I just got started with another famous book series: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Not too long ago I also read his Sally Lockhart Quartet and absolutely loved it, so I’m thrilled to finally check out Northern Lights (also known as The Golden Compass), the first installment. Well, in 2007 this novel was turned into a movie, that means twice the fun for me!
Lyra’s life is about to change drastically. While so far the girl got to spent her time playing, it gets serious when her friend Roger disappears. It soon turns out that something big is going on her and Lyra is determined to find out about it and save her friend.
Book vs. Movie:
As usual, I’ll kick off with the novel. By now Pullman is one of my favourite writes. I loved his Sally Lockhart books and was really excited to get started with the His Dark Materials series. Good old Philip didn’t let me down.
In Northern Lights he creates a fantastic world with wonderful and terrifying creatures topped with a dash of magic. The novel is extremely thrilling. You will have a hard time guessing what will happen next and you just can’t stop reading one more page until the book is suddenly over.
Pullman introduces a rather interesting concept. In the world of Norther Lights, people’s souls are accompanying in the form of a daemon. That’s an animal which kind of represents a person’s character. Until puberty those daemons are able to change their appearance.
I don’t no if it’s just me but throughout the entire book I kept wondering what kind of animal my daemon would be.
Another point I love about Pullman’s work is that nothing is just black and white. The characters are not just good or just bad, that’s what makes his books even more interesting.
Now to the movie. I really enjoyed the beginning of the film as they introduced some essential points within the voice over which made a bunch of things far easier to understand. I was also rather fond of seeing all the interesting tools and instruments that were mentioned in the book. It’s almost a bit steampunk-y and loved what they made the stuff look like.
However, my excitement died about 15 minutes into the film. It was soon clear that the entire thing was just as polished and cold as the metal of the instruments. For some reason I can not understand just about all the magical bits were taken out. I know that not all scenes from a novel can make it to the movie, but here the very essence of the book was left out.
I was extremely disappointed and for me the story lost all of its shine and thrill. It simply was too neat, to tidy, to forced. Not even good actors and awesome special effects can make up for rather bad story-telling.
So I have to say that you may be able to enjoy the film if you haven’t read the book. However, seeing the adaptation after the novel I was only disappointed. The movie lacks the very essence that makes the book stand out. For me it was boring and I can clearly understand why the remaining to adaptations were cancelled.
Have you seen the movie? Read the novel? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!