The Golden Compass is a fantasy film based upon Northern Lights (also known as The Golden Compass), the first novel in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, and was released on December 5, 2007 by New Line Cinema. The project was announced in February 2002, following the success of other recent adaptations of fantasy epics, and at $180 million is one of New Line's biggest-budget projects ever after a series of box office disappointments preceding the release.
The story concerns Lyra, an orphan living in a fantastical parallel universe in which the dogmatic dictatorship of the Magisterium threatens to dominate the world. When Lyra's friend is kidnapped, she travels to the far North in an attempt to rescue him and rejoin her uncle.
Before its release, the film received criticism from secular organizations and fans of His Dark Materials for the dilution of the religious elements from the novels, as well as from some religious organizations for its perceived anti-Catholic and atheistic themes. The film was met with mixed reviews, and has thus far failed to meet expectations at the U.S. box office, despite performing well internationally.
Lyra Belacqua (Richards) is a young orphan girl who lives in a parallel universe in which a person's soul resides outside the body in the form of an animal called a "dæmon." The land is controlled by the Magisterium, an authoritarian organization that restricts freedoms in order to impose its own systems of belief upon the populace. A ward of Jordan College, Lyra spends her free time with the local children and her best friend, Roger (Walker). Lyra and the others tell of the "Gobblers," who they hold responsible for the disappearance of several local children.
When Lyra's uncle, Lord Asriel (Craig), visits the college, Lyra saves him from assassination at the hands of a Magisterial representative, who wants to prevent Asriel from presenting evidence to the college which indicates the existence of particles called "Dust," in opposition to official Magisterium doctrine. Asriel obtains funding from the college to mount an expedition to the far north in order to investigate the substance, which he believes originates in a parallel universe to his own, entering the body via a person's dæmon. Fearing the effects of Dust, the Magisterium is conducting experiments on children in order to find a means of inoculating them against it.
After Asriel departs, the college is visited by Mrs. Coulter (Kidman), who offers to take Lyra north as her assistant. Lyra assents and, before she leaves, is entrusted with an alethiometer by the master of the college. The last remaining since the Magisterium forbade their use, the alethiometer is a device that is able to reveal the answer to any question asked it by a trained user. While unable to operate it, Lyra accepts the gift and takes it with her to Mrs. Coulter's home. When Mrs. Coulter arouses Lyra's suspicions by delaying their journey, Lyra discovers that Mrs. Coulter is head of the General Oblation Board – the "Gobblers" who have been kidnapping children, and that Roger and her Gyptian friend Billy Costa (Rowe) have been taken by this group to the north. Mrs. Coulter learns of Lyra's possession of the alethiometer, but Lyra escapes.
The "Gobblers" pursue her, but she is saved by the Gyptians, a nomadic boat people, who are planning to travel north by sea in order to rescue the kidnapped children, many Gyptians amongst them. Lyra travels with them and comes to an understanding of the alethiometer's use with the aid of a Gyptian and Serafina Pekkala (Green), the queen of a witch clan who appears during the journey. At a Norwegian port, Lyra befriends aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Elliot), who advises her to hire Iorek Byrnison (McKellen), an exiled prince of a race of armoured polar bears, who is employed as a metalworker in the port after being tricked by the local townspeople and his armour (which houses his soul) stolen. Lyra uses the alethiometer to discover the armour's location, which Iorek recovers. He pledges his service to Lyra's cause, while Scoresby is hired by the Gyptians to aid them on the trek north.
The alethiometer guides Lyra to Billy Costa, who has escaped from a Magisterium research station. Finding him dazed and without his dæmon, she returns him to the Gyptians. The group is attacked by a tribe of Samoyeds and Lyra is captured. Taken to the king of the armoured bears (McShane), Lyra tricks him into fighting Iorek for the throne. Iorek wins the fight and becomes king. Iorek carries Lyra to the Magisterium research station at Bolvangar, but the two are separated by the collapse of an ice bridge. Pretending to be lost, Lyra is welcomed into Bolvangar by the Magisterium scientists and locates Roger, instructing him to have the other kidnapped children prepared for escape. Lyra eavesdrops on a group of scientists talking with Mrs. Coulter about the experiments they do on the children, discovering that they attempt to prevent Dust from entering a child by severing the bond to his or her dæmon. Discovered by the scientists after Mrs. Coulter departs, she is taken to a room where the scientists intend to perform the procedure on Lyra. At the last moment before it is completed, Mrs. Coulter intervenes, taking Lyra to her rooms.
