The Golden Compass

goldencompass.jpgI keep reading that the movie The Golden Compass suppresses the anti-religious message in Phillip Pullman’s books, but the movie has plenty of punch, besides being full of stunning imagery and good acting. I thought it was great (and now I need to read the books).

Free-thinking Lord Asrial is trying to discover the truth about dust, a mysterious substance that travels to other universes. The church, or magisterium, tries to use its authority to suppress his research. It turns out they’re got a scheme to separate children from their daemons, the animals that accompany them everywhere as their souls. That way, the children won’t be affected by the dust, which can make them question authority. Lyra, Lord Asrial’s niece, joins the side of the truth seekers, with the help of an alethiometer, a device that measures the truth. There are children to be saved at the North Pole…

A moviegoer could come away thinking Pullman is for witches and demons and multiple universes, talking polar bears and mysterious dust. The movie’s real theme, though, is truth. Good in the movie is lined up with free inquiry and the unimpeded search for the truth. Evil is the monstrous institution of the magisterium, which battles against the truth- seekers.

But wait, if the movie is pro-truth, why shouldn’t it be construed as pro-God, or even pro-Jesus? (Wasn’t it Jesus who said “I am the way and the truth”?) It will take any moviegoer a moment of honest reflection to admit the power of the movie’s message. All religions claim contact with truth, but they don’t empower members of the religion to be truth-seekers themselves.

I’m not just talking about the obvious cases, like the Roman Catholic church. I think the same is true even in the most liberal religious communities. The movie brilliantly makes children the target of the magisterium–it’s brilliant because children really are the crux of the matter. They don’t yet believe, and will ask challenging questions, if permitted.

This whole business of teaching children “truths” before they’re mature enough to make up their own minds is tricky. We do it all the time. We teach them all sorts of facts before they can verify them as facts. We teach them moral values before they can discuss morality. We teach them political attitudes before they are in any position to understand the pro’s and con’s.

Religion is a special case. For one reason, that’s because children are allowed to ask questions about all the other topics, but discouraged from asking questions about religion. In the middle of a religion class, even at the most liberal church or synagogue, a child cannot raise his or her hand and say “is there really a god”?

Another problem is that many religious ideas, as they are presented to young children, are not even wholly believed by the teachers…at least in a liberal religious setting. The child is taught, as if it were a plain truth, that God created the world in six days, and Noah put the animals on the ark, and Abraham married Sarah, and Moses walked up the mountain, when the grownups are not so literal in their beliefs.

Well, but young children can’t understand the subtleties of a liberal theology. But then why not hold off on teaching them about religion until they’re older? The intention is obviously to “get em while they’re young.” But why is that important? The truth is, I think, that children are taught young in the hopes that the ideas will take firm root. But then doesn’t religious education simply exploit the credulousness of children?

I don’t think any religion can claim to encourage people in the open-minded pursuit of truth. This is an especially uncomfortable fact for those of us who like some things about religion, or even participate in one (as I do).

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29 Comments.

  1. It seems to me that you and the movie are both contradicting yourselves. If I am seeking truth and come to believe that a particular religion (or the magisterium) is true, by what you stated I am no longer a truth seeker but one who suppresses truth.So truth is only truth if it does not involve religion? Judging by the movie I have to say that Pullman is just as guilty of suppressing free inquiry as those whom he accuses.

  2. No contradiction, I don’t think. My point in the post is not that churches and synagogues don’t posses the truth about reality. It’s that they’re against free inquiry. They don’t encourage or allow people to be genuine truth seekers. In the most conservative religious institutions there’s no truth-seeking at all–there’s just imbibing doctrine. In more liberal institutions, there’s truth seeking, but within limits. You can’t find a religious institution where Sunday school means kids discussing and debating and figuring things out–God or no God, one God or many, reincarnation or no reincarnation. SInce I think this kind of open-ended inquiry is the way to go, I’ve got to have mixed feelings about religion.

