Golden Compass Goes South


American Papist reports the delightful news that the Pullman atheist propaganda film is a box office flop. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

The fact of the matter is that atheism just doesn’t delight anyone. Narnia enchants people because it is positive and full of light and faith. Lord of the Rings is built on beauty, nobility and hope. It is not the fantasy itself that delights and enthralls, but the beauty, truth, hope and goodness in those works.

Any work that is built on atheism, cynicism, doubt and negativity cannot possibly delight anyone. Instead it repels. At the very end of the day Pullman, Dawkins and their crowd (like communism) will fall flat. Shadows are nothing but the emptiness cast by light on solid form, and darkness is the absence of light.

The other problem with any work built from atheism is that it is bound to be a commercial flop because audiences are, for the most part, very conservative in their values.

They want Truth in their story, and that means they want a happy ending. They want what Tolkien called the ‘eucatastrophe’. The Eucatastrophe is the happy ending which proves that the story had a point and the hero’s quest had a reason, and that all the sacrifice was worth something of lasting and even eternal merit, and as Tolkien teaches in his essay on fairy stories, when a story has a happy ending people implicitly believe that life has a happy ending, and it it has a happy ending, then there must be someone who makes it have a happy ending, and therefore there must be an author, and the Eternal Author can only be the Almighty.

An atheist can never, therefore, write a tale that succeeds, and if he does all it will do is point (despite his most howlingly fierce atheism) that there is such a thing as an Author of Life after all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05810707774675254803 phbrown

    Fr. Dwight, however much I find myself in sympathy with your thesis, I’m not sure such a general statement as you’ve made really holds up. Wouldn’t Ayn Rand (for one) be a counterexample?Peace,–Peter

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11093539993032782156 Simon

    Oh please, it opened #1 with $25 million, and had one of the highest revenue-per-theater ratios of any other movie playing this week. Besides, the books are much more popular in Europe and the movie will likely do well there. I’ve been watching Christians try to contort the truth to portray the movie as this big box office failure its opening weekend, but any cursory knowledge of the movie industry would say otherwise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I’m unfamiliar with Ayn Rand, but from a quick look it would appear that she is humanist, but not aggressively atheist. My point is that aggressive and dogmatic atheism can only have soul, beauty and truth if it is borrowed.As for the success or failure of the movie, I guess time will tell. I’m not enough of a pundit myself to tell if it is a success or not. I just passed on what I read.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04298493682961935337 Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ

    Great news indeed!

  • Templar

    Simon said… Oh please, it opened #1 with $25 million, and had one of the highest revenue-per-theater ratios of any other movie playing this week. Besides, the books are much more popular in Europe and the movie will likely do well there. I’ve been watching Christians try to contort the truth to portray the movie as this big box office failure its opening weekend, but any cursory knowledge of the movie industry would say otherwise.Actually Simon, while you are correct that it was number #1 for it’s release weekend bringing in roughly $25M, New Line themselves knew that they needed to score at least $30-$45M it’s opening weekend to have a good chance of making a profit on it’s $180M investment, and being in the same class as LotR and Narnia. So, yes it was number #1, but still well below expectations. The next few weeks should tell the tale whether it can mount a recovery or slip off the screens quickly as other Christmas Season releases take center stage.

  • Anonymous

    I have read the books and in my opinion they are quite a good example of fantasy/adventure fiction (although I found the ending a little weak) The whole point of this type of fiction is that the author can create any kind of universe he or she chooses, he can have gods, magic, robots -literally anything goes. I think Christians making a huge fuss about this film are just puffing up Pullman and his atheist ego, ignore him and he’ll go away. Angela

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I am inclined to agree with you Angela, and I think, in the long run, Pullman’s work won’t last because it is essentially empty. Hoever, in the meantime, I think it is worth fighting the good fight because work like this really does damage souls. Philosophy and literature changes the world–and not always for the better.

