, you ignorant slut.

    Thinking is fantastic. It’s the overthinking that gets pedophiles and child rapists six months of probation instead of serious imprisonment.

    Human corruption has polluted religion. Not the other way around. A free-thinking and open society will result in nothing more than different but likely similar evil only it will be more tolerated by the masses.

    Every new and exciting thing on this planet is created or discovered as a result of human inginuity. What’s more likely? We are a result of the inginuity of a higher being with similar motives (according to christianity we are made in his image) or that we are a 1/* fluke? It is a mathematical fact that more faith is required to believe there is no god than the other way around.

    We are the constant here. Remove religion and there is still evil. Remove us and there is none. You cannot be a true athiest without lacking basic levels of understanding. Unless of course you are a hypocrite. Atheism has become it’s own religion and is known for the same self-righteous behavior that atheists balk at christians for.

    There is no question that horrible atrocities have been carried out for the sake and name of religion but there has been more human death and destruction carried out by atheists in recorded history than anybody else. Where is the logic in atheism again?

    Pullman’s books are firmly rooted in a hatred for Christianity. Nothing short of his own words. His Dark Materials is a direct antithesis to the Narnia series (which are blatantly christian in tone and theme) by his own admission as he refers to the latter works as “poison.”

    My life has no meaning therefor all life has no meaning seems like a pretty destructive mantra if you ask me. Scientifically broken down the purpose of life is to eat and fuck. Propagation of the species. That is the alternative to religion. Maybe if he spent more time eating and fucking and less time preaching his beliefs he’d be a little less laughable and look a lot less like a dick. Once again, hypocrisy takes stupidity to a whole new level. None of that matters though because his prose is so handsomely elegant. Please…

    Hating Christians: It’s the new black!

  • amanohyo

    Wow, ummm… Mr.or Ms. C, you sure know how to open a constructive dialogue. You asked a lot of questions and maybe MA will address some of them later, but I just wanted to mention that I have never met an atheist who lived as if their life had no meaning. In fact, most of the atheists I know live very productive, meaningful lives. It kinda makes sense if you think about it, and as we all know, thinking is fantastic.

  • MBI

    “That is the alternative to religion.”

    Hardly.

    “There is no question that horrible atrocities have been carried out for the sake and name of religion but there has been more human death and destruction carried out by atheists in recorded history than anybody else.”

    Doubtful.

    I will agree that Pullman needs to shut up about my Narnia, though.

  • MaryAnn

    Scientifically broken down the purpose of life is to eat and fuck.

    What scares me is how awful it must be inside the heads of people like this. They cling to some nebulous idea of a deity and the rules he/she/it supposedly wants you to follow because they truly and honestly think this kind of desolation is what awaits them without religion.

  • Mark

    Scientifically broken down the purpose of life is to eat and fuck.

    What scares me is how awful it must be inside the heads of people like this.

    Ironically, it seems to me that they have so little thought and reflection going on that they’d lead happier lives if all they had was the eating and fucking.

  • Mark

    Hi, C.

    It is a mathematical fact that more faith is required to believe there is no god than the other way around.

    I think you’re misunderstanding something about mathematics here.

    Atheism has become it’s own religion

    I think you’re misunderstanding something about atheism here.

    there has been more human death and destruction carried out by atheists in recorded history than anybody else

    I think you’re misunderstanding something about history here.

    Where is the logic in atheism again?

    I think you’re misunderstanding something about logic here.

    Scientifically broken down the purpose of life is to eat and fuck.

    I think you’re misunderstanding something about science here.

  • C

    You’re right. There is a third alternative. Human beings capable of being accountable for themselves and taking care of each other. The very concept of free will negates it as a possibility. Unless of course your goal is to indoctrinate every single child on this planet and remove their capability for independent thought. Wait a minute…that sounds like a religion to me!

    Accountability for your actions is awful. That’s the whole damn point. It’s terrible fearing that every action and reaction you’re responsible for is wrong or unjust. Adversity causes growth. Even if you don’t “believe” the point is to grow as a person.

    “Hardly.”

    Pol Pot. Mao. Hitler. Stalin. Lenin. Napoleon. How many death are those six people responsible for? That’s just a handful for you and more than a couple were motivated by hatred combined with Darwinian theory.

    Conversely, the Catholic Church is responsible for millions of deaths. Once again, human beings are the problem. Not the organizations.

    Is it really that difficult to consider the idea of us being rats in a maze? If we are capable of running various creatures of “lesser intelligence” through different tests what is there to suggest that we aren’t being tested as well?

    I LOVE how the open-minded people of today refuse to accept “God” as a possiblity because religion is too closed-minded. It’s one of civilized society’s absolute dumbest arguments. It defies the very definition of open-minded.

  • C

    Mathematics and probability go hand in hand.

    Atheism HAS become it’s own religion. The only thing lacking is a deity. People like Pullman are motivated to indoctrinate others because they feel with absolute certainty that they are right.

    At it’s very base (according to science) the entire purpose of any life is self-propagation. What am I misunderstanding? Evolution is based purely on the concept of adusting in the interest of the survival of the species. Natural selection is the same at it’s core. Scientifically speaking, if the purpose of life is not to procreate, then what is?

  • bitchen frizzy

    C is right about one thing.

    The Cultural Revolution and the Khmer Rouge, to name two, didn’t need religion as a driving force behind the deaths of millions; indeed, these movements were characterized by anti-religious sentiment.

    The belief that genocide and hatred can be attributed directly or solely to religion is delusional.