  3. I guess my thing is this, religion is not to blame for suppressing free inquiry. If you gather any group of people who agree on a specific topic you will have the same problem. Global warming is a great example, true or not, anyone who says they are unsure is quickly attacked and suppressed. I think all groups are guilty of this whether it be Christian, Jew or Atheist.

    I would also have to disagree with the liberal churches being more open to questioning then conservative churches. I have found with my experience that the more educated the pastor, rabbi, etc… is the more they are open to questioning (liberal or conservative). I find the problem has more to do with this: is the organization fueled by thought or emotion.

    I hope I am making sense. As funny as this might sound Philosophy is a new thing for me, and I am still learning how to dialogue with people about ideas.

  4. Here’s a little personal experience to reflect on this issue of religion preventing children from being free-thinkers. I am one of seven children. My father is an Anglican priest. We were brought up to go to church. We went to a religious school – not just a faith school but a private Anglican foundation school with compulsory daily chapel. In Richard Dawkins’ language – if for a moment we allow that it makes sense at all – I was a child who was labeled Christian, as were all my siblings.

    We are now adult. I have one brother who is now a priest, of the liberal variety. A second brother goes to church, but mostly I think because in the village in which he lives, it is the centre of the community activities in which he takes part. None of my three sisters go to church or would say they were Christian (well, one of them might). My third brother openly calls himself an atheist. I am an agnostic.

    So my parent’s get-them-while-they-are-young hit rate is pretty poor. One was ordained. A second goes to church. The rest have indifferent relationships to Christianity at best.

    It’s only one family’s experience of course – though not a bad sample with seven kids. But all in all, it would seem to me that what our religious education gave us was precisely the ability to think for ourselves.

  5. There is a mildly interesting discussion on this subject going on over on Stephen Law’s blog just now.

  6. Mark,

    My thoughts about this are naturally colored by my own experience as well. I actually rather like participating in things religious, but find myself unable to come even close to believing in them. There’s no pull there whatever. I’ve always thought this must be because I had no exposure to religious ideas as a child…just none. The way I feel about God, Jesus, Moses, all these things, is what you’d feel about the ideas of some alien tribe. They’re just “out there”–not live possibilities.

    I figure what childhood religious education is about is making these ideas seem very familiar, instead of alien. That way they are supposed to “take” with at least some people. The “take level” in your family of seven children was not so good …but isn’t that still the intent?

    As for what’s wrong with making all this stuff familiar… Here’s another story (which won’t impress my fellow atheists). I actually did put my kids in religious school when they were younger. We tried to take an officially agnostic line at home–you decide what you believe. It all fell apart because there was so much literalism to the curriculum. Our kids would come home and ask if all these things were really true–creation in six days, Moses walking up the mountain, etc. The only way to make them comfortable was to say it really was true…and we couldn’t, so the whole adventure came to an end.

    Before we made a decision I went and observed, saw all the literalism, discussed it with the people in charge–and they said they talk that way with young children. In later years they talk about what it all means and get less literal. That’s all very sensible, in a way, but the bottom line is that teachers are telling kids things without really thinking they’re supported by evidence or even true! All to produce that sense of familiarity, so in the long term some level of belief will be possible. I just thought it was all deceptive.

    Hence my agreement with Pullman–the magisterium is not on the side of open-minded truth seeking.

  7. they said they talk that way with young children. In later years they talk about what it all means and get less literal.

    Sorry if this annoys anyone, but I think that’s a kind of malpractice (for educators). When the children are young and thus believe what they are told, the people at the religious school teach them stark nonsense in a literal way. Then later, when they’re less credulous, they get less literal – when it’s too late. There’s something really creepy about that – they don’t believe it literally themselves, apparently, but they teach it literally to the very people who don’t have the equipment yet to resist.

  8. Keith McGuinness

    Jean K: “The ‘take level’ in your family of seven children was not so good …but isn’t that still the intent?”

    Of course that usually is exactly the intent. And simple observation demonstrates that it works.

