Exeter, Devon UK • Sep 22, 2023 • VOL XII
Exeter, Devon UK • Sep 22, 2023 • VOL XII
Home Screen Dream – Sequel

Dream – Sequel

Catherine Lloyd, Copy Editor, delves into why The Golden Compass didn't fulfil the promise it had upon release.
5 mins read
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Catherine Lloyd, Copy Editor, delves into why The Golden Compass didn’t fulfil the promise it had upon release.

The Golden Compass was set to rival the likes of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, upon release, but not only did it fail at bearing the mantle of its predecessor, it dissipated into the ether. With HBO set to release His Dark Materials this autumn, it is time for the long-awaited redemption of Philip Pullman’s renowned trilogy.

Re-watching The Golden Compass, it is clear to see how my childhood, rose-tinted spectacles glossed over the disjointed plot-line, hasty exposition and abrupt ending. In my youth, I had found the patchwork-quilt of characters, species and histories to be endearing rather than what most would see as a poorly-crafted screen-adaptation. The villiainess, Mrs Coulter – played by Nicole Kidman – was my first memorable encounter with evil embodied, who along with the Gobblers severed the bond between humans and their daemon; even in early adulthood the splitting of Billy and his daemon, Ratter, still stays with me. Mrs.Coulter’s strategic cunning is blatant as she befriends Lyra only to steal ownership of Lyra’s Alethiometer, a compass-like contraption that is the tie between humans and dust, granting Lyra access to truth itself.

For me, The Golden Compass will be remembered as a twenty year-old cliffhanger suspended like a pendulum, waiting patiently for a sequel to accompany it

From the sentient daemons who incarnate a human’s spirit, to nomad gyptians who navigate the canals, the scale of the universe was immense, so immense in-fact that Chris Weitz struggled to recreate it. Weitz’s retelling of Pullman’s bestseller lacked tonality and texture; the character development was limited; spatially we cut from Jordan College, to a retro-futuristic london, to a gyptian boat, to a northern Norwegian port and as the universe Pullman crafted was so full, Weitz’s attempt is disorientating, without fluidity. Without fitting exposition, the plotline is calling to be fleshed out in order for Pullman’s retro-futurist universe to become a fully-realised world. Difficulties plagued production of Weitz’s adaptation, Pullman’s commentary on the corrupt religious hierarchy – the magisterium paralleling the Catholic Church – was all but eradicated to appease the church’s criticism. Diverging from the book, neither fans nor the vatican were pleased. Weitz, in trying to please all, had in turn pleased none. With a curt ending poised ready for a sequel, it seemed that one was expected.

For me, The Golden Compass will be remembered as a twenty year-old cliffhanger suspended like a pendulum, waiting patiently for a sequel to accompany it. Whilst being too brief to fully burrow yourself into its universe, The Golden Compass was where I first came across a female heroine of my age and for that I am thankful.

Featured image: Christo Drummkopf

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