Denver’s archbishop is no fan of the movie. Or the books from which it sprang. Key graphs:
The aggressively anti-religious, anti-Christian undercurrent in “The Golden Compass” is unmistakable and at times undisguised. The wicked Mrs. Coulter alludes approvingly to a fictional version of the doctrine of Original Sin. When a warrior Ice Bear -one of the heroes of the story -breaks into the local Magisterium headquarters to take back the armor stolen from him, the exterior walls of the evil building are covered with Eastern Christian icons. And for Catholics in our own world, of course, “Magisterium” refers to the teaching authority of the Church -hardly a literary coincidence. The idea that any Christian film critics could overlook or downplay these negative elements, as some have seemed to do, is simply baffling.
Strangest of all -and in striking contrast to the Harry Potter and Narnia stories -is the absence of joy or any real laughter in the movie. The talented child actress who plays the film’s leading role is hobbled by a character that is uniformly unpleasant, rebellious, belligerent and humorless; the kind of young person described by one of my parent friends as needing a “long time-out.”