    I and my two siblings were made to go to “Sunday School”.

    I was compelled to keep going even when I made it clear that I didn’t believe and didn’t want to go. There was nothing “liberal” about that.

  9. Well and besides, I’m not sure the take level in Mark’s family is all that bad – one ordained is a lot.

  10. Ophelia, It certainly seems like not at all the way to put kids in a position to think clearly when they’re old enough. But in any case, I couldn’t possibly stand up and tell kids things as if they were fact, if I didn’t believe them and think there was good reason to believe them. Maybe it is all a game of some sort, and I just don’t really get the rules. Sigh.

  11. I don’t know the film yet, but the three books. The Metasterium aims at prohibiting ‘sin’ or ‘original sin’. Because science tells them that there’s dust and adults radiate it while children don’t. What is the difference between adults and children? Adults commit sins. So dust must have something to do with sins and children should be protected. One way to protect them is to seperate them from their demons. That’s the line of reasoning in the book: always the best intentions by the church. So one may say that Pullman shows us a church that is not only wrong but stupid and obsessed.

    You will see, Jean, when you read the books, that Pullman’s story has something to say about God and the communication between him and the church. It’s quite clear that the heavenly regimen as depicted in the books is depraved. But that does not mean that it is the ‘true God’. One could even think that ‘dust’ is God. So I’m with you that Pullman tells us something about what religion should not be.

  12. I am of the opinion that children might have different potentials for becoming truth seekers. Through analyzing the example of the seven siblings educated under strict Anglican doctrine, I came to remember the very hot discussion dealing with the possibly definable roles of genome and environment in the determination of human behavior and aptitude. One out of seven is within the expected for a putative inherited ability that is at the same time strongly influenced by the environment. Even a very religious upbringing is exposed to a range of information that explicitly challenges or undervalues religion. Questions deriving from this observation are many. Which sort of character determines the faith? Is that “religious” character genetically encoded? Is the environmental factor more important than the putative genetic predisposition in the ability to “inherit” believes?
    Beyond the genetically explainable, it might also be a great challenge to research on the macroscopic level, namely, whether specific physiological (and psychological) characteristics accompany the assumption of faith. Overall, I find that modulating the tendency to assume doctrine would be a better approach in the pursuit of truth than abruptly removing religion or magisterium from children’s education. The film is a good idea.

  13. Jean: I think your situation in the US may be different from in the UK (where, for example, creationism is not mainstream). That aside, I can’t really see that literalism with young children is so bad. For example, I’ve just bought my (now) many nephews and nieces a bunch of children’s books for Christmas – with titles like why aliens don’t like underpants and so on. They are written literally; and in that sense they are not true. But does that mean you won’t read them to your kids? The truth in them – ethical or whatever – is deeper than the story itself. Not unlike religion, I’d have thought. It is surely part of growing up to begin to appreciate metaphor, myth, and the like. As St Paul himself said, when he was a child he thought like a child, and so on…

    On the parental intent issue, I can’t help but feel it is more complicated too. I don’t doubt that my parents thought that a Christian upbringing was the best they could offer, and in that sense they intended us to be fully exposed to it. Who’d do otherwise if you believed God is love.

    But at the same time my Christian education, at least, did inculcate values of freethinking. In religious education, for example, we were taught comparative religion, which is partly about weighing up different approaches. And then I did an RE O-level, where the main paper was on Biblical criticism – note, criticism.

    It seems to me that if you want to find a freethinker, whether or not they are religious is not a good measure in itself. It is whether they are doctrinaire that counts, and of course the secular and religious alike can be doctrinaire.

