Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thanks to Sam Elliot . . . Not

Posted by Webster
Ordinarily I bow to any article that gets top-headline treatment at New Advent’s daily Catholic news summary. (Full disclosure: NA has been supportive of this blog, thank you.) But today's headline was—what?—over the top? “Actor Blames Catholic Church for lack of Golden Compass sequels.” Poor Sam Elliot! Could it be Sam’s out of work and has reached for the nearest, oldest scapegoat on earth?

Sam, wake up! You didn't even have that big a role!

And Sam, now that you're awake, check out the facts! The problem was not with the publicity, generated not only by the Catholic Church but by lukewarm reviews, like this one or this one or this one. The problem was mismanagement, as reported by Wiki:

The project was announced in February 2002, following the success of recent adaptations of other fantasy epics, but troubles over the script and the selection of a director caused significant delays. At US $180 million, it was one of New Line Cinema's most expensive projects ever, and its middling success in the US contributed to New Line's February 2008 restructuring.

One more thing, Sam: As you note, some Catholics took umbrage at author Phillip Pullman's use of the term magisterium to mean an evil bureaucracy. Fine. Big deal. Personal witness of a Catholic coming at you now, Sam—

Before either of them was ten years old, I read the entire Dark Materials trilogy aloud to each of my daughters (Golden Compass being the first book in the trilogy). I subsequently became a Catholic, and this coming Easter one of my daughters is becoming a Catholic. Conclusion? Didn't do us any harm. I still admire Pullman's work. The problem with the movie? It wasn't a good movie. Read the reviews. It basically sank New Line. Read the annual report.

In its evocation of parallel universes, The Golden Compass (with The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) does what all good fantasy does, opening the mind of adult and child to alternative ways of seeing creation. That opens the door for faith, as I see it. That's Catholic enough for me.