Now that the Harry Potter books, films, water globes, watches and tote bags are an established part of western culture, banning The Golden Compass is about to be all the rage. The film, which stars Nicole Kidman, is based on the novel, Northern Lights, the first of British author Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials . It tells the story of an orphaned girl who lives in a parallel universe that is threatened by a rigid dictatorship called the Magisterium.
Calling the film “atheism for kids,” the Catholic League has strongly suggested that Northern Lights and the rest of the trilogy be removed from schools and libraries. Most descriptions of the film indicate that the author’s stance against organized religion, and the Catholic church in particular, has been significantly diluted in the film version, but the banning has already begun. Catholic League William A. Donohue say he is aware that the film is tame by the book’s standards, but he is afraid that children who see the film will want to read the novel.
Pullman, for his part, disagrees that The Golden Compass is anti-Catholic, though he acknowledges that atheism is a theme in the film. The American Library Association has issued a statement that calls on parents, teachers and librarians to resist any attempts to censor library collections.
And in a parallel universe where children are discouraged from reading books, several schools have already removed Pullman’s works from the shelves.
The Golden Compass opens in theaters this Friday.