Monday, March 21, 2011

Outrage (not mine)

I found this write-up interesting because there's some truth to it, especially the second part. 
'One easy way for an author to break out is to offend Christians—easier, apparently, than writing something beautiful or profound.'
. . .
'Authors are certainly aware of the manifold blessings of being condemned. Pullman, also the author of the His Dark Materials series, expressed palpable disappointment in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald: "I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak. I'm a great fan of J. K. Rowling, but the people—mainly from America's Bible Belt—who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.'
I remember saying very similar things after reading His Dark Materials.  HDM is a series where you can feel the author's hatred of God.  I could never figure out why people were accusing HP of trying to do what HDM was actually doing.  I thought that if lots of people ever read HDM, things might get really ugly for Pullman because Christians in the U.S. do tend to respond with outrage before thinking.

When I heard that The Golden Compass was going to be made into a movie targeted at children (especially because of how brutal the second book in the trilogy gets in addition to all the God-hating), I was shocked.  I was surprised to read Nicole Kidman saying it wasn't anti-God at all because she was a Catholic, and she wouldn't star in something anti-God.  (I mean, that's just kind of hard to deal with for other reasons, but, well . . .) 

The film-makers did manage to twist it into something more anti-establishment than anti-God, but they also made a crappy movie.  By taking out the rage and intensity that drove the books, they created a tasteless mush of a movie that couldn't succeed nearly as well as Harry Potter because it couldn't engage anyone.  You can't rip out something's beating heart and expect it to continue to live.  In the name of marketing, they made a lot of poor choices.  Adapters, beware.

To be fair, there was some brilliant stuff in the movie, too.  It just couldn't generate the same interest and passion as the original overall.  It also didn't get the notoriety it would have gotten had it taken a few more honest risks and followed the heart of the original source material. 

Then again, I'm pretty sure it couldn't be a good movie at all because of how intricate everything in the book is.  This is another one that would have made a great TV series, with plenty of time to sprawl out and develop characters and make us care for them before slaughtering and/or maiming them.

 I still can't get over the fact that these are popular children's books in other countries.  They're brilliant, but they're darkly brilliant.  There aren't easy endings nor happy endings.  They're too complicated and realistic for that.

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