Pete Vonder Haar is in seclusion this week while he mourns the death of Evel Knievel. Luckily for us, his Aunt Leticia from Stephenville, TX has graciously decided to review The Golden Compass in his stead.
I used to love the Lord. I’d go to services at St. Crescentia’s every morning, sing in the choir, and volunteer at the mission on the weekend. But that’s all over and done with now; since my devotion to Jesus and love for my fellow man have been replaced with profound emptiness and contempt, and I have “The Golden Compass” to thank for it.
Now, even in my happier days I occasionally found myself at a little “down in the dumps” spiritually. This happened again quite recently following the untimely passing of “JonBenet,” my precious little Bichon Frisé, and prompted me to think about the usual Big Questions. For instance: why would a loving God continue to extinguish our brightest stars, like Tammy Bakker and Jack Valenti? And how did He expect us to persevere in the face of unrelenting injustices like the crisis in Darfur or denying Marie Osmond a “Dancing With the Stars” title so soon after calling her daddy to heaven (or the Mormon version of it, at least)?
Well sir, I decided I needed a lil’ ole break, so I hopped the #47 downtown to a screening of “The Golden Compass.” It sounded like a harmless enough movie (I didn’t know it was based on something called His Dark Materials, which for some reason never appeared on the church’s Book Nook reading list), and one that might offer me a respite from my earthly concerns. After all, it was supposed to take place in some zany world where crazy, unheard of things – like people flying in balloons and governments stifling scientific inquiry – happen. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong, and my search for light-hearted entertainment had been replaced with a sneak attack upon the actual foundations of my faith.
You’re thrown a lot of info about this world right off the bat. For instance, the souls of its inhabitants were housed in animal companions called – are you ready for this – “demons.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was taught by my Mama and my pastor that demons are bad things, and not what you want taking a stroll with you to the Waffle House. Also, the main character of the movie was a girl named Lyra Baklava (Dakota Blue Richards) or some such, who spent the whole movie sass-talking her elders and consorting with questionable characters. Hardly what you’d call a decent role model for proper young ladies.
And it goes downhill from there. I was happy to see that pleasant-looking Craig Daniels fellow as Lyra’s uncle, Lord “Israel” (who believes there are other worlds out there besides his own), but did the former Mrs. Tom Cruise really have to play the villainous Mrs. Couture? She was always so fashionably dressed, and her hair was just so, it seems a shame to suggest bad people can look just as attractive as we god-fearing folks.
At the very least the director could have made her a brunette, like the honest-to-goodness “witches(!)” who are on the side of Lyra and the others who are out to free the children kidnapped by the somehow familiar Magisterium.
And not only did those so-called “demons” take the form of animals, but they actually talked! And the worst of these wasn’t a demon at all, but an alcoholic polar bear Lyra befriends named “Yorick,” who it turns out was played by an actor named Ian McKellen who – I just recently learned on the Internets – is a homosexual.
It was all too much…when did movie studios start giving honest work to Sodomites? Whatever happened to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when nice, clean-cut young men like James Dean, Tab Hunter, and Rock Hudson graced the silver screen with their inoffensive, manly presences? When did we as a society decide it was all right to allow young girls to think and act for themselves without the stern and guiding hand of a parent or clergyman present?
This was more than I could bear. I tried to leave the theater, but I could feel my very faith in Jesus withering and dying under this constant onslaught of sky cowboys and hat-wearing bears. Too late I realized how much damage Pullman and his handful of moderately popular fantasy novels has done to our ancient and established belief in an omnipotent Supreme Being. No wonder the good people at Focus on the Family have urged us to boycott “The Golden Compass,” for if the utter destruction of my own beliefs is any indication, then it is clearly a bigger threat to Christianity than Communism, Islamic fundamentalism, and the Catholic Church’s continued denials of institutional child molestation combined.
For family entertainment, I’ll stick with Rock Hudson, thank you very much.
Pete will be back with new reviews next week. Unless Mr. T dies.