Catholic News Service
Vatican paper says 'Golden Compass' lacks hope, leaves viewer cold
By John Thavis
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican newspaper criticized the movie "The Golden Compass," saying the film depicts a fantasy world that is without emotion, without hope and without love.
In that sense, the movie reflects the anti-Christian ideology of Philip Pullman, the author of the book on which the movie is based, the newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in a review Dec. 18.
"It's a film that leaves one cold, because it brings with it the coldness and the desperation of rebellion, solitude and individualism," the newspaper said.
"In the world of Pullman, hope simply doesn't exist, in part because there is no salvation but only personal, individualistic capacity to control the situation and dominate events," it said.
The movie has provoked controversy in the United States. Some Christian critics have said the film is anti-religious, for example, in its depiction of a pseudo-religious dictatorship known as the "Magisterium." Others have said that even if the film is not explicitly anti-Christian, it may lead young people to read Pullman's books and be exposed to his openly atheistic agenda.
The Vatican newspaper said it was clear from interviews that Pullman despises religion and that his books are based on an atheistic ideology.
The movie, it said, shows the result of such an ideology: a world in which love is missing. As a result, the film has an emptiness and is "very far away from humanity," it said.
In the movie, human freedom is depicted as doing what one wants, without obeying anyone's orders, it said. Emotions are absent, even when the young protagonist finds her father. It is a world in which machines count more than human life, it said.
"The spectator of this film, if he is honest and gifted with a critical spirit, will feel no particular emotion, except for a great coldness -- which is not only due to the polar scenes," it said.
All this seems to confirm that "when God is pushed off the horizon, everything is made smaller, sadder, colder and less human," it said.
The article noted that "The Golden Compass" was not faring as well as expected at the box office, and said it appeared this could block plans for cinema adaptations of the other books in Pullman's trilogy, titled "His Dark Materials."
"If that should happen, it wouldn't be a big loss," it said.