Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Golden Compass

Went to see the Golden Compass last night. We tried to go last weekend and when I got the text message for the movie times it said the Golden Compass was playing Saturday at 7:00PM. We showed up, but no such luck. The Golden Compass didn’t start playing at the theater until last Wednesday.

I enjoyed the movie a lot, but I admit I let myself be charmed by it. J was not so sold. As we talked about it, I let all of its faults seep through. A lot of liberties were taken to fit the book into a 2-hour movie, which didn’t bother me because I remembered the story well enough from reading the book a couple of years ago. Lyra is well-cast and I thought the actress did a good job with the part. Is it possible Nicole Kidman isn’t actually human? She absolutely glowed in this movie and it seems more likely she comes from another planet. Seriously, light emanates out of her. It’s amazing. Daniel Craig: disappointingly little screen time.

But here’s my real problem with the movie. One of the things that makes the book the Golden Compass so amazing is the introduction of daemons, that every person has an animal incarnation following them around, representative of their true being. It’s impossible not to imagine what your own might be. The relationship a person has with her daemon is the closest relationship a person will ever have. Your daemon is not just your best friend, it knows you more intimately and loves you more unconditionally than is possible for any other person or thing to know and love you.

In the movie, Lyra’s daemon takes the form of an annoying sidekick. It didn’t change shapes enough. The sense of relationship was so lacking, that when the danger arose of them being separated from one another, it didn’t really bother me. Daemons are as complex as their owners, but the movie over-simplifies their characters. Mrs. Coulter’s monkey is not beautiful but menacing (like Mrs. Coulter), she’s just a bully of a monkey, plain mean.

I like to think my daemon would be a doe. J says mine would be a bush baby, but hopefully he was joking.

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