As the movie studios gear up for a big Christmas movie season, one trailer that looks like a blockbuster is The Golden Compass, which must be trying to cash in on the Narnia movies. It has flashy special-effect polar bears in armor and a young heroic damsel in distress facing off against evil forces. The casting is top-notch, led by Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the current star spy in the James Bond movies.
But buyer beware: Narnia it's not. It's the anti-Narnia. Instead of a Christian allegory, it's an anti-Christian allegory. The author of The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman, is an atheist who despises C. S. Lewis and his much-beloved Narnia series. “I thought they were loathsome,” he said of those books, “full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself.”
This book and movie is only the first in his trilogy, titled His Dark Materials, that gets more and more anti-religious in each book.
If you hear the ring of anti-Catholicism, you're right. The evil empire in this movie for children is called the “Magisterium,” which is exactly the word Catholics use to describe the teaching authority of the Pope and his bishops. The books are more explicit, in which the evil institution is also called “The Church” and the higher-ups are the “Vatican Council.”
British columnist Peter Hitchens has explained how our secular thought-shapers would love for
Isn't it a bit perverse to head into the Christmas holiday season hyping an atheist fantasy movie for kids? No doubt sensing this,
The movie's director, Chris Weitz, spins it this way: “In the books, the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic church gone wildly astray from its roots. If that's what you want in the film, you'll be disappointed.” Weitz says they merely “expanded the range of meanings” for the Magisterium, that it's merely a metaphor for tyranny of any stripe: “Philip Pullman is against any kind of organized dogma whether it is church hierarchy or, say, a Soviet hierarchy.” That would be more believable if
Nicole Kidman spins it her way: “I was raised Catholic, the Catholic Church is part of my essence. I wouldn't be able to do this film if I thought it were at all anti-Catholic."
The media have played happily along in disguising
The atheists may be angry that the movie waters down
For those anticipating the wonder of Narnia, you'll have to wait until next May, when Prince Caspian, the second installment, returns magic to the screen.
L. Brent Bozell III is President of the Media Research Center