  • Vergil

    Sorry I’m so far behind MaryAnn. Thinking for oneself is usually a good thing. I just don’t see where in the books this is espoused. I am not characterizing the books as “anti-religion”. Just the opposite. My criticism is not with the books, but with people who DO say they are anti-religion. As I said, they are a better than average fantasy story. But not the philosophical wonder that everyone gives them credit for. If there is any criticism at all, it is the type often used by Calvin in explaining the psychological and physiologicall shortcomings of his aquaintance Hobbes. Namely, sticking out his tongue, making an ugly face, and saying “This is YOU…nyah nyah!”

  • Mark

    Mathematics and probability go hand in hand.

    Indeed they do, but your assertion has little to do with either.

    Atheism HAS become it’s own religion. The only thing lacking is a deity.

    And an organizational structure. And social institution. And many other characteristics that separate religions from strongly-held beliefs about the world.

    People like Pullman are motivated to indoctrinate others because they feel with absolute certainty that they are right.

    How is Pullman indoctrinating anyone? Are authors not allowed to have their works convey an opinion?

    At it’s very base (according to science) the entire purpose of any life is self-propagation. What am I misunderstanding?

    You are mistaking causal factors for purposes; science can readily identify the former, as they are more or less observable. I’m fairly sure that the question of life’s “purpose” hasn’t been addressed by modern biology, and I’m not sure how it would be tested or even defined in a scientific context.

    Evolution is based purely on the concept of adusting in the interest of the survival of the species. Natural selection is the same at it’s core.

    That is not a correct statement about the phenomenon of evolution, or about the mechanism by which it occurs, natural selection.

    Scientifically speaking, if the purpose of life is not to procreate, then what is?

    Why does life have to have a purpose?

  • Mark

    Is it really that difficult to consider the idea of us being rats in a maze? If we are capable of running various creatures of “lesser intelligence” through different tests what is there to suggest that we aren’t being tested as well?

    What is there to suggest that we are?

    I LOVE how the open-minded people of today refuse to accept “God” as a possiblity because religion is too closed-minded.

    I’m betting I’ve met more atheists than you, and I’ve never met one who refused to accept “God” as a possiblity because religion is too closed-minded. Generally speaking, we don’t believe in gods because there’s no compelling reason to, and because we find that the idea makes very little sense.

    Atheists (in my observation) aren’t “open-minded” about God for the same reason they aren’t “open-minded” about jumping in front of onrushing traffic : it’s just obviously a bad idea.

  • C

    There is more in this universe pointing towards intelligent design than steering away from it. Everything is so meticulously calculated and finely tuned to suggest that it’s a fluke is irrational.

    -religion-

    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

    Your point is very knit-picky. Ok, so the PURPOSE of life is not deemed to be procreation but that has become the sole motivation for living things. But purpose is the end to motivation. A living being is motivated to eat and procreate for the purpose of survival of itself and turn, the species as a whole. A dog does not think, “If I don’t eat I will die.” He eats because he feels hunger. He’ll hump a female dog because his body is telling him that’s what is supposed to happen. To suggest that he is not motivated in those ways in an effort to survive and create more life is asinine.

    Does nihilist kool-aid taste like anything? Life doesn’t HAVE to have a purpose. It simply does.

    Also, last time I checked evolution was a theory, not a phenomenon. If science can’t adhere to it’s own rules of logic and principles then what is it good for?

  • C

    What is there to suggest we are? Morality. Self-awareness. The impossible odds of us even existing.

    Again…the universe as we know it is a complete fluke? In what way does that make sense.

    Let me try it this way…

    What motivates you to wake up every morning and continue living?

  • Mark

    Your point is very knit-picky. Ok, so the PURPOSE of life is not deemed to be procreation but that has become the sole motivation for living things.

    I’m a living thing, and it’s not my sole motivation.

    Also, last time I checked evolution was a theory, not a phenomenon.

    Evolution is an observed fact. There is also a widely-accepted, testable model with predicative accuracy that explains how these observed facts occur; this is what’s called a “theory” in a specific technical sense that doesn’t have the pie-in-the-sky connotations of the regular English use of the word “theory”. The so-called “theory of evolution” — that is, the predicative model that explains how gene distributions change in populations over time — is a theory in the same way that gravity (a predicative model that explains the observed motions of physical objects) is a theory.

  • Mark

    There is more in this universe pointing towards intelligent design than steering away from it. Everything is so meticulously calculated and finely tuned to suggest that it’s a fluke is irrational.

    I don’t know anyone who is suggesting it’s a fluke; that’s simply a strawman.

    Here’s what I think: the nature of the universe set some initial conditions, defining basic physical laws and an initial distribution of matter and energy. From there, forces and materials interact according to these laws. Over time, things get very big and complicated, and some arrangements of matter get quite intricate. We — living things that can make mental models of the world around is — are one such type of intricate arrangement. It is of course possible that a different initial set of laws would yield a universe in which no such complex interactions and arrangements were possible. But if it did, we wouldn’t be around to see it. To look for agency behind the fact that we live in a universe that suits us is the anthropic fallacy; we live in a universe that suits us because that’s the only place we can live.

    Intelligent design requires a designer, which (among many other things) begs the question of where the designer came from. It’s a cop-out, not an actual attempt to understand anything. Saying that there must be a designer, because you can’t see how things could be they are without one isn’t rationality at all; it’s just a anthropomorphism of ignorance.

