Saturday, February 7, 2009

It met my expectations.

I never really intended to see The Golden Compass. At least, I was not ever going to go out of my way to see it. And I certainly wasn't going to spend money to see it. But dh found it at the library today and checked it out, so I ended up watching it at last. The movie version met my expectations--great special effects, excellent acting, yet still a lame story pushing the author's annoying agenda ("I can't believe in God, so let's get's rid of the Kingdom of Heaven and replace it with a Republic of Heaven."-paraphrased from quotes on

About the time they were producing The Golden Compass, I came across the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman and decided to read it since I had once heard a girl say they were some of her favorite books. By the time I finished them, I had to wonder why she liked them so much, for she seemed well-read and faithful. Not only does Mr. Pullman amuse himself by killing off God and obliterating the soul after death, the trilogy doesn't even tell a satisfying story.

The trilogy's plot meanders all over the place. Philip Pullman has said repeatedly "There are no rules." Apparently, he feels that way about fantasy writing, too, and in a genre where authors generally put great effort into building internally consistent worlds, Philip Pullman gives us a trilogy that hops dimensions at his will (despite a first book in which such dimension travel is so difficult that it takes a young boy's murder to accomplish it) and is full of illogical and unexplained actions and circumstances. Also, I found His Dark Materials guilty of having some very tedious parts, introducing new and rather irrelevant characters at odd places, killing off some characters in shocking (for the sake of shock) ways, and reaching a climax that is insipid* and not worth all the pages that led up to it. I really liked his Ruby in the Smoke, but I think in that book, he actually did follow rules because he was stuck in Victorian England. How unfortunate that the author espouses the philosophy that "[w]e don't need lists of rights and wrongs" because he would write better books if he paid more attention to some basic guidelines for fantasy writers. At the very least, he could give the readers a happy ending! Why does he think we're reading "fantasy" in the first place?

*Spoiler: The climax of the trilogy is that young Lyra and Will (ooh, I wonder if his name is significant!) share a sort-of romantic moment in a grove where she feeds him berries. It is obviously a parallel to the Garden of Eden story, yet while the incident is short and childish, their new *love* somehow results in saving everyone in all dimensions...until death, of course, at which point all souls will happily disintegrate. As for Lyra and Will with their oh-so-significant budding love, they quickly experience a wrenching farewell when cruel necessity parts them forever.

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