    On the related matter of the film, for what it’s worth I think that it is much more ambivalent than you allow. If I may be so bold, I’ve blogged about this myself here. But the main point would be that Pullman is too good a story-teller, even myth-maker, to be unequivocally for this or that, in his books at least. (As I remember, and don’t read this if you don’t want to know how it ends, even Mrs Coulter, the magisterium personified, redeems herself. And though the ‘Ancient of Days’ dies, I felt he leaves open the possibility of a transcendent being whom the Ancient of Days once tried to usurp.) At a personal level Pullman confesses clear atheism: he endorsed The God Delusion! Though even then he muddies the water by also saying you couldn’t take the Anglicanism out of him if your tried. And his books are explicitly informed by Milton. That’s why I like the books so much: to my mind he’s wonderfully agnostic.

  14. I have always felt that teaching religion to people under 18 is a form of child abuse. This movie along with your review let’s me know that I am not totally insane in this belief.

    The church has every right to be nervous. If they don’t want to be seen in the truthful light they are in this movie, then they should change.

  15. I can’t really see that literalism with young children is so bad. For example, I’ve just bought my (now) many nephews and nieces a bunch of children’s books for Christmas – with titles like why aliens don’t like underpants and so on.

    But reading or giving story books to children is not the same thing as teachers teaching them in school, as Jean says, ‘as if it were a plain truth, that God created the world in six days, and Noah put the animals on the ark, and Abraham married Sarah, and Moses walked up the mountain.’ There is a big, big difference there, and one which should not be obscured or brushed aside. Religion is not the same thing as fantasy stories, and story books are not the same thing as the school curriculum. Apart from anything else schools are set up as places where the children – the students – are supposed to learn what the teachers tell them; they’re supposed to listen and pay attention and learn; they are, in short, supposed to believe what the teachers tell them. That’s why I said I think it’s malpractice to start out with the literal teaching (of Biblical fictions) and only later get less literal. It’s malpractice because it’s an abuse of the very fact that children are told to learn what they are taught in school.

    Story books are the antithesis of school; they’re a vacation from school, a refuge from it, an escape from it; they’re the Other. They’re not part of a grand continuum of bullshit passed on by adults.

    It seems to me that if you want to find a freethinker, whether or not they are religious is not a good measure in itself. It is whether they are doctrinaire that counts, and of course the secular and religious alike can be doctrinaire.

    But ‘the secular’ can be (and often are) religious. Do you mean non-religious rather than secular?

    Let’s assume so and consider whether the non-religious and religious alike can be doctrinaire.

    They can be, of course; there are all sorts of subjects to be doctrinaire about, by no means all of them are religious. But does that mean that there is no reason at all to think that religious people have no particular tendency to be doctrinaire? I don’t think so. I think the long-entrenched habit of thinking that religion should be immune from robust criticism and questioning is one influence that tends to make religious people doctrinaire. Many defenders of religion, for instance, are so doctrinaire that they can’t mount their defence without consistently misrepresenting what the robust critics say about religion. I’ve noticed it over and over and over again – I could write the strawman version of Dawkins in my sleep by this time.

    Consistent resort to strawman arguments is no friend of free inquiry.

  16. Ah, but the interesting thing is that what I wanted and expected was something like you describe–stories with the “ontology” left ambiguous so it would be up to the child to gradually think about it and discuss it with parents. Instead, the stories were presented in the manner of a history lesson. It happened, just like that. No discussion of did it really happen…it just did Then after the “history” lesson the reality of the whole thing got drilled in by discussions. The teacher would say things to these kids (7 years old) like “What do you do when you want to feel close to God?”

    To be honest, if my kids had been happy, I would have gone along with it and figured we could counteract, as necessary, at home. Turns out though they had their own ideas about these things. They thought this “getting close to God” (e.g.) thing was just very strange. Honestly, with no assistance from us. We took them out because they sort of felt like they were entering a twilight zone where they were expected to say and think things that didn’t make sense to them. This was not giving them the warm feelings about Judaism I was after–just the opposite!

    Maybe religious education can be done better…in fact I bet it could. On the whole though I think important values pull in different directions here–“This is what we believe” is a sentence you have to use a lot in Sunday school, where “What do you believe?” is an awfully nice sentence.

