Hanna Rosin has an article in this month’s Atlantic titled “How Hollywood saved God.” This is familiar territory for Rosin, who just published “God’s Harvard” and has written before about the evangelical Christian movement in Hollywood.
This month, New Line Cinema will release The Golden Compass, based on the first book in a trilogy of edgy childrenâs novels written by the British author Philip Pullman. A trailer for the movie evokes The Lord of the Rings, and comparisons have been made to The Chronicles of Narnia. All three are epic adventures that unfold in a rich fantasy world, perfect for the big screen. But beyond that basic description, the comparisons fall apart. In the past, Pullman has expressed mainly contempt for the books on which the other movies were based. He once dismissed the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an âinfantile workâ primarily concerned with âmaps and plans and languages and codes.â Narnia got it even worse: âMorally loathsome,â he called it. âOne of the most ugly and poisonous things Iâve ever read.â He described his own series as Narniaâs moral opposite. âThatâs the Christian one,â he told me. âAnd mine is the non-Christian.â
Pullmanâs books have sold 15 million copies worldwide, although itâs difficult to imagine adolescent novels any more openly subversive. The series, known collectively as His Dark Materials, centers on Lyra Belacqua, a preteen orphan whoâs pursued by a murderous institution known as âthe Magisterium.â Or to use the more familiar name, âthe Holy Church.â In its quest to eradicate sin, the Church sanctions experiments involving the kidnap and torture of hundreds of childrenâexperiments that separate body from soul and leave the children to stumble around zombie-like, and then die.
The point of Rosin’s article is that after five years and a bunch of rewrites, not to mention $180 million in production, producers have taken the anti-religious out of Pullman’s epic. I think.
See, I don’t have a subscription to The Atlantic anymore. (I rarely enjoyed reading it.) So all I got for free online are the two paragraphs above. If any God Blog readers have a subscription, please, inform us of what the article is really about.