  • C

    Your body is specifically engineered to survive and create more of you. You could have a death wish and live your entire life not having sex and it wouldn’t change the fact that you eat every day and do what you can to survive because your body is telling you “SURVIVE AND MAKE OFFSPRING!” You are free to ignore these compulsions or urges. But why, in an unlikely universe in an unlikely galaxy on an unlikely planet are you the only living creature known to exist that has the ability to decide to ignore natural instinct? Ahh yes, because of some initial conditions of the nature of the universe.

    What was the nature of the universe and how did it set it’s own laws? Has it existed forever? Has it existed forever in a simliar state as this one? Where did the designer come from, you question. Where did the universe “come from,” and why are it’s laws so specific to create out of nothing everything we know to exist?

    What was the foundation of the energy and matter? Let’s say you buy into the big bag theory. Is it not strange to you that all the appropriate ingredients for this to happen just casually drifted together in space?

    Intelligent design requires a designer. This is very true. Stick a monkey in front of a building and his brain couldn’t begin to tell you how it got there. All he knows is that it exists. Now, you could show that monkey how it got there by laying brick upon brick right along side the first building and he’ll begin to comprehend what’s going on but that doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t know WHY it’s happening. Who’s to say it’s not the same with us? “Who’s to say it is,” you ask. But again, who’s to say it isn’t…you and your infinite knowledge of the universe and all it’s parts? Try again.

  • MBI

    For what it’s worth, both Napoleon and Hitler considered themselves Christian.

    “You’re right. There is a third alternative. Human beings capable of being accountable for themselves and taking care of each other. The very concept of free will negates it as a possibility. Unless of course your goal is to indoctrinate every single child on this planet and remove their capability for independent thought. Wait a minute…that sounds like a religion to me!

    Accountability for your actions is awful. That’s the whole damn point. It’s terrible fearing that every action and reaction you’re responsible for is wrong or unjust. Adversity causes growth. Even if you don’t “believe” the point is to grow as a person.”

    This doesn’t make ANY sense.

    And you know what else didn’t make any sense? Chris Weitz’s screenplay for The Golden Compass. Seriously, can someone tell me what the hell was going on in that movie? Did anyone follow it that didn’t also read the books? Seriously, what the fucking hell, right? Let’s all discuss “The Golden Compass” for a little while, and how it worked or didn’t work as a movie.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Hitler publically characterized himself as Christian because it would have been politically infeasible for him to do otherwise, but privately he had no religion and religion was on his list of things that had to go – starting with Judaism, of course.

    But the specifics and the exact body counts don’t matter. Point is, genocide and hatred don’t go away or even diminish much if religion goes away. Any difference in ideology or skin color will do just as well as an excuse. Pretending that it’s all religion’s fault just makes things worse.

  • “And you know what else didn’t make any sense? Chris Weitz’s screenplay for The Golden Compass. Seriously, can someone tell me what the hell was going on in that movie? Did anyone follow it that didn’t also read the books?”

    i agree… it was wildly all over the place. the look of it was lush and beautiful (i once spent a summer in oxford and i loved how they used the buildings and architecture) and the rendition of the bears was fabulous but honestly — it was like the screenwriter(s) went through the book and said, “Oh, this would look cool…” and “The fight between the bears will be awesome…” and totally forgot the characters. i think the actors did the best they could with their sketchy and barely outlined characters but i was very disappointed. i could fill in all of Lyra’s rebellion and character because i’d read the books but you’d never get it from the movie.

  • MaryAnn

    Thanks, everyone, for having the patience to debate people who can’t be bothered to understand what the hell they’re talking about. You saved me a lot of banging my head against the table.

    Point is, genocide and hatred don’t go away or even diminish much if religion goes away.

    No one has ever said this was the case. But I think any freethinker, any humanist would argue that dogma — such as those exhibited by the likes of Pol Pot and Hitler and the Catholic Church — all equally dangerous. And of course the difference between Pol Pot and Hitler, and the Catholic Church, is that the first two burned themselves out pretty quickly: they did not espouse self-sustaining dogmas. The Church has been at it for 2000 years, though.

  • Vergil

    The other difference is that Hitler and Pol Pot were individuals. The church has taken the blame (and gotten the credit) for the actions of individuals for 2000 years. If you REALLY look through history, the ultimate cause of wars and oppression has been the whim and pride of individuals in positions of power be they clergy, monarchy, military genius, or simply charismatic personalities.

  • Mark

    Your body is specifically engineered to survive and create more of you.

    Loaded words like ‘engineered’ only confuse the matter. Your (and my) body was formed as part of an ongoing, multi-billion year process that winnows out structures that don’t survive well. One of the ways we survive well is by eating and fucking, just like many other animals. Another is by working together and communicating; some, but by no means all, other animals do that.

    But why, in an unlikely universe in an unlikely galaxy on an unlikely planet

    You don’t have enough information to assess the likeliness of these things.

    are you the only living creature known to exist that has the ability to decide to ignore natural instinct?

    There are, as I’m sure you are aware, numerous examples of altruistic behavior in nonhuman species, both inter- and intra-species; for example, loyal dogs that sacrifice themselves to protect their owners.

    But — if you’re asking why humans can reason, can reflect on their actions, and make complex plans and long-term decisions that are at odds with short-term goals of procreation and feeding, then it’s pretty simple. Humans can think because thinking has enabled us to survive better, and we do this better than any other animal we’ve seen yet.

    Ahh yes, because of some initial conditions of the nature of the universe.

    Yup.

    What was the nature of the universe and how did it set it’s own laws? Has it existed forever? Has it existed forever in a simliar state as this one?