    Sorry, couldn’t read to the end of your message for fear of spoilers. I’m really excited about reading Pullman over the Xmas holiday…it seems appropriate on every level. Snow + polar bears + skepticism. Wonderful.

  17. Whoops, I missed Ophelia’s comment… The “twilight zone” feeling my kids were getting had to do with the official school atmosphere she talks about. I think it felt to them super-strange that things so obviously story-like were being presented as if fact. Hugely confusing in their minds.

    And bear in mind–this is not at the evangelical church down the street–it’s at a very liberal place where all the grown-ups believe in science and biblical criticism, etc. The idea seems to be that truth-for-kids and truth-for-adults are different things. I have problems with that.

  18. Exactly. I’ve always had problems with that – I resented it in childhood. I had a whole worked-out thing about the wrongness of telling children Santa Claus was real. I found it profoundly annoying that adults had solemnly assured me that he was real. I still do – I think that’s an abuse of the epistemic power that adults have.

  19. My parents sent me to Jewish school too. My father is a semi-atheist or an agnostic (let’s say that religion plays absolutely no role in his life) and my mother has a sentimental, non-intellectual attachment to Judaism, especially the ritual part, the seder, lighting candles. In Jewish school they taught me about Moses and the Red Sea, all the literal Bible stuff and I never believed anything, not even at age 7 or 8. I had constant disciplinary problems because I argued with the teachers and at times openly mocked them. At 13 I refused to be Bar Mitzvahed, and the authorities of the synagogue asked me write an essay on what I believed. I did so, and I was expelled from the school. I haven’t set foot in a synagogue since. For me, the whole experience was a waste of time and for my parents, a waste of money. The only thing I learned was a couple of prayers in Hebrew and a total contempt for Judaism as a religion and for religion in general.

  20. amos, An inspiring story for Jewish children everywhere… 🙂 Sounds like you reacted as my kids did. It’s got to have to do with what goes on at home. If you don’t hear your parents talking like there’s a deity, it’s going to seem like a crazy story, I think, and it’s going to be annoying having to put so many hours into learning, worshiping, praying etc. I’d love to read that 13 year old essay of yours. I’m sure you made lots of excellent points.

  21. “For one reason, that’s because children are allowed to ask questions about all the other topics, but discouraged from asking questions about religion. In the middle of a religion class, even at the most liberal church or synagogue, a child cannot raise his or her hand and say “is there really a god”?”…They can’t? I don’t find this claim to be a particularly strong one, but perhaps, as the rest of your point conveys, religion enjoys some particular form of sanctity from open skeptical investigation. Ultimately, I agree that children should be kept from religious indoctrination (as well as political and economic indoctrination). Philosophy, especially metaphysics, is an educative field that children should be exposed to instead of religion. I believe, in fact, that TPM reported a study on a related issue–the philosophical education of younger children–I’ll try to find the exact article. Either way, the concept of God is so complex, that limiting this concept to a specific religious conception is egregiously myopic. It would be similar to teaching a young child, and excuse the hyperbolic example, the tenets of eugenics as the tenets of sound genetic science. The ulterior motives of the teacher saliently stymies the spiritual growth of the child. This is the conflict that I personally have with religion. I am not offended by the principles of some of its teachings, rather, and I think there are those on this blog that would agree, I am offended by the way many religious authorities go about teaching these principles…ie…in intellectually unprincipled ways. This has lead me currently to believe that the problem does not lie in the concept of God, but in the way in which some religious so forcefully monopolize the concept of God. This perhaps explains my interest in metaphysics and the importance of philosophical inquiry.

  22. Jean: Thank you. You’re too kind. At 13 I was far from a proto-Spinoza, but I did know that no one lives for 900 years, that the water of seas rarely part in two because someone waves a stick and that Moses could hardly have written the five books that bear his name if one of them narrates his death, blow by blow. I completely agree with you that without religious feedback in the home, few children will believe Bible stories. My father’s favorite saying, as far as I can recall, is: if it’s too good to be true, it just isn’t true. He is not a philosopher, an intellectual or even a university graduate, but his skepticism and naturalism just went against everything they tried to teach me in Hebrew School.

