The Golden Compass Film

August 30th, 2007

A long and interesting piece about some of the challenges to producing, filming and editing the film from Pullman’s novel is published in today’s New York Times Arts section.  A link to a trailer is also available on the article’s site.

 A couple of pulls follow:

 [ . . . . New Line, of course, reinvented fantasy with its “Lord of the Rings” series, directed by Peter Jackson. But each of those films cost far less than what is being spent on Mr. Weitz’s movie, the most expensive the studio has ever made. ]

[ With “The Golden Compass” much still hangs in the balance. Its filmmakers completed a four-month shoot in England, Switzerland and Norway last January, and Mr. Weitz screened a cut for top New Line executives in May.

But as recently as last month Mr. Weitz, who wrote the script’s current version, following earlier drafts by the playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard, was revising scenes that set up the movie’s complicated story about a girl’s struggle against repressive authority.

Mr. Weitz, speaking from London, said the latest changes were largely intended to bring clarity to a tale that depends on obscure elements, including a powerful cosmic substance known simply as “dust.” “Dust is kind of like our version of the force,” said Mr. Weitz, referring to a bit of “Star Wars” mythology. “But somehow the force is much easier to explain.” ]

[ The project’s extraordinary expense was due in large part to the business of the daemons, which had to be inserted in not just major set pieces but even simple dialogue scenes.

“It’s like directing that character,” Ms. Forte said of the myriad appearances by a snow leopard, jackal, ferret, mouse, ermine, chameleon, golden monkey, various birds and others, not to mention those non-daemonic armored bears. ]

Love, C.

3 Responses to “The Golden Compass Film”

  1. Daniel Woodson 31 Aug 2007 at 4:23 pm

    “Dust is kind of like our version of the force” – if there can be any Star Wars parallels whatsoever, I would’ve thought that dust is more like the meticlorines than the force itself (if anything).

    I’m worried about this project, I must admit. It’s heartening to hear that it’s been given a mahoosive budget, but if the script murders the original story (Eragon, anyone? No, before someone kills me, I am in no way claiming that Eragon and Pullman’s His Dark Materials are on the same literary level. But still…), all the big-name actors and expensive CGI in the world won’t make up for it. Then again, Eragon had awful cinematic direction going for it too, so maybe the Golden Compass won’t be so bad. There’s a point – I wonder if they’ll re-title it as ‘The Northern Lights’ when it hits the UK…

    Oh, also, ‘… [Philip Pullman] has publicly declared that his own books were intended to undermine Christian belief’ – he has? I thought he’d always said that ‘the Church’ in his books represented many things, and wasn’t just an attack on Christianity. In fact, I’m sure of it. I think he said it in that Pierce/Pullman/Paolini podcast he did, though I can’t find a transcript to check. But then, I didn’t look very hard ;).

    There’s my opinion, such as it is :p.

  2. Daniel Woodson 05 Dec 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Wow, this is going back a while.

    Anyone else seen the film, yet? I went to see it earlier today.

    … it’s pretty bad. If you’ve read the book(s), you will of course notice the bucketloads of things they’ve made up and missed out. If not, the film itself might be quite hard to follow, even despite the shameful amount of exposition.

    Slight spoiler: they’ve completely missed out the ending of the book (which, I guess, is why they couldn’t call it ‘The Northern Lights’, American titles aside).

    Anyway, I wasn’t impressed, mostly because the script was awful and it murders Pullman’s story. Anyone agree / disagree?

  3. Kate Elliotton 07 Dec 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the report, Daniel. It looks pretty in the trailers, but I am fearful that it just won’t work.

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