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Author Topic: His Dark Materials
oldgoat
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posted 21 February 2007 08:27 AM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So anyone here ever read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman?

Hadn't heard of it before, and my kid recently introduced me to the books.

If you haven't read the trilogy, do so.

.
.
.

Right now.
.
.

Then we can talk about the movie they're making.


From: The 10th circle | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Erstwhile
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posted 21 February 2007 08:35 AM      Profile for Erstwhile     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I enjoyed the first book, started to roll my eyes a lot during the second, and actively disliked the third.

I was surprised that he didn't have church officials actually twirling their moustaches and tying women to railroad tracks while cackling "nyah-hah-hah!"

I mean, hell, I'm a secular humanist, and by the end of the third book even I was saying, "yes, yes, Phillip, religion sucks. I get it."


From: Deepest Darkest Saskabush | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 21 February 2007 08:36 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Erstwhile:
I was surprised that he didn't have church officials actually twirling their moustaches and tying women to railroad tracks while cackling "nyah-hah-hah!"

You means is soft core fetish erotica?


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 21 February 2007 08:44 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Erstwhile:
I was surprised that he didn't have church officials actually twirling their moustaches and tying women to railroad tracks while cackling "nyah-hah-hah!"

And then Jones could come along...


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 21 February 2007 09:09 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Just that? A name? Not a desciption of what this "Jones" might look like. Say, "...leather pants and a studded belt, a black silk shirt, open at the collar, his tanned and muscular arms exposed beneath cut off of its short sleeves." You can do better, I am sure, Michelle.
From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Erstwhile
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posted 21 February 2007 09:19 AM      Profile for Erstwhile     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:

You means is soft core fetish erotica?


Er...that wasn't quite the reference I was going for...except with perhaps by the loosest of definitions...


From: Deepest Darkest Saskabush | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 21 February 2007 09:23 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Nothing like this?


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
oldgoat
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posted 21 February 2007 12:20 PM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well this thread sure went to hell faster than most. (kinda like all you guys are gonna)

Anyway, maybe they'll cast these people in the movie...


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Michelle
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posted 21 February 2007 12:31 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
Just that? A name? Not a desciption of what this "Jones" might look like. Say, "...leather pants and a studded belt, a black silk shirt, open at the collar, his tanned and muscular arms exposed beneath cut off of its short sleeves." You can do better, I am sure, Michelle.

Well, from what I've heard, he was tall, thin, slow-walking, slow-talking, long, lean, and lanky.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
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posted 21 February 2007 12:50 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Erstwhile, I agree that Pullman's critique of organized Christianity is way over the top, and it detracts from the story. He's like Richard Dawkins ... ON STEROIDS. And at least Dawkins isn't trying to write novels.

The "OMG CHRISTIANITY IS EVIL!!!111!1!!" trap is one that I've seen other good writers fall into, like John Wyndham -- it leads to the dissonant effect that a generally decent novel like The Chrysalids occasionally descends into ranting and foaming at the mouth.

Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz is a much more thorough treatment of religion in a speculative-fiction context. Miller was a practising Catholic, but sufficiently critical of his own faith and church, as well as of the fusion of technocracy and militarism that fuelled the nuclear arms race.

But getting back to the Dark Materials trilogy: when Pullman isn't immediately focused on the Church, or carried away with soap-operatic cliffhangers, Big Revelations and dramatic death scenes, he can be quite lucid and engaging.

He's more thoughtful and imaginative on the topics of science / technology (he doesn't just treat it as a plot device, but writes true science fiction in the sense of being interested in writing about science in a speculative context), and on the psychological effects of violence upon its victims and perpetrators.

The characterization becomes better as the books go along, in my opinion, even though the plot builds to a chaotic din at the same time.

I think they already did the trilogy as a BBC radio drama. Heard recently about the movie. I can't imagine how they could adapt the books in a way that doesn't end up emphasizing their weaker qualities. I assume they're just adapting one book per film?

[ 21 February 2007: Message edited by: obscurantist ]


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 21 February 2007 03:01 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that my recent chat with some goatlings caused this to happen.
From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
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posted 21 February 2007 03:03 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Erstwhile
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posted 22 February 2007 10:20 AM      Profile for Erstwhile     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, Jones is good and all, but when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody's gonna jump for joy. Or so I am given to understand.
From: Deepest Darkest Saskabush | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
oldgoat
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posted 23 February 2007 08:12 AM      Profile for oldgoat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Papal Bull:
I think that my recent chat with some goatlings caused this to happen.

So that was you, huh? Do the Basilians know you're reading such inflammatory stuff?

Anyway,

here's some stuff on the movie.

The goatling P_B refers to told me the book was a concious reaction on the part of Pullman to the excessive religiosity in The Chronicals of Narnia and was written to sort of counter Lewis' work. What surprised me a bit when I went to the library for the second book, was that it was under children's literature. I can sort of see it, but it's pretty dark.


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obscurantist
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posted 23 February 2007 03:43 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oldgoat, you'd be surprised at the range of what you can find in the libraries and bookstores under the category of childrens' literature. The Pullman trilogy may well take a prize for being controversial in as many ways as it possibly can, but I'd say it's far from the most disturbing subject matter available for kids to read.

(Or did you mean childrens' literature as opposed to young-adult? I suppose different places may have different criteria for what goes where, if they have both sections.)