  23. As far as I’m aware, and I’m pretty sure of this, nobody has offered a cogent refutation of Dawkins et al – in the sense that an impartial observer could agree that it was an intellectually respectable argument.

    Clearly there’s a strong incentive to write such an argument, it would certainly sell well in the Bible belt. And tempting though it is to think so, I’m not convinced that everyone with religious faith is simply too thick to come up with a good argument.

    I think this strongly suggests that religious beliefs rule out free inquiry – believers are having to assess Dawkins’ arguments with one arm tied behind their backs. That’s why people without inquiring minds are more disposed towards religion.

    My daughter’s in a Catholic school, because the alternatives are either not very good or unaffordable, but she’s a natural born atheist. But increasingly (at age ten (her not me)) I feel I’m paying a high price for hypocrisy – the choice will increasingly be between lying to her, asking her to collude in a lie, or putting her in a crap school. At the moment I’m fudging it. Maybe I should ask Richard Dawkins to pay for her education.

  24. A McN, If it’s a good school, I’d call that good parenting, not hypocrisy. Then again, it’s got to be strange thinking of the time that’s spent on transubstantiation instead of physics…if indeed they spend time on those things. We’ve also had to make compromises on the school issue…sad to say, there are no perfect options where we are either.

  25. The main argument appears to be whether children should learn other religions while they are young.
    Personally i learned about religion when i was about 15 and found it fascinating, all these different religions Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Muslim faith have different perspectives on life and death.
    Yet these are huge organisations, many of which do make a conscious effort to help people in some way, but whether they help us learn more about truth is debatable.
    They all suffer from making assumptions about the universe and how it works, while athiesm tends to use empirical knowledge to confirm or deny this.
    I don’t approve of the idea of faith schools a school should not focus on religion regardless of where it is.
    Because religion isolates people into separate groups with different ideas of what is right e.g. golden compass or harry potter.
    Most people i know in the UK tend to view these extreme religious reactions like they would with an insane cousin, nodding and smiling but hoping they were somewhere else while hoping their cousin has a good life.

    I think religion should be the choice of the person, a self constructed religion and philosophy rather than grouping people against others.

    I also don’t like the idea of private schools, they segregate society the same way the old schools for blacks and schools for whites did.
    If private schools were abolished i think crime rates would decrease as members of the public would be able to have a better education.
    I’m not saying private schools are bad, but the whole idea of them should cease to exist as should faith schools, if all countries had the same type of schooling and no faith schools there would be a lower risk of religious extremists, and a smaller divide between rich and poor.

  26. blog.talkingphilosophy.com » Daemonology - pingback on December 13, 2007 at 4:01 pm
  27. Great discussion. I wish I’d have been involved in it when it was posted.

    Public schools are no better than religious schools when it comes to pushing agenda. Teaching false doctrine that advanced physicists, mathematicians, leading inquiries into quantum mechanics, (et.all) know is wrong, and the majority of adults don’t continue education long enough to unlearn the lies taught to them by public schooling.

    Bible stories are agenda driven and being such are shallow representations of truth. They are usually far more in depth if studied from surrounding cultural interactions. Moses was most likely a Pharoah of Egypt. Wording in the bible leads to this, indications of the Egyptian Pharonic Line also provide strong evidence for this. Now doesn’t that change a lot of our understandings of the rest of the stories?

    I follow many paths, science, metaphysics, quantum physics, ancient understandings, and deep phylisophical debates. Nothing in the books or movie rocked my belief in GOD. I already didn’t trust Religion, and that’s what I got from everything in the books and film. I don’t believe in a definable ALL. He begat nobody, and yet is all things.

