If Chronicles of Narnia is fantasy’s answer to Christian filmmaking then the dirty little secret of the fantasy novels on which the upcoming movie His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass is based, is that they’re pretty heavily anti-religion. In fact, it’s a critical element of the stories and since the adaptation of the first book into film was announced, fans have been scared to death that the property would be Hollywoodized to remove any controversial material in the face of growing religious fanaticism around the world. It seems those fears may have been well founded.

Nicole Kidman, who stars in the movie as one of the series’ most dastardly villains, recently spoke about the film’s potentially controversial religious elements to Entertainment Weekly via the Syndey Morning Herald and admits that the religious elements have “been watered down a little.” She may even have had something to do with watering it down. The article goes on about what devout Catholic she is, and Kidman admits she wouldn’t have done the film if she thought it was anti-Catholic.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Non-belief in god may be the third biggest belief system on the planet (right behind Christianity and Islam), but the religious majority loves pretending atheism and agnosticism simply don’t exist. The “His Dark Materials” series is at its core, about a group of people deciding to kill god because well… he’s kind of a douche. Along the way they fight evil Church authorities who kidnap and murder children, and get help from a pair of helpful homosexual angels. Apparently it’s ok to make a fantasy movie like Narnia, which is absolutely soaked in religion, but not ok to make a movie which is rooted in the opposing viewpoint.

The really disheartening thing here is that the first book, on which the first movie is based, is the most innocent of the three His Dark Materials novels. The Golden Compass is the most family friendly of the three, the least anti-religion, and in fact you could easily read through it and miss most of the god-hating elements entirely. If they have to water this one down, I shudder to think what garbage they’re going to turn the latter books into, should they ever get made.

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