    All good questions. I don’t know enough about the state of contemporary cosmological research to know what the current best answers are; as always, science allows us to say “we don’t have enough information”. The problem, of course, is that it’s very hard to get meaningful information that would help answer these questions.

    Where did the designer come from, you question. Where did the universe “come from,” and why are it’s laws so specific to create out of nothing everything we know to exist?

    I don’t know. But I can observe the universe; I don’t need to postulate anything extra to explain it. Not so with a designer, whose very existence begs man, many questions.

    What was the foundation of the energy and matter? Let’s say you buy into the big bag theory. Is it not strange to you that all the appropriate ingredients for this to happen just casually drifted together in space?

    Again, nobody is saying anything about “ingredients” “casually drifting together”. And “strange” relative to what? I can only call things “strange” or “unlikely” in comparison to a meaningfully large population of other similar things. I’ve only seen one universe, so it’s pretty meaningless to describe any of it’s attributes as “strange” or “unlikely” in this sense.

    “Who’s to say it is,” you ask. But again, who’s to say it isn’t…you and your infinite knowledge of the universe and all it’s parts? Try again.

    I never claimed to have infinite knowledge, just that I can, with a suitable degree of parsimony, explain in general how the universe and all of its diverse contents came about without the assistance of an unseen designer.

  • bitchen frizzy

    “But I think any freethinker, any humanist would argue that dogma — such as those exhibited by the likes of Pol Pot and Hitler and the Catholic Church — all equally dangerous.”

    Hmmm. I understand what you’re saying, but a phrase like “all dogma is equally dangerous” isn’t exactly reflective of freethinking – or of much thinking at all, for that matter. It’s a blanket statement, and a blanket condemnation.

    (It’s like a dogmatic statement against dogma ;> )

  • amanohyo

    Lately, when I feel the temptation to participate in these kinds of inevitably circular religious discussions I get on the elliptical and watch this guy:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=I5cXWElb-GE

    He’s blunt (some would say nasty and intolerant) and always seems to be suppressing a lot of rage, but sometimes he has a point and he’s pretty articulate for a random guy on youtube.

    But, back to the movie, the two biggest complaints I hear are about jarring transitions and a screenpay that feels rushed. Without giving away any major spoilers, could someone give me examples of these two flaws? Atheist brouhaha aside, is it simply an issue of cramming a lot of story into a short movie as MA says, or is it a badly made movie even taking the limitations of the license into account? This was going to be part three of a Sweeny Todd, Dewey Cox, triple feature, but I’m confused by all the mixed reviews.

  • MaryAnn

    “all dogma is equally dangerous”

    I didn’t *quite* say that. But honestly, is there any argument to be made that, in the long run, letting oneself be completely ruled by the thinking of one single outside source is a good thing?

  • “But, back to the movie, the two biggest complaints I hear are about jarring transitions and a screenpay that feels rushed. Without giving away any major spoilers, could someone give me examples of these two flaws? Atheist brouhaha aside, is it simply an issue of cramming a lot of story into a short movie as MA says, or is it a badly made movie even taking the limitations of the license into account?”

    i wouldn’t say it’s badly made –as i said, it’s lush and elegant — but it is very rushed… we jump from Lyra playing with the Romany children to being dragged into dinner with the headmaster — without any indication of why she has to be dragged, why she’s living in oxford in the first place or what her position is. later on, the part with her meeting Scorsby, the Bear and the Witches (especially) feels like “Ooops! Better get to those other characters…” it’s like there’s no “organic” reason for those characters to appear in the story…

  • bitchen frizzy

    Seems to be the latest screen adaptation of a fantasy novel that’s (excessively?) influenced by the perceived need to be as faithful to the source material as possible, so as not to alienate the “core audience” of fans of the novel. The latest emergence of this trend dates to LOTR, which drew howls of protest from the Tolkien fanatics for its deviations from the novel.

    The logic of this escapes me. LOTR was a huge financial success and crowd, and the producers of Compass aimed for a much larger draw than the relatively small reader fanbase. But there you have it.

    (“But honestly, is there any argument to be made that, in the long run, letting oneself be completely ruled by the thinking of one single outside source is a good thing?”

    Of course not, and I’m not making that argument. It’s a human tendency – a survival trait – to yield to groupthink and tribal mentality. It’s the enemy within that’s the problem. Making religion the bogeyman (as Pullman, e.g., does literally) is a form of denial, or at best intellectual laziness.)

  • MaryAnn

    Religion is the most powerful and insidious groupthink at work. I don’t think there’s anything lazy or off the mark about criticizing it.

    I don’t think Weitz was worried about the fanbase — which is, as you say, not huge. I think he was concerned about being fair to the book. Which he is, at the expense of the movie’s cinematic qualities.

  • It would have been wonderful if GOLDEN COMPASS had been filmed in the style of LOTR; but, despite some of the allusions to LOTR in the promo materials, this was not the case. I understand why this is the so, but it can still lead to some disappointment for the viewer who is a fan of the books. I think I can enjoy a second viewing better than my first of this movie. I will have gotten through all of my reactions to the variances between page and screen.

    I look forward to the rest of HDM’s saga being played out on screen. It will be sad if the box office doesn’t support it. More than the books themselves, I think Mr. Pullman’s past statements have been used as fodder by those who are inclined to bring down anything associated with this outspoken author.

    All this fearful banding together and boycotting is yet another sad reminder of the smallness of the minds of most power players, religious and secular, and the sheeple that still flock to them.

