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The Golden Compass

I went to see The Golden Compass last week – the film of the book with the same name (although sometimes called Northern Lights). I mentioned the trailer before, and though tit looked great, but wasn’t sure what to expect of the movie itself.

The Golden Compass

I read the book some time ago so remember the story in broad sweeps but don’t remember the specifics – thankfully the film was laid out in a similar fashion. A quick discussion with my friends afterwards (who have re-read the books recently) tells me that basically they took the story and abbreviated things considerably. From my own memory I am sure the time in Bolvangar took place over several days (weeks? months?) where in the film it’s squashed into about ten minutes.

Of course edits and abbreviations are necessary for pretty much all book to film translations. Thankfully The Golden Compass is more Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter than, well, any of the Bourne movies for example.

The Golden Compass cast great – I love all these recent movies that have been casting English actors as English people, rather than casting Americans with dodgy accents (I’ll gloss over Nicole Kidman for now πŸ™‚ ). I think a lot of this stems from the fact that many of the best Fantasy stories are English (or European) in origin – if not by author then in the basis of the setting. Medieval English history is a perfect background for much of the epic fantasy that goes around so it stands to reason that English actors would be the best for these roles… and fantasy seems to be having quite a resurgence in recent years… so bring it on!

One of big surprises of The Golden Compass book comes right at the end of the story (the last three chapters) but these are left off in the film, possibly being moved to a sequel… if one should ever be made. From what I remember these 3 chapters have a lot more weight in their original stories than they will in the film since the role of Roger is smaller than I remember.

The scenery and special effects are all wonderful to simply stare at, and the story is remarkably faithful. Naturally it all moves at a pretty swift pace as there’s a lot to pack in.

I thought that Dakota Blue Richards was very good as Lyra Belacqua giving her just the right tomboy-ish attitude whilst still making her likeable.

My favourite part of the movie has to be the daemons. They’ve been integrated really well and Pantalaimon, with his shape changing abilities, makes me wish I could have one (If I had a choice I’d have Pan in snow-white ermine form). The polar bears are also worth a quick mention. Iorek Byrnison is voiced by Ian McKellen – one of my favourite actors, and the polar bear fight is pretty ferocious – one of the highlights of the film.

Personally I would like to see the trilogy completed, but then I don’t like to see things like this left open. I want to see the entire thing realised.

Ben View All

Ben is a lifelong Nintendo fan who also likes to build websites, and develop games. He also buys way too much Lego.

13 thoughts on “The Golden Compass Leave a comment

  1. I really enjoyed it but felt it moved too fast. It got a bit choppy towards the middle-end as I could see they were trying to squish the last half of the book in the last half hour.

    The worse thing would have been bad acting and poor production values. I would even venture to say TGC had higher production values than Narnia.

    Dakota was just plain awesome. She really played the character well. OMG, the gay (drag queen?) captain was HILARIOUS!

    I can’t wait for the sequel. I need something to fill my Harry Potter void.

    and BTW. I love you, Happy New Year.

  2. Very good movie πŸ™‚ Although if i read the book, maybe it’ll become a good movie without ‘very’ πŸ˜› or even BAD

    The BAD example would be ERAGON, i was VERY DISSAPOINTED ! The movie is goin WAY TOO FAR from the original storyline ! Really really bad ! I mean the main storyline itself. If it just a little bit and there, then it’s fine, all movies adapted from books are like that, just like you say ‘abbreviated things considerably, squashed etc.’ but the main storyline should be the same, that’s the point of an adapted movie right ?

    But ERAGON is the WORST adapted movie ever ! Oh, well, enough rant πŸ˜›

    Anyway, the Dæmon is indeed marvelous, it looked so real that my gf can’t believe it’s cg πŸ˜› she thought it’s animal being trained and then lip-synced πŸ˜›

    Oh, btw, take this test if you like πŸ™‚
    What’s Your Dæmon ?

    And Happy New Year to you too.

    May this year be splendid ^^

  3. Thanks for this! I’ve heard some rather unenthusiastic reviews and was getting a bit worried that it would be disappointing (not that I tend to agree with critics ever really) so it’s nice to hear good news from folks a bit more familiar with the story than I am. I’m still only halfway through the first book sadly.

    We’re going out to the movies tomorrow too, so this was rather timely. πŸ™‚

  4. I’m wondering if you’ve seen Stardust (from Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name)? I suppose he follows along with your theory that the good fantasy stories come out of the UK.

  5. Long – thanks mate. Happy New year to you too πŸ™‚

    qureyoon – If you enjoy the film then the book won’t disappoint at all. It’s essentially more of the same, with a lot of extra detail added.

    Jenny – I hope you enjoy it. I’d certainly recommend finishing the book first if you can.

    Danny – thanks for the correction πŸ™‚

    Chris – I have indeed seen Stardust πŸ˜‰

  6. Yes, I agree… the daemons were adorable — they were really one of the most attractive features of the movie. And I was really disappointed that the last several chapters were left out, since the most climactic events occur in the ending… including Lyra entering the other world in the sky…

    I did think the script was awful, however. Did you catch the part where Lyra tries to get Iorek to take her to see the “ghost” by the lake, and Iorek asks her, “Do you wish to ride me?” The whole theater burst into laughter at that moment. Geesh, don’t the screenwriters know any better??

    Correction: L.T., have you even read the book? The “drag queen” that you so carelessly refer to is the king of the gyptians, Lord Faa. If you haven’t caught on, the eyeliner thing is a gyptian fashion. He is NOT gay.

  7. Nobody laughed when I saw it, but I do remember the bit you mean and seem to recall thinking it was a little off. I’ve read lots of reviews that have said the script was awful so I went in expecting it to be terrible, but for this sort of film I thought it was more than adequate.

  8. hey Binary Moon, i didntsee that movie, anyway my ques 4u is something else. I have a blog or something – http://razzo.wordpress.com/ – and this site is regulated by… you Binary moon. Im so affraid hehe so tell me R u the person who see everything about me and allow the diffusion ? well i hope u know something and wait 4 ur answer ok, ciao.

  9. Razzo – Hi.

    I think you’re a little confused, I don’t regulate anything to do with your website. What you have done is chosen a theme that I designed. That is all. I can see nothing about you.

    Glad you like the theme though

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