Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This is where the Religious Right looses me

Christian groups slam new Kidman children's movie

Christian groups are up in arms here over a new children's film starring Nicole Kidman and based on an award-winning novel by British author Philip Pullman, accusing it of being anti-religious.

"The Golden Compass" which opens here Friday is the film version of "The Northern Lights," the first book in Pullman's "Dark Materials" fantasy trilogy aimed at teenage readers.

The books by confirmed agnostic Pullman trace the fate of a young girl, Lyra, as she becomes drawn into an apocalyptic battle of good against evil, meeting a host of strange characters along the way including a polar bear, voiced in the film by Ian McKellan.

Evil in Pullman's books is represented by the church, called the Magisterium, whose acolytes kidnap orphans across England to subject them to horrible experiments in the frozen northern wastelands.

"The Northern Lights" won Pullman the 1995 Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in Britain, and the final volume in his trilogy, "The Amber Spyglass" was the first ever children's novel to be awarded the prestigious British Whitbread Book of the Year award in 2002.

With its 180-million-dollar big budget movie, New Line studios is hoping to repeat the box-office success of its "Lord of the Rings" series.

And it aims to tap into the young audiences of cinema-goers who flocked to the five "Harry Potter" films making them big earners for Warner Bros.

But already "The Golden Compass" is whipping up the same controversy which saw the "Harry Potter" series based on the novels by British author J. K Rowling, accused by some on the religious right of promoting witchcraft.

The author's attack on organized religion has been toned down for the film, in a bid to attract as wide as audience as possible, something director Chris Weitz has acknowledged.

"In the books the Magisterium is a version of the Catholic Church gone wildly astray from its roots," Weitz wrote in the British Daily Telegraph.

But "if that's what you want in the film, you'll be disappointed," he warned.

However, the sanitized version of Pullman's book has failed to appease the Catholic League, which gathers some 350,000 members, and which has already been sending out leaflets denouncing the film.

"The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books," said president William Donohue.

"Unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books," he added.

The League already took on the movie world in 2006 to denounce the blockbuster "The Da Vinci Code" and its central tenant that Jesus Christ had a child by Mary Magdalene whose descendants still survive today.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops however has been more nuanced in its approach warning in a review of "The Golden Compass" of its "anti-clerical subtext, standard genre occult elements, character born out of wedlock, a whiskey-guzzling bear."

But it adds that "taken purely on its own cinematic terms, (it) can be viewed as an exciting adventure story with a traditional struggle between good and evil, and a generalized rejection of authoritarianism."

"The Golden Compass" will be released in some 3,000 cinemas and only 60 have so far refused to screen it, according to the industry daily Variety.

"It's this undisguised anti-religious theme that has numerous groups in a lather, but perhaps more of an issue for some ... will be the film's lack of exciting uplift and the almost unrelievedly nasty treatment of the young characters by a host of aggressively unpleasant elders," Variety added.

I mean seriously its just a book.
There is no depiction of Jesus in the book. Hell (excuse the pun) for that matter I don't even think it mentions any religious denomination in the book. But religious fundamentalists are up in arms over it.

Same way they were up in arms over the Harry Potter Books.
I mean REALLY! Harry Potter is a problem? Witch craft is the problem afflicting the faith? Seriously?

The Church has lost its way long before this book or Potter came along.
Perhaps instead of dealing with superficial things like the fictitious books that writers with vivid imaginations are writers, they should be dealing with the problems of Priests that are not allowed to marry, Priests abusing kids and the dwindling number of faithful that are going to church.

It has little to do with Books and Movies.

Its not at the level of the Sudan problems over a Teddy Bear. But its still pretty overblown.

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