*clears throat* I just looked at my list to see what was next, and it seems I forgot one between Eragon and Inkheart, The Golden Compass which was released in 2007. So before I move on the next blockbuster series chock full of sparkling vampires, let’s talk about the His Dark Materials series.
His Dark Materials; Books (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass): 1995-2000, Movie: 2007
This is another series I have not yet read. I know, I know, it’s becoming a trend, but you know how it is so many books, so little time. I first discovered it in my high school’s Media Center, but never had a chance to check it out then and promptly forgot about it until talk of a movie version was going around. I had a friend at the time (the same one I went to see the first Narnia movie with) that had read them and he talked about them and the upcoming movie. However, at that time I was a) probably reading Inkspell (when the talk was going on it 2006), b) reading Twilight during late 2007, or c) ill since at the time as I was increasing having migraines and as it turned out was very ill indeed. But that’s not the point. They have been on my ever growing to read list ever since I heard about the movie and saw it, but since the subsequent books were never adapted, I put them on the back burner as other books I wanted to read came out. However, thanks to friends that have read them I’m vaguely familiar with the books.
The Golden Compass follows young Lyra Belacqua, who lives in a parallel world were humans have animal companions called daemons which embody their souls so to speak. Lyra accidentally learns of Dust, a substance which the Church like Magisterium believes is related to Original Sin. Dust seems to only be attracted to adults and the Church wishes to eradicate it by performing experiments on children and their daemons in an effort to prevent children from acquiring Dust in adulthood. The Church pressure’s Lyra’s guardian to turn her over to the mysterious Mrs. Coulter, but before she leaves he gives her The Golden Compass, or the alethiometer, a device that reveals the truth and can answer any question. Lyra is revealed to be the only one that can read it. Lyra ends up on an adventure to discover what Dust is and what Mrs. Coulter is up to. The world includes many interesting characters, from witches to intelligent armored ice bears to aeronauts and includes some Steampunk devices. The sequels tell of Lyra’s further adventures in other parallel earths. However, due to the themes and anti-Catholic Church sentiments, the books are sometimes challenged and the Church attempted to prevent the release of the movie.
My college had a small theater and showed movies on Friday nights. I only went a few times my first semester (Spring 2008) since they typically didn’t have anything I wanted to watch, and I had so much reading to do for my lit classes I usually didn’t have the time, and if I did, I went out to a movie with friends just to get off campus. One of the movies I went to see with my roommate was The Golden Compass. Neither of us had read the books, so it was interesting for us to see it from that perspective. As you can see from the movie poster above, the movie has some big name actors in it, as these types of movies tend to have for their adult characters. Now, I can’t say how accurate the movie is, and I know they changed some things as is typically done, but I don’t know what other than the ending. Wikipedia, if you trust it, has a section on the film’s Wiki page devoted to the changes. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed it. Pullman created a unique parallel world and characters that are equally interesting and mysterious. However, it was only moderately successful being a victim of the Catholic Chruch’s criticisms, fans criticisms that it’s themes were diluted, and mixes critical reception. It did manage to win a BAFTA and an Academy Award for it’s seamless visual effects. While deviating from source material is usually the reason an adaptation fails, I think when you combine it with the criticisms this movie received, it’s no wonder it more or less failed at the box office and that plans for the sequels were axed.
I think I will read these next, after I finish my current YA series read, The Mortal Instruments. I just hope the movie is still playing if even at the cheap theater by the time I finish the first book. Having read and seen it will make for a better post. And I promise a few more of those are coming.