  • bitchen frizzy

    “All this fearful banding together and boycotting…”

    Are boycotts actually having any perceptible effect on the box office? I’m asking, seriously, because I didn’t gather that from any news I’ve read.

    Also, opening weekend really wasn’t that bad, except by comparison to LOTR. The studio was anticipating LOTR-like numbers. That’s expecting a lot.

  • MaryAnn

    Are boycotts actually having any perceptible effect on the box office? I’m asking, seriously, because I didn’t gather that from any news I’ve read.

    Well, the Catholic League is claiming a victory, but it’s almost impossible to tell whether its call for a boycott has had any effect. I think it’s more likely down to everything that is plaguing the box office this autumn: poor marketing, too many movies, and fewer people with disposable income.

    Also, opening weekend really wasn’t that bad, except by comparison to LOTR. The studio was anticipating LOTR-like numbers. That’s expecting a lot.

    Yeah, but they spent an absolute fortune on this film — it’s one of the most expensive movies ever made. It’s doing better overseas, though, which may end up saving it in the end.

  • Ryan

    I skipped through a lot of this, because trying to argue with religious fanatics (as opposed to religious moderates, who I often have interesting debates with) is a gigantic waste of time.

    However, citing people like Hitler, Pol-pot, and Stalin as having committed mass-murders and somehow laying that at the feet of atheism is absurd. Just because those people had no religious agenda, their motivations for killing were entirely political and racial in nature. If they had been Catholics or Protestants or w/e it wouldn’t have changed a damn thing, except, perhaps which groups they chose to persecute.

  • Vergil

    Then again, the most likely cause of the mediocre box office is simply that it is fantasy. It is probably the most difficult genre to do well. Since the advent of sound we have had a small handful of decent fantasy movies. And I stress decent. Maybe Jason and the Argonaughts. Perhaps Clash of the Titans. But we have been spoiled of late. People tend to forget that other than Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, the ONLY good fantasy movie ever made that didn’t involve bouncing tigers or singing animitronic birds is Star Wars.

  • Vergil

    Sorry for not closing the tags : (

  • amanohyo

    Vergil, have you seen The City of Lost Children, The Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and/or most of Miyazaki’s stuff? (everything except Howl’s Moving Castle *shudder*) I’d like to think that most of these can reach the fairly low bar set by the average Harry Potter movie.

    I also have a soft spot for The Neverending Story, Monsters Inc., Edward Scissorhands, Beetle Juice, Brazil, The Plague Dogs, Wings of Honneamise, Dark City, The Last Unicorn, and The Dark Crystal, but my opinions of these are distorted by happy memories; I doubt they hold up well (I rarely rewatch movies). Honestly, except for special effects, I don’t see how the average HP movie is noticeably better than even silly fantasy stuff like Willow, Ghostbusters, or Army of Darkness. (I guess HP movies tend to take their ridiculousness a tad more seriously)

    But I’m rambling. My point is that there have been plenty of decent fantasy movies that have done well, they just weren’t as expensive and high profile as this one. There are also some “good” fantasy movies whose poor box office performances were later redeemed by critical acclaim. Although, I guess fantasy movies are generally more expensive to make and difficult to write… hmmm, wait, wait I take it back. I guess I do agree with your main point. Comparatively, it’s a tough genre to pull off. I must have subconsciously wanted an excuse to list some fantasy movies that I liked. Hopefully, I can add this movie to the list after next weekend.

  • Chris

    Excellently argued, Mark.

    I agree that the film was a bit rushed, but it was beautifully rendered. I will be reading the books now, for sure.

  • Vergil

    amanohyo,
    I’d classify Wizard of Oz with the Disney musicals to which I was refering, though it is indeed great fantasy. Willy Wonka is actually closer to science fiction if you look carefully. In any case by Fantasy I did not mean to include the fairytale/musicals like Shrek or Nightmare Before Christmas. These can and often do make out well at the box office. And I don’t mean the quirky stories that are great for a some, but hated by those who “just don’t get it” (a la Tim Burton). And I don’t mean those with which you must pull a muscle to suspend disbelief (Gilliam anyone?). There are those who will disagree, but for the most part the best stories are those with which we can personally identify. This is why Lord of the Rings starts in the country town of Hobbiton, and why Star Wars starts on a quiet farm. I can see myself as Luke or Harry, or even Dorothy for that matter. But the worlds of Atreyu or the Dark Crystal don’t really draw me in, as much as I may love them. Unfortunately for fantasy movies this “realism” requires not only great storytelling, but also great (expensive) production values. I suppose I am being a bit critical by calling great movies good, and good movies decent. But we really do tend to give fantasy a pass because those of us who like it REALLY want to see it on the screen. That is why we say we have a “soft spot” for certain movies. People don’t usually say they have a “soft spot” for The Godfather, or Citizen Kane. They don’t call Lawrence of Arabia or Casablanca a “guilty pleasure”.

    By the by, I finally saw “The Golden Compass” last night. I was actually suprised how good it was, but that was given very low expectations. It could have used an hour more though. Even then I don’t suppose I’d call it very good, as everyone pretty much agrees it is not a book easily transferred to the screen. Not to mention (as I have mentioned) it was only a better than average book to begin with.

  • Miguel

    The problem with this movie is the same that plagued the horrible adaption of Eragon. You can’t take a story as long as this, pack it into a few hours, and expect it to be the same story. Unless you want a 4 hour movie, it’s just not going to happen. With that aside, I thought it was an okay movie. The special effects were certainly impressive enough.

    On a side note, I’d like to add that the kid who played Roger looked like the bastard son of Frankenstein after a lengthy encounter with the Ugly Truck.