  • bernadette

    Agreed. Phillip Pullman has a profound affect on yong people, certainly in the UK.. from my own observations… They love him. At the Hay on Wye Literary festival near us, a couple of years ago, they were queueing up to speak to him and hear more. Loads of Catholic High School students. The problem is, it is beautifully written and very seductive. One could go on about how evil it is for pages, but I can`t help thinking: “Where are all the Catholic writers who can counter this stuff with brilliant scripts, screen-plays and novels” ?I know early predictions are that the film is a flop, but everyone’s dead excited about it over here. And who knows what damage that will cause…. so, it is right to voice concerns.bernadette

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13838040127379584891 Rae

    Slightly tangential comment, but I really do think that Ayn Rand’s novels–and especially the Ayn Rand Institute–*are* aggressively atheistic! They portray religion as a delusion which, in advocating self-sacrifice, persuades talented people to waste their talent and resources on the lazy, untalented, and mediocre. The Ayn Rand Institute promotes its agenda in high schools through essay contests (I participated in one during the early 1990s) and, at the Institute itself, through courses in aetheistic “Objectivism.” These people are organized.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06624317806947588259 Rachel Gray

    Regarding the idea that “Christians making a huge fuss about this film are just puffing up Pullman and his atheist ego, ignore him and he’ll go away”…I think there’s a very good chance that a big part of the reason the film is doing poorly is that Christians have been using their broadcast and print media (and blogs!) to scream about how anti-Christian the movie is. A Christmas fantasy movie is a no-brainer to take the kids to, so I suspect a lot of Christian parents have refrained because they’ve been warned off.I think it was very worthwhile and important to make Pullman’s agenda known. If it were a little unknown book we could ignore it. But a blockbuster trilogy and a $180 million movie? It’s important to let our fellow Christians, especially parents, know what’s wrong with it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15000747762174079070 PraiseDivineMercy
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06104559106619389825 contrarian 78
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02790738673074885191 Oliver Hayes

    I have not yet seen this film, but I’ve downloaded the first five minutes and the trailer from the official website. From what I have seen it seems to be very crass and weak. However despite this and the injunctions of the Birmingham Oratory fathers not to see it, I shall do so as I have a close interest in Philip Pullman, and I wish to write about in more depth in my new blog: http://expectation-of-our-lady.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02790738673074885191 Oliver Hayes

    I have not yet seen this film, but I’ve downloaded the first five minutes and the trailer from the official website. From what I have seen it seems to be very crass and weak. However despite this and the injunctions of the Birmingham Oratory fathers not to see it, I shall do so as I have a close interest in Philip Pullman, and I wish to write about in more depth in my new blog: http://expectation-of-our-lady.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13817511811745085749 WhiteStoneNameSeeker

    I have been thinking the same thing. Tolkein and Lewis do well and have staying power because of the truth in the storytelling.Pullman has nothing to say.And where are the enviromentalists when we need them. Don’t they know this film is an insult to polar bears!

  • Donna

    I haven’t read the books or seen the movie, but, from what I’ve heard, they do not portray a world without God. They depict God as evil, and the world suffers from His presence, until He dies near the end of the final book. So, while Pullman is atheist, even he needed to have God in his book – if only to kill Him off. As for the movie takings, the last time I checked the U.S. numbers , the silly kids movie Alvin and the Chipmunks made more money in its first weekend than TGC did in its first two weekends. Considering that the singing rodents opened at the same time as the mega-blockbuster I Am Legend , I’d say the fact that they’ve out-performed TGC is an exceptionally bad sign, no ?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02538161183912665994 Augustine

    What I find particularly amusing about atheism is its friendship with satanism.Pretty much all of this current wave of atheistic proselytizers have stated their kinship with the devil, praising him as the enlightened and cool one. Although they swear that angels don’t exits (wink, wink, nod, nod).The fact is that we’ve seen it all before and the Church was far weaker at other challenging moments than nowadays. But, from a human perspective, this is an unsurmountable task. We just don’t have the bishops, the priests or the laity to counter this attack, but our Founder swore allegiance with His Church forever and it’s with the help of His Spirit that the Church will triumph again.God is know for using the vilest enemies to chastise us, because we deserve it. But He puts us down only to exult us.

  • Anonymous

    Pullman’s books are wonderful tales and christians can enjoy them. It may not be pullman’s intention but you can see “Dust” as the God figure andthe Authority that they kill as simply a metaphor for the name of God that people use to justify evil deeds.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X