Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Just don't kill God

I was pleased to hear that someone was making Phillip Pullman's remarkable trilogy, His Dark Materials, into a film.

Now comes the word (via Pandagon) that the film version is going to omit all references to God -- which would be like doing The Lord of the Rings without any reference to Sauron.

The reason? They don't want to offend AmeriBush's delicate religious sensibilities:
Chris Weitz, director of About a Boy, said the changes were being made after film studio New Line expressed concern.

The books tell of a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God.

"They have expressed worry about the possibility of perceived anti-religiosity," Weitz told a His Dark Materials fans' website.

The story goes on to explain that New Line feared that staying true to the text would render the film "unviable financially." Right. Just like the books, which have sold several million copies.

Pullman, it seems, is working around this:
Weitz said he had visited Pullman, who had told him that the Authority could "represent any arbitrary establishment that curtails the freedom of the individual, whether it be religious, political, totalitarian, fundamentalist, communist, what have you".

He added: "I have no desire to change the nature or intentions of the villains of the piece, but they may appear in more subtle guises."

There are a number of Christian websites which attack the trilogy for their depiction of the church and of God, but Pullman has denied his books are anti-religious.

His agent told the Times newspaper that Pullman was happy with the adaptation so far.

"Of course New Line want to make money, but Mr Weitz is a wonderful director and Philip is very supportive.

"You have to recognise that it is a challenge in the climate of Bush's America."

Now, humanities have never been the strong suit of these alleged "Christians" who despise Pullman's books, so it's very likely that none of these people have ever heard of Milton and Blake. But they are the literary lions on whom Pullman bases much of his work. His cosmology in particular, and his depiction of God, is drawn directly from theirs.

But then, it doesn't take much reflection to see that, in the view of fundamentalists, such Christian mysticism is indeed a kind of blasphemy.

So how long will it be before the folks with pitchforks and torches start demanding that school libraries remove Paradise Lost and Songs of Innocence and Experience?

I suppose it helps that no one is making a movie out of them ...

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