  • MaryAnn

    Is it really necessary to disparage the physical appearance of a child? I mean, come on: that’s just cruel.

  • Uh-merica

    Yeah, c’mon! Don’t speak so harshly about the looks of an insignificant child in a word full of millions of ’em. Get back on topic and and talk shit about the billions of evil people (white AND brown) on this planet that believe in a god. Those fucking morons!

    MaryAnn, stop pretending to care about children. We all know if your barren womb could produce them you’d be on a regular diet of baby meat and blood to keep your tiring skin toit loik a toiger.

  • MaryAnn

    Get back on topic and and talk shit about the billions of evil people (white AND brown) on this planet that believe in a god.

    I have never said that people who are superstitious are “evil.” But if you need to put words into my mouth in order to “defend” your own beliefs, feel free. It doesn’t impact me one bit.

    MaryAnn, stop pretending to care about children. We all know if your barren womb could produce them you’d be on a regular diet of baby meat and blood to keep your tiring skin toit loik a toiger.

    Wow. Where is all this vileness coming from?

  • Uh-merica

    “I have never said that people who are superstitious are “evil.” But if you need to put words into my mouth in order to “defend” your own beliefs, feel free. It doesn’t impact me one bit.”

    Boring rhetoric. Thread after thread you belittle and decry religious people (particularly Christians.) So I made a TINY exaggeration. Get over it.

    Even referring to religious people as superstitious is a slight and if you’re not aware of that you’re half as smart as you think you are. I highly doubt you didn’t realize what you were saying. Ten bucks says you’re somebody who says, “I’m sorry you were offended by what I said,” as opposed to, “I’m sorry I offended you with what I said.” It’s ok to be an anti-religious bigot. That’s your choice. Just don’t be so much of a wimp you can’t admit it. And please don’t come back and say, “No, I’m not.” It’s so blatantly obvious and you’ll only end up looking foolish (I hear the pitter-patter of MA lapdogs.)

    “Wow. Where is all this vileness coming from?”

    You say some absolutely terrible shit about all kinds of people. Once again, particularly white, American Christians. You can be quite mean, bitchy, sarcastic, self-righteous, hypocritical but you do it with a smirk so that makes it okay? Again, disparaging billions of people with your “vile” attacks is ok because you do it with a smirk but I can’t even make completely off-color remarks with virtually NO basis in reality from my end without being referred to as “vile.” The only thing that makes my comments vile is if I was pushing that paragraph as some kind of truth. Can you have kids? I have no idea. Do you eat babies? Likely not. Is your skin tiring? Mmmmmmaybe.

    “Religion is the most powerful and insidious groupthink at work.”

    Let me do you one better. Corporations around the world. Let me get even more specific. Human beings are the most powerful and insidious groupthink at work. Your disdain/hatred or whatever for religion just happens to shift your focus in that direction.

    PS: You’re like the Bill Lambeer of obscure movie critics. I haven’t had this much fun disliking somebody since I was a little kid watching the Pistons dominate the NBA. I feel like I’m you watching Bill O’Reily but with the penis you always wanted.

  • Vergil

    Congratulations Uh-merica. You managed to combine an ad hominim / strawman attack in one convenient, ineffectual statement. If you knew a hundreth of what your superiority complex suffering tone suggests, you would know that the term “superstitious” was created by religious people to describe religious people. The term in usage is very subjective. Whether or not is it a slight depends both on the intent and the way in which it is received. I’d say only MaryAnn knows the intent in certainty, though a small bit may be gleaned from context. But as for how it is received, I can only offer the following: Imagine the Big Bad Wolf saying to the little pigs “your houses are so poorly constructed, no way you can keep me out”! I submit that the people offended by the term “superstition” are the little pigs building houses of sticks and straw. For, in my opinion, the pigs living in houses of brick are more likely to laugh and invite the wolf to keep huffing and puffing until he collapses in frustration, and then ask him if he might possibly care to reconsider his view.

  • MaryAnn

    You say some absolutely terrible shit about all kinds of people. Once again, particularly white, American Christians. You can be quite mean, bitchy, sarcastic, self-righteous, hypocritical but you do it with a smirk so that makes it okay?

    No, I just don’t understand how any of what I’ve said translates into a “barren womb” or penis envy. Actually, I don’t even understand how your attempts at insult are meant to be cohesive. I can’t possibly be traumatized by a “barren womb” and wish I were a man at the same time, can I?

  • Uh-merica

    “If you knew a hundreth of what your superiority complex suffering tone suggests, you would know that the term “superstitious” was created by religious people to describe religious people. The term in usage is very subjective. Whether or not is it a slight depends both on the intent and the way in which it is received.”

    She knew exactly what she was saying and I took it how she intended it to be taken: as an insult. Which means both of us played our part effectively and your assessment is left without merit (in this particular instance.)

    “No, I just don’t understand how any of what I’ve said translates into a “barren womb” or penis envy. Actually, I don’t even understand how your attempts at insult are meant to be cohesive. I can’t possibly be traumatized by a “barren womb” and wish I were a man at the same time, can I?”

