Once upon a time, director Chris Weitz directed a movie, an adaptation of Philip Pullman's novel, Northern Lights, from the book series His Dark Materials. Surely, everything's going as planned, right?
Well, when the movie did came out, the reception is... erm... not that great.
People who watched it mentioned that the entire thing felt like an incomplete movie. Scene order appears to be off, and the pacing is quite jumbled and confusing. I've watched this movie with my parents back when it came out in 2007 here in Malaysia, and I agree, it really did felt like an incomplete movie.
All that sitting through the movie and then, suddenly, bam! Ending credits. And I was like, "Huh?"
Now, just so that I don't have to repeat this again, I'll just give my final score early on: 3 out of 10 stars. So there. Let's move on...
What went wrong? Weitz is not to be blamed; he really did his best in adapting Pullman's novel as faithful as it can be. Sure, Weitz did admit that he wanted to completely remove any references to God and religion, with a good reason: he just didn't want to face the wrath of religious groups bashing the movie. Of course, we know that Pullman is an atheist -- this is common fact, and His Dark Materials books are like a (not so) subtle mockery against religion, especially Christianity; Christianity in Lyra's world seems to be analogous to Satanism in our world. No wonder Catholics and other religious groups want to boycott the novel series. Weitz had to find a way to make this movie as acceptable to a wide audience as possible, while ensuring that only the most die-hard fans of the novel series get the subtle religious hints.
It turns out that, upon deeper investigation, the movie was edited against Weitz's will by New Line Cinema. Besides the title change to "The Golden Compass", because that's the title the novel, Nothern Lights, was released as in the US, the movie faced multiple edits; the most damning is the complete removal of the already-filmed ending where Lord Asriel killed Roger by ripping his dæmon away in order to open a portal between worlds -- in this case, our world.
This scene was to be the climax of the entire movie. Its removal meant that the order of the scenes had to be hastily edited to make-up for the slack. The climatic battle of Bolvangar at the end of the movie was meant to be just a not-so-climatic skirmish fight that happened much earlier on. I read that this happened because New Line wanted this movie to end in a more positive note, compared to the shocking and depressing ending of the source novel.
Both Weitz and Pullman did hope that the original ending would eventually be featured in the sequel as that movie's prologue... if
a sequel gets to be made. The Golden Compass suffered poorly in the US market, gaining like only $70 million compared to its $180 million production budget. This box office flop is so bad, New Line dissolved itself into its parent company, Warner Bros. Bizarrely enough, it did far more successfully internationally, earning up to $302 million from international box office alone, but since the movie was funded overseas, New Line never received any of those money. Big bummer.
Then again, let's assume, for a moment, that this movie did get made as faithfully to the novel as possible, with all those scenes intact, and with all the religious themes kept in. It would've probably been a much massive box office success then, but at the same time, it would've also garnered lots of controversies. Heck, this movie would've probably even been banned in Malaysia,
no thanks to our atrocious conservative Islamic culture here, due to the way the book series depicts the very concept of God and religions. So it's a lose-lose situation.
Nobody wins, and we just accept what was given to us.
More info about this cut job, and the deleted scenes discovered so far including the intended final scene, can be found on this website: www.northern-lights-fanedit.co…
My SoundCloud page: soundcloud.com/marwangreencrit…
My Bandcamp page: marwangreencritter.bandcamp.co…
I accept commissions. More info: marwangreencritter.deviantart.…
2. Tkongingi (non-DA member) (pending)
3. (1st commission 50% complete, 2nd commission pending)
5. (10% complete)