    How a single cell functions, and how it defends or falls to an invading virus. It’s too perfect. It has to be by design. Each of our bodies have 120 trillion cells. (120,000,000,000,000 cels) A tiny pair of legs called motor protiens, walk 6,000 steps per minute and walk nutrient packets to the nucleus that’s like running 116 miles at the speed of an olympic speed runner. Millions of legs doing this constantly. In every single cell, in every single living creature on earth. Can you imagine the speed involved in that? 40,000 skin cells can fit on the head of a pin. Can you imagine how that would have evolved on such a microscopic level?

    Discovery Channels “Curiosity” program on “Battlefield Cell” just incredible.
    http://www.youtube.com/embed/FOom9GjwvQc?autoplay=1

  28. Dear lord, what a mess the makers and writers made out of this film.

    It started off interesting with hope then very quickly it descended into a mess of re-written scripts TOTALLY different to the book. The scenes themselves looked beautiful but everything else after that was a complete mess. Plots were left unexplained, the reasons for many, many characters existents and actions were not even explained or touched on

    as well as their very actions being completely changed or invented

    totally from thin air! You were left wondering many a time “why is this happening” – “who did that happen?” – “what has this got to do with the story” – what the heck is going on?” and “would someone please explain why ALL of the characters are doing what they are doing? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

    The makers of this film TOTALLY took a meat cleaver to the story. Cut huge and I mean HUGE chunks out, totally twisted scenes around to an unbelievable extent, let characters live that actually die, NEVER explained backgrounds of anything! Leaving out the fact that they rewrote the whole book and made a complete shambles of it, just as a non-reader, many have commented to me in the cinema, on the way out and afterward to this present day (June 2008) the equivalent of “you could tell they pulled the good guts out of it”.

    Dear god, if your going to make a film from a book, stick with the book or make up one of your own completely. Don’t waste our time and your own by buying the rights to a book and then ripping it to shreds and sticking it back together again in an unintelligible mess. What is the point of buying the rights to a book in the first place if your going to totally re-write it (and screw it up in the process too to boot)?

    I understand that the makers were spineless and cowered to the religious nuts by removing anything that made any intelligence to those with brains. The effect of this cowardice left behind a film that was a total waste of time, an insult to the original writer of the book and a waste of talent that should have been used better in a greater film than this mixed, unexplained unmitigated disaster.

    If there is going to be sequels and going by this film, I hope to all heavens there is NOT – can we the audience have a change of makers, scriptwriters and a producer, a director with a brain and at least someone with guts to stand up against the zealous religious right.

    To sum up: what a complete mess and waste of talent.

    This film could have been so, so so much better.

    Rating: one out of ten.

  29. without knowledge of the existence of books this film was (apparently) based upon, I can say that 9 years later I still enjoyed the movie. There were scenes too dark, my guess it’s that in the last epic battle they were trying to highlight the deaths of the daimons which can be more appreciated with a dark background as the daimon turns into vanishing light particles…
    I also guess the filmmakers did what they could to best adapt a novel into a two-hour video format and it seems they did a good enough job; it must be quite difficult to summarize and squeeze every little detail into a 115-formula, being the hollywood format a max. of 90 minutes as the average movie goer attention span is low before wanting to check their cellphones….
    let us also put into perspective that the film came out about three years before the social media full takeover of feelings and reason. and so are the reviews on this film in this blog.
    Religion is such a scam. Hence, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    Welcome to 2016, almost half of it gone. Most of the comments here seem so archaich…

    I cant wait s sequel to the movie has not yet been made… I think it had potential.

    I came looking for a philosophical take on the concepts of dust, parallel realities, alternative universes, and any reference to a historical ancient device measuring of thruth. I mean, the mechanical wasps powered by an evil energy is somewhat akin of a steampunk device…
    Yes the movie lacked better photography, and a sequel would need to seriously satisfy the desire for great graphics and the demanding intelligence of the younger generation… because riding a polar bear is not believable, hilarious, for children of last decade… less obscure scenes, more intelligent dialogs where children can learn something from, and better cgi. is it too much to ask?

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