    I know you’re smarter than that. There’s a dozen ways you could justify steps to arrive at those jokes assuming I’ve read a couple of the threads following your movie reviews. You’re a progressive. You’re a feminist (humanist, or whatever.) Feminism covers the penis envy joke but why the barren womb? It could have just been absurdism. I’m not sure exactly why it came up, but it was the first thing that sprung to mind. In retrospect, it seems a likely possibility. My subconscious could have been being a total prick which is very possible. A bitter, middle-aged woman with an intense dislike of God and religion who never mentions a spouse/significant other of any kind (that I’ve noticed.) There are millions of ways you could have become the person that you are but for whatever reason my mind plucked out this one. You didn’t decide one day, “Hey, I’m going to be embittered, snobby, sarcastic, bitchy and hate religion/God when I grow up.” It happened for a reason. Or…as a result of millions of variables, if that makes you feel better.

    And to suggest that a person couldn’t be angry because of a barren womb AND have penis envy is silly. I believe in God and belive in global climate change. I believe that the immigration problem should and can be solved with something other than “ship them home.” I think Ron Paul is a genius…and possibly one of the the dumbest people in politics. People are rarely ALL of anything. Even you. I didn’t notice it until your “Chipmunks” review. You have a soft-spot for children and adorable CGI chipmunks. The more I think about it, the more the barren womb comment really could have just been my subconscious being a total bastard. Whatever the reality of your situation I would not maliciously or knowingly make fun of somebody with a barren womb. Not for having a barren womb anyway.

  • MaryAnn

    I… just… what…? wow.

    The mind, it boggles.

    I fear we have far further to go as an enlightened civilization than any of us realize.

    There’s a dozen ways you could justify steps to arrive at those jokes assuming I’ve read a couple of the threads following your movie reviews. You’re a progressive. You’re a feminist (humanist, or whatever.) Feminism covers the penis envy joke but why the barren womb?

    If you think you can let certain cultural assumptions about women and feminism do your work for you, you are sadly mistaken. You’re going to have to justify your misogyny. If you think feminism is about penis envy, you’re going to have to explain why.

  • MaryAnn

    Whatever the reality of your situation I would not maliciously or knowingly make fun of somebody with a barren womb.

    The only conclusion to be drawn from such a statement is that you’re admitting to spouting bizarre insults (why assume, even if my womb were barren, that I’m not totally okay with that?) without thinking about what you’re saying, until you’re called on it.

  • Lubby007

    “I don’t think there’s anything lazy or off the mark about criticizing it.”

    MaryAnn, you don’t have a leg to stand on. Pick up a Bible; you might straighten out your viewpoints with God’s help. Oh, wait. You don’t believe there is a god. Well, newsflash. There is. And he cares about you very much. Please do us all a favor and stop trashing Christianity as a whole, ’cause the people who are fighting for the basis that are country started on have the benefit of the doubt.

  • Uh-merica

    “If you think you can let certain cultural assumptions about women and feminism do your work for you, you are sadly mistaken. You’re going to have to justify your misogyny. If you think feminism is about penis envy, you’re going to have to explain why.”

    I understand why you use the word “misogyny” but it’s invalid here. I type what I type to you because it entertains me on some level, not because I dislike women or feel they are inferior. You type what you type about religious people because you dislike religion and feel it’s stupid and insidious. My use of misconceptions is intentional. I know feminism =/= penis envy. Not to everybody at least.

    And not everything I say is calculated. Have you ever been a bitch because you just felt that way for no obvious reason? Like for whatever reason, it just suited you in that moment. I felt like making an off-color comment and I did. It happens. So yes, you’re right, I gave no thought to that insult as it was intended to sound completely absurd. Blame too many episodes of Ren & Stimpy as a child if you like.

    “(why assume, even if my womb were barren, that I’m not totally okay with that?)”

    I’ve tried to mostly go back and forth without saything this outright but that comment is absolutely Stupid. You like to nitpic so let’s try that a little here. I assume you know the definition of the word “totally.” With that in mind, how many women do you know that cannot carry a child to term? Are any of them “totally” ok with it? As in, in all parts of their mind and body are they perfectly accepting of the fact that their body is not functioning properly in what is generally looked upon as an important fashion? I know many women personally that cannot carry children and are in no way totally ok with it. I’m going to wildly throw out an estimated statistic that more than 90% of women who cannot have children are not totally ok with it. That’s pretty generous odds I think. You get my point.

    Now, assuming my subconscious is firing on all cylinders, you might see why I said what I said. Let me summarize real quick: If I told you to go fuck yourself, I wouldn’t literally mean, go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself is just a more accepted way to snap at somebody.

    What you’re not noting is that I did make a bizarre insult and when I was asked about it I was more than willing to delve into exactly why and where it came from.

    What I cannot figure out is why it got to you (No, don’t admit it got to you in some way, that’s a sign of weakness!) You seemed very fixated on the origin of my insult which could mean any number of things. Did I strike a cord? If I was accurate in some way could it be because I know you personally? Or maybe you were just generally curious as to why I said exactly what I said. In the latter case I was more than willing to oblige.

  • JT

    Jesus, MaryAnn. Your reviews really bring the nutjobs out of the woodwork.

    You don’t believe there is a god. Well, newsflash. There is.

    Great argument there.

  • Lubby007

    I’m sorry, I’m just not used to throwing my pearls before swine like you.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    So let me see if I’ve grasped the core of un-merica’s argument; he came onto someone’s website and threw a load of personal insults in their face, and now he can’t understand why they’re taking it personally? Is that it? OK, now it’s my go; is un-merica genuinely retarded?

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    That’s uh-merica, not un-merica. Hangover.

  • MaryAnn

    Have you ever been a bitch because you just felt that way for no obvious reason?

    No. And that’s not acceptable behavior here, either.

    If you can’t behave yourself, Lubby, and engage in constructive conversation at least marginally related to the movies under discussion, your comments will be deleted.

