20 Dec 2007
Golden Compass: Anti-Narnia
Well as I said went to see the Golden Compass with my kids last saturday and I can't say it was the best thing we have ever seen, Beowulf was better for a start and I think post The Lord of the Rings trilogy you can have enough vaguely mythic entertainment.
Still good fun and a nice treat to take children too. I guess the main political message is its comment on 'gyptians' whose boat yard was modelled on the Jehrico boat yard which is under threat so that developers can build luxury blocks of flats on it....enclosure, enclosure, enclosure, the walls go up at their command, as usual. At least Philip Pullman the author of 'Northern Lights' from which the Golden Compass is adapted has been protesting about this issue.
Is it anti-religious? If religion is defined as the practice of hierarichal organisations who will surpress science to maintain their rule, well then yes. And the obvious target of this Richard Dawkins style childrens' epic, a kind of anti-narnia, is the Papacy.
It is wider than this and is tale of opposition to all forms of unthinking imperialist and manipulative power structures, ones that lie and silence opponents who proclaim the truth...and we all come across some of those.
I think to say it is a rationalist film, given all the monkeying around with daemons, magical polar beers and fairy dust, might be putting it a little strong.
The film contains strong female role models, other than Nicole Kidman seems to be evil!
For me religion is not automatically 'bad' but to really mean something (to me at least) it has to be based on a strong foundation of doubt.
Doubt everything said my two favourite prophets here and here.
Anyway popular culture is always political, always about reproducing or challenging common sense, that used by kids especially so.
Here are Philip Pullman's words on the boat yard:
I`ve also been involved in the fight to save a boatyard on the Oxford Canal, in that part of the city called Jericho. The people involved asked me to help because of the gyptians in His Dark Materials. There`s been a boatyard on that site for over a hundred years, but the site itself belongs to a body called British Waterways. They sold it to a developer who wants to put up houses on it. Oxford City Council refused planning permission for this development, because (among other things) they recognised the need for the boatyard to continue; and the developer, Bellway Homes, appealed against their decision. So this week there`s been an inquiry at Oxford Town Hall, with high-powered lawyers for both the City Council and Bellway Homes putting their case and cross-examining witnesses.
It seemed to me and some others that the case for the boatyard itself was being lost along all the other arguments, so I wanted to help. The point is simple: this boatyard is the only place for many miles around where narrow boats can be lifted out of the water for repairs and maintenance. They need to have this done every four years or so in order to be certified as fit for use. In Oxford there are 120 or so residential boats, so there`s more than enough work to keep the boatyard in business. British Waterways and Bellway Homes deny that this lifting-out facility is needed, and say that if they provide a few limited amenities on the site, it will be enough - but it won`t. The 120 people and their families who currently live on the water will either have to sell their boats and find somewhere ashore, or move somewhere else; so for the sake of 46 new homes, the planned scheme will destroy 120. It doesn`t make any kind of sense.
What is sense in economic terms is often sadly nonsense in human terms!
COUNCILLORS THROW OUR BOATYARD PLAN...found this from my friend and Green Party councillor Sushila.
Describing the proposed four-storey buildings as "absolutely hideous", councillor Sushila Dhall said: "They are completely out of keeping with anything that's ever been there." from here