Mrs. Coulter explains that the procedure is to prevent the flow of Dust into the child when he or she enters puberty, saying that the Dust causes bad thoughts as children near maturity. She also tells Lyra that she is her mother, and Lord Asriel her father. Lyra learns that Asriel is engaged in his research further north and that assassins have been sent to kill him. When Mrs. Coulter asks for the alethiometer, Lyra incapacitates her and escapes. Lyra destroys the severing apparatus, leading to a series of explosions, which begins to tear down the facility, and she leads the children outside. Magesterial Tartars block their escape, but a battle ensues when Iorek, the Gyptians, a band of witches and Scoresby arrive. The guards are defeated and the children are rescued.
Instead of travelling back south with the Gyptians and the rescued children, Lyra and Roger choose to travel north with Lee Scoresby, Iorek Byrnison and Serafina Pekkala to find Lord Asriel.
REAL VS. REPRESENTATIVE ELEMENTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE FILM
- The Golden Compass is a film for the young adolescent. There are many fantasy and magical elements in the movie that we can relate to corresponding real world aspects of higher human consciousness, or the spiritual life.
- We can call the fantastical elements portrayed in the film "training wheels of the spirit or higher life". Some elements are more than fantastical -- they are real, reflecting higher consciousness in life - like pursuit of truth, a life of continuous Adventure, thinking for one's self (individuality), psychological strength and courage, heroism, concern for others, justice, etc.
- Let's consider some of the elements and see if each is an actual/real example of the higher consciousness life, or representative of it (i.e. a training wheel, fantasy aspect).
- Daemon -- The Daemon is the animal who represents the soul for the individual. The individual’s soul is externalized. From spiritual experience of individuals down through the ages, we know that we have a soul. (Some say there are two aspects of the soul -- the original spark of the Divine, as well as an Evolving Soul, aka the True Self.) The Deamon animal is a representative element of soul, for the youngster to relate to. The Daemon element is obviously not real in our world, but is a close facsimile as training wheels for youngsters who later can have such real experiences of their own inner being and soul.
- Dust -- Dust is another representation in the film of the (real) Spirit in life. The dust is the force that enables interdimensionality in the film. Spirit permeates the universe in our world, and connects us; our world to the Divine reality; in fact all realities.
- Daemon + Dust -- The Daemon and the Dust are made to work together. The dust (that represents Spirit) enters the individual not directly, but through the Daemon animal (soul). This is equivalent in real life of our first connecting with our own souls to experience the our True Self and through it the transcendent Divine reality – i.e. the Spirit. Thus, the daemon and dust together is a facsimile representative of something true in our own lives.
- Truth -- Lyra's pursuit of Truth is not something representative, but is real, in both her world and ours. When we seek Truth, we are searching for and discovering the true nature and essence of reality. Sri Aurobindo calls Truth the "objective state of Existence." It is the facts of everything that exists, whether material or not, and pursuing that ultimate understanding is spiritual in nature since it gives us the ultimate, integral view of existence. Truth in the film, is thus not representative, but real.
- Life of Adventure -- Lyra also lives a full life of ultimate adventure. Living such a life is spiritual in the sense that we are exploring the infinite possibilities of existence. A life of perpetual adventure is a spiritual quality in since we are opening to the infinite potentials of life. Life of adventure is thus a real element in the story, not merely representative for the adolescent.
- The True Individual -- Lyra thinks for herself. She is her own person. She seeks truth, and makes decisions through a fierce independence, not following the influence and opinions of the herd. This is a spiritual-like quality as well. A person like this in real life is called a "True Individual." (If that person garners knowledge through soul connection, then that individual is a True Spiritual Individual.) Lyra is close to a True Individual. It is a real aspect realized by her in the film reflecting that same type of person in real life.
- Integral Knowledge -- The compass itself is a symbol, a representation of both Truth and Knowledge. The higher life, the Spirit comes to us as Oneness, Delight, Beauty, Love, Infinity, Timelessness, etc. It also comes as Knowledge. I.e. we can know a thing in its fullness, its integrity, in its various dimensions. The compass is like an oracle that explains the past, indicates the present, and presages the future. When we have true integral Knowledge of any object of inquiry or matter, we not only know the truth from many angles, including all the Parts as well as the Whole and the Essence, but we also have a direct link to the fullness of knowledge of the past, present, and future. It is an unbroken continuous stream of existence in time that we can perceive through our higher consciousness. It is a spiritual capacity that enables us to know the three time periods as one continuous flow in the Eternal Now. The compass is not real, but a representative of this human spiritual capacity.
- Life Response -- Throughout the film, we can see instances of sudden good fortune -- i.e. life response. It is for us to see the qualities of inner behavior that elicit such miraculous-like results in the film. All such creative arts of the word portray life response, as the author subconsciously expresses the subtle ways life unfolds. It is done with sudden dramatic turns in the plot line. Life response incidents occur throughout the film, just as they happen in our own lives. Thus, life response is a real element in the film.
--Roy 23:38, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
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