    This is your only warning.

  • Uh-merica

    “No.”

    I’ll call b.s. there and leave it at that.

  • MaryAnn

    You have absolutely no basis to make such a statement, Uh-merica. Quit it with the personal attacks.

  • Shreck

    Uh-merica, please shut up.

    I mean, really. Please. I’m begging you.

    Please notice where it is that you are posting. Please step back and realize what it is you are doing. Please think about what you are trying to defend, and how it looks when you speak.

    You see, this is a public forum. People from around the world with many different persuasions, beliefs, perspectives and knowledge bases come here to relax and read about movies from someone they who’s opinion they either trust implicitly or someone who’s opinion at least amuses them enough to read again. They do not come here expecting a religious debate. And yet you have a unique opportunity here to show how enlightened you are by rising above the controversy and speaking truth to the situation, perhaps revealing something special.

    I’m going to make an assumption here: that you are Christian. Based on that assumption I am proposing that you are here for one of two reasons: Either you are here to defend Christianity as a religion or you are here to convert MaryAnn from her heathen ways. If you are trying to defend Christianity, then perhaps you might like to know that by your wanton, bile-filled attacks on not just MaryAnn but many of her readers you’ve made Christians appear to be judgmental, illogical, ignorant and violent. Perhaps you could follow Christ’s example: Christ was always welcoming and gentle with the heathen, and held his strongest criticisms and anger for The Church, whom he held responsible for many of society’s problems.

    Next, if you are trying to convert MaryAnn I would say, similarly, that a change in technique would be in order. As the saying goes, “You’ll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.” (Not to imply that you’re a fly MaryAnn…)

    You see, Uh-merica, I’ve spent my entire life trying to be a good Christian, living my life as a decent human being while trying to set a good example for fellow Christians and non-Christians alike. By thinking before I speak, by caring for those in need, by giving criticism only when it is asked for, and trying not to hate for any reason, no matter how righteous it may seem. I hope that by doing these things others may see Christianity as a blessing, a great gift and something to be desired, not a weight that holds you down to a dogma. When you spout off and spew your twisted views of Christianity it undoes much of the work I’ve done. To this day many of the people I care about still site the many religious sheep/fanatics that keep them from being willing to take a closer look at what I believe, for fear that they too will become brainwashed.

    So please, for God’s sake, not mine, shut up.

    And Lubby007, all I can say is perhaps it is you who should pick up a Bible and read. Maybe a small section like John 9:35-41.

    MaryAnn, thank you for your review. Not having read any of the books this movie was based on I was concerned that The Golden Compass might be a bit of anti-religious tripe based on the hubbub that was surrounding it. I can see now that the hubbub is likely just over-reaction from the Christian community as usual and that this movie, at worst, is just a pretty-yet-off-the-mark tale. I look forward to seeing it now and judging for myself.

    Keep up the good work.

  • MaryAnn

    You’re welcome, Shreck. You are exactly the opposite of why many atheists have a particular problem with the very vocal Christians in this country: very few of them actually act like they really believe what they profess to believe.

  • Lubby007

    Ah, Shreck, you’re saying that I am a Pharisee then? I have met Christians like you (if you are one, maybe, maybe not). Judge not less you be judged. I advise you to read 2 Corinthians 4:2; I am admonishing you now, when I say NOT to tamper with God’s word. That means you don’t juggle with the idea of sin. Jesus said that if we looked upon a man or women with lustful eyes, we were already committing adultery in our hearts. In the same way, if we open our minds up to the things of this world, we are pleasing the god of this world. By watching the Golden Compass, which has many twisted messages to send out to viewers, we are sinning in our hearts. We are basically saying that satan’s ways are worth our time, and we are allowing undesired waste into our minds and hearts. I heard that the writer of the “Golden Compass” book made it seem like a victory that they killed God; he is just like a pharisee. Bloodthirsty for crucifixion. It’s gut-wrenching. That the world has become this blind…look in Revelation, Shreck; we are surely the church in La-odice’a, if you have any spiritual insight. The end is near. And someday, every knee will bow and every tongue confess…that Jesus Christ is Lord: even you, MaryAnn. Anyone that has ears let him hear. Well, I really did try to keep that on topic, MaryAnn, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. Most of it must seem like mumbo-jumbo to you; accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you’ll understand every single word of it. That’s my offer to you. Shreck (if you haven’t already). And MaryAnn.

  • MBI

    “By watching the Golden Compass, which has many twisted messages to send out to viewers, we are sinning in our hearts.”

    So, by just attempting to understand and listen to the messages of this movie, which may or may not have “sinful” messages (how would you know, not having seen it), we have sinned. Not by sinning, mind you, but just by hearing sinful messages.

    Apparently the only way to have a clean mind is by having an empty mind. You’re a fucking idiot.

  • bitchen frizzy

    I pulled my dogs out of this hunt several posts ago, but I will drop back in to say, Lubby007, you’re a mess. If you have valid points to make, they’re lost in the general confusion.

    It’s a sin to watch Golden Compass because of its dangerous ideas, you say, but you’re on other threads defending a movie about an immortal demigod called Santa Claus, and a movie that’s part of a franchise that glorifies Freemasonry. Huh? Where’s the logic?

  • Rosalind

    I was wondering if anyone has seen an interview with those involved in editing and producing the film?
    The ending was quite abrupt and occurs earlier than the ending of the novel. But there are photo books of the film which show Lyra and her father reunited at the end (also shown in previews of the film). Does anyone know the back story to this production? What does the director think of the ending?

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