The daily edition of the official Vatican newspaper has come out with a harsh criticism of the movie "The Golden Compass, describing it as a hopeless story based on the ideology of the 70's.
In a long editorial article, Andrea Monda, a well known literary and movie critic who writes for several Italian newspapers, says "the Golden Compass of Chris Weisz, is as much of an anti-Christmas film as it can be."
The news that during its opening weekend, the Golden Compass made far less than what New Line expected, “can be consoling,” wrote Monda. In fact, the movie critic thinks that the sales were so bad that it will probably block immediate production of the second book of Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'.
After describing the quest of the movie’s heroine, Lyra, to liberate other children imprisoned by the "Magisterium," L'Osservatore Romano writes: "outside the metaphor of Pullman, it would be necessary to close Christian schools, [cease] the teaching of religion at school, not to speak of the violence that Baptism is to children."
"This is, in short, the 'meaning' of this first episode: a Gnostic fantasy saga bathed in a 70's sauce, in which happiness rest in independence, not in relationships."
No Similarity to Tolkien or Lewis
The L'Osservatore article also highlights that "in the name of his 'militant' atheism, Pullman has many times criticized and condemned the 'religious' fantasies of C. S. Lewis and J.R. R. Tolkien, and therefore it is surprising that those in charge of New Line have freely launched the film with the slogan "from the same producers of the Lord of the Rings": between the world of the Golden Compass, which is almost completely covered in ice and the Middle Earth of the Hobbits there is a insurmountable abyss."
The column's author recalls that also in Narnia the world lives under a permanent winter, "but all the creatures of the universe live in the hope of the return of Christmas."
"Instead, hope in Pullman's world simply does not exist; especially since there is no salvation but only personal capacity, individualism, aimed at controlling situations and dominating events."
"In a scene somehow dark and frightening … we see Lyra, the main character of the entire saga, repeating to herself as a commandment: 'dominate fear, I must dominate fear'", the critic writes.
"There is no salvation –he adds- because there is no Savior: each one is left alone with his or her own capacities and a goal to be reached, which for Pullman is to live free and independent, discovering the truth that the Authority hides from the people, it is a mere personal conquest, not a 'team effort,' much less a gift."
L'Osservatore's article says that it is not surprising then that Pullman, "in a long interview posted few years ago on the Guardian Online said that 'I am with Satan, certainly not with God,' or that he unleashed time and again against Narnia and its creator, Lewis, [who he claims is] guilty of trying to 'indoctrinate' his readers."
Cold and Hopeless
"Watching the film based on the first book, the viewer, if honest and mildly gifted with a critical mind, will have no particular emotions, but a great coldness, which is not a consequence only of the polar landscape. Pullman's world in fact is a world where there is no natural sun shining but everything seems to be mechanized, deprived of true life".
L'Osservatore's column also notes that "for Pullman the machine is central, it has triumphed: there are planes and vessels all highly mechanized, the bears are armored; and one of those, Iorek, will become Lyra's ally.” Yet, he too is devoid of emotion, he doesn’t say “'I have a covenant with you,' but 'I have a contract’ with you and when Lyra discovers the identity of her father, she doesn’t experience any other emotions than bringing him the object of power, because the main objective is to achieve the task: no filial love, just an ideological solidarity."
"All this coldness seems to confirm the theory, certainly not to the liking of Pullman, that when the human being leaves God out of his horizon, everything becomes reduced, sad, cold and inhuman."
In short, for L'Osservatore Romano, The Golden Compass "is a film that leaves you cold, because it makes present the coldness and hopelessness of rebellion, loneliness and individualism."