Recently, Uday, mom, and I went to see a movie called The Golden Compass. We were excited to see the movie because Uday loves seeing the special effects of a movie in the theater. Mom was excited to see this movie because there is a part with witches and things similar to that nature... I was excited about it because I had heard it was a controversial movie! I was not sure why it was controversial, so I was looking forward to find out.
As I was watching I figured out that the "golden compass" was symbolic of intuition and/or inner truth. The next thing I thought was interesting is that the movie called the animals that were around everyone "demons" and that they were considered the soul of that person. The pre-adolescent kids' demons could change their form into different animals as different situations arose. As a therapist this is symbolic to me because, "diagnosing personality" is mainly done with adults since younger teens/children have not truly formed all of their personality. Children are still finding their true identity, as is illustrated in the movie by their changing "demons" or souls and adults have fixed "demons" (their personalities are already formed).
As I was watching the movie I was still having trouble figuring out why it is controversial? One mystery in the movie is for the main character (a girl called Lyra) to find out about something called "dust". I'm not sure myself what the "dust" symbolizes. In the movie they say that it is discovered in a parallel universes. It appears as though this "dust" is causing people to rebel against authority and that the "dust" is connected between the person and their demon (or soul).
In the movie, Lyra goes on many adventures. She keeps her promise and puts her life at risk to find her friend that was kidnapped along with many other children as the antagonist in the movie are trying to separate kids from their "demons" (or souls). She learns to master her fears, and makes friend with beings that she most probably would not have if she did not set out on this journey to save the kidnapped kids. At one point in the movie she is kidnapped herself and they try to separate her from her soul. The antagonists in the movie believe that separating kids from their soul is a good thing because it will lead them to have indecision. Indecision will cause the kids to do what they are told. Thus, the antagonist in the movie, also known as "The Authority", think that it is good for the kids to lose their free will and do what the authority tells them to do for their own good.
This movie has other interesting details and characters as well and Uday was satisfied with the special effects. It was not until I was walking out of the movie theater that I started to figure more of the movie out and how it could be seen as controversial.
The authority in the movie is symbolic of certain religions (that consider God as an authority). The girl is trying to eliminate this authority, and the authority thinks it is better if the children just do what they are told. I had to explain this to my mom and Uday because it is very subtle in the movie and difficult to find and figure out at first glance. Uday and I actually got in a debate afterwards because he said that I did not know anything about religion. Uday was brought up as a Protestant Christian in
So to prove him wrong (what I do best) I looked it up on the Internet and discovered that I was pretty much on target. The people who consider themselves Christian, were outraged by the movie as they saw it as teaching children to kill God and not respect authority (I did not read this but I imagine they also mean parents as well). I also saw the movie in a way that religious people might get upset about how the golden compass was teaching the girl to listen to herself (intuition) instead of asking God (by praying).
It so happens that the movie is a book written by Phillip Pullman who people say is an Atheist. He has written a three part series of the novel (first of which is The Golden Compass) which is now being produced as a three part movie. Here is an interesting article that discusses these thoughts about him being an Atheist. Some comments said that this movie was to show the other side of "The Chronicles of Narnia". I have not seen that movie yet, but Uday thinks it is a really good movie. The comments also stated that the movie was subtle on purpose in the hopes that parents would find it innocent and then buy the book for their children. The book is said to be more specific and more detailed. Many religious societies have encouraged others to ban the movie and the book.
This movie got me thinking, I was looking for controversy and I had to look very deep and hard to find it. My mom and Uday did not see it and I believe most kids would not see it this way either. It makes me wonder if the religious people are more insecure about their beliefs that they become defensive easily. Even if the movie was teaching everything that the religious people might be afraid that it is teaching, what is the harm in listening to one's inner truth, questioning authority, and seeking the scientific proof? Ironically, I don't consider myself an Atheist, but I do participate in Atheist type behaviors, which I like to call educated behaviors.
If you get a chance to see this movie, please write your comments below...What is controversial to one person is not to another. I'd be interested in learning your take on the movie!