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This Week's Review: "The Golden Compass"

I received the following email about six weeks ago from a friend who knows that I review motion pictures. The text had been forwarded several times so I knew immediately that the content did not originate with her. Important! Please read. You may already know about this, but I just learned about a kids movie coming out in December starring Nicole Kidman. It's called The Golden Compass, and while it will be a watered down version, it is based on a series of children's books about killing God (it is the anti-Narnia). From what I understand, the hope is to get a lot of kids to see the movie - which won't seem too bad - and then get the parents to buy the books for their kids for Christmas. Our youth are being attacked. I'm going to tell everyone about this movie. I hope it totally bombs because we were all paying attention! Obviously my attention was piqued. I had seen previews for The Golden Compass, but knew little about it. After some Internet searching, I discovered that the movie was based on a novel by Philip Pullman, an avowed atheist who had written a trilogy of books with obvious criticisms toward organized religion. But was this film an actual attempt at destroying religion around the globe? Could Hollywood be up to something so deviant that the future of the world could be at risk? Were atheists now organizing en masse, forming a new threat to the religious fabric of America? Should I run to the nearest bell tower and scream that the sky is falling? Apparently certain religious groups around the country had indeed organized an all-out mud-slinging campaign against The Golden Compass. The email I received had made its way around the world several times over (I found it in my inbox three more times before the film was released). With a little more research, I discovered that numerous religious groups had put the destruction of The Golden Compass at the top of their social agenda. Wow! I dont know about you, but I couldnt wait to get to the theater to see this one. The idea of seeing children brainwashed before my eyes was strangely enticing. I didnt realize that it was so easy to lead young minds astray. So, on opening night I headed to the Movieplex (apparently the email hadnt infiltrated our area too deeply because the theater was brimming with activity). I took note of the large number of children and prepared myself for the barbaric mental conversion that was about to ensue. Two hours later, a slew of children filtered out of the theater looking relatively normal. Most of the conversations I overheard revolved around the awesome or way cool special effects. Not one child displayed a zombie-like trance or looked ready to argue about the ills of organized religion. Apparently the conversion process was incomplete and would require further prompting through book sales. For the uninitiated, The Golden Compass is the story of a young girl who possesses a small device that enables her to see the truth. By using the powers of the compass, she embarks on a long journey to find her kidnapped friends. On the way she meets several interesting characters that agree to help her on her quest (sort of like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz). Had I not received the email warning, Im fairly confident that I would have barely noticed the subtle religious overtones. And even if I had recognized something, I would have found them too vague to be considered dangerous to any reputable religious organization. In the end, The Golden Compass is a fairly involved story that fits somewhere between The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. By all means, if your child is of a mature age and wants to see this film, let them. And if they ask to read the book afterwards, buy it for them (reading is never bad). And if youre worried that their minds are being corrupted, sit down and talk to them. After all, parents are supposed to give guidance and advice, not suppress information. An otherworldly B for The Golden Compass. Cant decide what to watch?
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