It's not quite on the same level, but there's been a lot of controversy recently over a Newbery-Medal-winning book that features the word "scrotum" on the first page. The book itself and the context in which the word is used are innocent enough to make the resulting uproar seem a bit ridiculous. Although I can't help suspecting that maybe the author intended to court such a response to generate publicity.


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angrymonkey
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posted 23 February 2007 03:44 PM      Profile for angrymonkey     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Chris Weitz will be directing the first film in the trilogy. His previous films include American Pie and About A Boy."
Hmph. I was hoping it was terry gilliam - i got the books when he mentioned them in that lost in la mancha movie

From: the cold | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Brian White
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posted 06 December 2007 11:50 PM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I saw the movie sunday. Excellent movie with superb acting from the little girl. So good that i thought at any moment they would go into the future where she would be played by Cate Blanchet.
They say the movie is toned down.
I find it amusing that the movie has spurred organizations to behave like a magisterium in this alternative universe.
Life imitates art because of art?
The perception becomes the reality?

quote:
Originally posted by angrymonkey:
"Chris Weitz will be directing the first film in the trilogy. His previous films include American Pie and About A Boy."
Hmph. I was hoping it was terry gilliam - i got the books when he mentioned them in that lost in la mancha movie


From: Victoria Bc | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 09 December 2007 07:44 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I went to see the Golden Compass tonight. It wasn't bad, but it was also disapointing. In order to do the book justice, it really needed to be three hours long and written by Tom Stoppard. Why the makers of the project decided to cram Pullman's epic story into film that's only an hour and a half long, I don't know.

[ 09 December 2007: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]

[ 09 December 2007: Message edited by: CMOT Dibbler ]


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Nanuq
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posted 09 December 2007 09:07 PM      Profile for Nanuq   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Why the makers of the project decided to cram Pullman's epic story into film that's only an hour and a half long, I don't know.

Unless the novelist has enough clout to keep it from happening (think J.K. Rowling), movie adaptations of popular novels usually end up that way. Producers are only interested in making movies that people will want to see. Being faithful to the author's work tends not to be a priority.


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CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 December 2007 09:09 AM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The problem with Pullman's work is that it's based on ideas instead of combat. Epic battles featuring hordes of orcs can be easily translated onto the big screen, long dicussions about the nature of creation can't be. Because the kind of philosophy put forward by His Dark Materials dosen't lend itself to huge fight scenes or big explosions, the film's creators had to drain almost all of the intellectual content out of the film adaptation.
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CMOT Dibbler
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posted 10 December 2007 09:47 AM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually scratch that. There wasn't really tonnes of intellectual content in the Golden Compass, (most of the discussions about life, the universe and everything occur in The Sutble Knife and The Amber Spyglass) but even so, I think that the film was lacking in depth.
From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
DonnyBGood
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posted 11 December 2007 03:24 PM      Profile for DonnyBGood     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There is something very liberating about the work of the Inklings. They believe in an afterlife. They believe that this justifies sacrifice for the better life here on earth. They believe in struggling against evil and injustice.

It hardly matters if the characters are dressed in shadow or priestly robes. Evil is evil and must be vanquished.

Additionally, they argue against the brute materialism of the modern world. They abhor the destruction of the environment, the artificial values that are manufactured by the modern marketing machinery. They evoke some primordial human relationship with existence, etc., etc.

They also engage the notion that there are vast secret intelligences operating on multidimensional planes and that these intelligences are what we might characterize as both good and bad.

In all this discussion this powerful fiction - for that is what I believe it is - there is a purpose. That purpose seems to be to liberate humankind from the material sufferings of the world.

Simply pulling the abbot's beard or pointing out the folly of religion doesn't really engage the beauty, indeed majesty, of the poetry of religious feeling.

Sure a lot of religious zeal is over the top and in the end I suppose you might argue that the Inklings did not succeed in their purpose in making faith real and grounded in day to day life in the modern world.

But Dawkins is unconvincing. There may be no objective evidence of God but are there no examples of wondrous works inspired by this mythical being? Is Handel's Messiah less moving because there is no real antecedent of his inspiration?

And as Tolkien points out, is myth less of itself because it is myth? Why does it exist at all and why is it so enjoyable?

[ 12 December 2007: Message edited by: DonnyBGood ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
CMOT Dibbler
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posted 11 December 2007 04:53 PM      Profile for CMOT Dibbler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
There is something very liberating about the work of the Inklings.

Who are the Inklings?


From: Just outside Fernie, British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
DonnyBGood
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posted 12 December 2007 02:04 AM      Profile for DonnyBGood     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks for asking. As usual in locating this source I learned something new.

quote:
The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction, and encouraged the writing of fantasy. Although Christian values were notably reflected in several members' work, there were also atheists among the members of the discussion group.

"Properly speaking," wrote Warren Lewis, "the Inklings was neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections."

As was typical for university literary groups in their time and place, the Inklings were all male. (Dorothy L. Sayers, sometimes claimed as an Inkling, was a friend of Lewis and Williams, but never attended Inklings meetings.)

Readings and discussions of the members' unfinished works were the principal purposes of meetings. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, and Williams's All Hallows' Eve were among the novels first read to the Inklings. Tolkien's fictional Notion Club (see Sauron Defeated) was based on the Inklings.



From: Toronto | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged

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