His Dark Materials and Darker Trends

I just wrote a fan letter to Philip Pullman. I’m a huge fan of his trilogy, His Dark Materials. Although Pullman refutes the notion that the trilogy is anti-religious, it is very critical of Catholicism in particular, depicting a sinister, misguided Church on a mission to kill an innocent little girl for “a higher good.”

On Pullman’s website, he talks about a movie in production. I’m very excited at the prospect, as I pictured Liam Neeson throughout as Lord Asriel. But when I went to the BBC story about Anand Tucker taking on the director’s helm for New Line’s production, I was deeply disturbed to read that the screenwriter, Chris Weitz, had “removed references to God and the church from the script, despite being dominant themes in the book.”

Dear New Line: But that’s the fucking point! The evil Church is the villian of the trilogy! How on the fucking earth can you write the same story and remove the religious characters and themes?

You disgust me.

This is a completely shameful and profoundly disturbing trend in films. Film companies are removing religious criticism from movies even when they are critical to the story. The DaVinci Code being directed by Ron Howard has been stripped of its harshest themes of the Catholic Church so as not to offend the either the church or its followers. What’s worse is Universal’s remake of The Wicker Man (which is now been nixed, says Christopher Lee) completely changed Sargeant Howie, taking away his unbending Christian beliefs and sensibilities. He’d become an Every Man fighting the “scary Pagans.”

Just what we need. More films that blame religions other than Christianity for all the evils in the world.

Howie’s self-righteousness and arrogance is what drives him deeper and deeper into terrible danger. If he believed in anything else, if any other dogma drove him, he would have probably acted differently — arguably even more sensibly. His deeply held Christian values are ultimately his undoing.

And that’s the point. The immovable wall meets the unstoppable force.

If Robin Hardy’s story is done any other way, it’s a different story and I’m not interested in it. I know they don’t care about me, the poor little fan girl who lives and breathes the damn movie. They never do.

But back to this self-censorship in films when it comes to religious criticism — particularly Christianity. This is the scariest trend I’ve seen, gutting stories of criticism to suck up to religious groups and not alienate the potential money they’d make from their followers. Well, any filmmaker who does this can kiss my fucking ass. God is a big boy. He and the Church can strap a self-righteous cup on their nuts and withstand our much-deserved boot kicks. This questioning of religion and authority what moves us forward as a culture, as humanity. In your compromises, you’ve lost many more viewers than you can possibly imagine.

I’m the first.

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