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(2007), PG-13 [Strong R-13*] (1hr 42min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
48 out of 100

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2007), PG-13 [Strong R-13*] ... sets the stage ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): New Line Cinema, Scholastic Productions, Depth of Field, Ingenious Film Partners, Rhythm and Hues
Distribution (US): New Line Cinema
Director(s): Chris Weitz
Producer(s): Bill Carraro, Toby Emmerich, Deborah Forte, Michael Lynne, Ileen Maisel, Andrew Miano, Mark Ordesky, Robert Shaye, Paul Weitz
Written by: Philip Pullman (novel - also released as The Northern Lights)
Screenplay: Chris Weitz
Cinematography/Camera: Henry Braham
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Film Editing: Anne V. Coates, Peter Honess, Kevin Tent
Casting: Lucy Bevan, Fiona Weir
Production Design: Dennis Gassner
Art Direction: Richard L. Johnson, Chris Lowe, Andy Nicholson
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

All the hype about the anti-church, anti-God, Word-counterfeiting content expected of avowed atheist author Philip Pullman and predicted of The Golden Compass, volume one of a hopeful film trilogy of the book trilogy His Dark Material  (The Golden Compass,  The Subtle Knife  and The Amber Spyglass), is not all that accurate. Apparently the film content is toned down from that of the film's children's source book. Even the director, Chris Weitz is noted as saying "I will not be involved with any 'watering down' of books two and three."

Some such Truth-corrupting elements, which are apparently plentiful in the book, can be found in The Golden Compass  movie if one can keep his/her eyes and ears open, is armed with the Word and is not swayed by the sometimes ambiguous nature of thinly veiled innuendo. However "sanitized" this film might be of the reported Spiritually corruptive content of the source book, such content is still present in the film. And if you spend money to see it you will be supporting one who likely wants your kids to stop believing in God; who sets the stage for making that happen. Subtly. And likely invisibly to the target age stratum -- the most morally and Spiritually vulnerable age made gullible by strongly appealing cinematography such as the little girl riding a Panserbjørne, a great bear in the icy far North as the beast blasts through snowy land in slow motion.

That the cut of the film I saw of this book-borne snack of atheistic candy is apparently muted maybe for a reason -- to perk interest by making the first installment appealing and attractive to children to get them to buy the books, preparing them for a barrage of fine-sounding arguments [Col. 2:4], vain philosophy [Col. 2:8] and smooth talk [Rom. 16:17 - 18] against the Word in later installments. We'll see. I fully intend to conduct analysis for you of each of the next two installments and prepare a comparative of all three should the next two volumes of His Dark Material  become films. Note that the ending of The Golden Compass  makes ripe the chances of a sequel ... or two. The Golden Compass  is the infant. Next is the toddler then the teen likely with a whole lot more to say.

Heavy accents and other matters such as inadequate character development and connectivity made it difficult for me to follow the story but I want to offer what I can to help you fathom what is fed to your children by this children's book-to-screen film.

After narrating that no one possesses his/her soul, rather that his/her soul is possessed by his/her dæmon -- a familiar spirit in animal form [Deut. 18:10 - 11] -- the story opens with orphaned Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) trying to control other children with a witch's tale of harm. After entering Jordan College where her scientist "uncle" Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) works while hiding in a closet of a room where she is not supposed to be, Lyra witnesses an attempt to assassinate Lord Asriel by poison drink. The theocratic organization called the Magesterium, the tyrannical "church", wants Asriel dead. Lyra saves Asriel by knocking the drink from his hand.

The Magesterium, complete with medieval clerical garb, kidnaps and tortures children to separate their soul-possessing dæmon from them to maintain power by eliminating free will during youth. The Magesterium and its hitmen run the government with the aid of their General Oblation Board (GOB) -- the GOBblers. The Golden Compass  is the retelling of the age-old story of freedom of choice fighting the stifling of free will by religious fear tactics. That is to assume we are to fear God. Please visit our publication Fear of God. It explains how we do not need to be afraid of God to fear Him. God certainly gave us the freedom of choice but the freedom of choice does not give the freedom to sin. [1Pet. 2:16]

The Magesterium wants Lord Asriel dead because of Lord Asriel's discovery of Dust, a cosmic matter that seems to nurture the free will of youth and thereby incite young adults to rebel against the authority of the Magesterium. I can see the emails now, claiming the CAP Ministry is the Magesterium, believing the influence of much of the entertainment industry incites youth to rebel with the influence of the entertainment industry being the Dust.

In a world powered by eerie blue fire-like anbaric energy, Dust has mystical powers and is thought to originate in a parallel universe and enable travel between universes, thus challenging the authority of the Magesterium. And what better way to be rid of Asriel than to fund his expedition to the North and let the Tartars and the elements kill him. Little did they know that Gyptian king John Faa (Jim Carter), the witch queen Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green), a gaggle of witches, Aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliott) plus Panserbjørne (ice bear) Iorek Byrnison (voice of Ian McKellen) would be strong allies of Asriel and Lyra.

To prevent Dust from, in the minds of the Magesterium, corrupting children the Magesterium dictates that all children must have their dæmons removed since a dæmon has an appetite for Dust. The children are kidnapped and taken to Bolvangar in the North. In Bolvangar the children and their dæmons are separated, painfully, by forcing them into the intercission machine.

As Lord Asriel prepares to embark on his expedition to the North to research Dust, Mrs. Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman) decides Lyra is not fit as a 12 year old to make the trip with Lord Asriel. Taking custody of Lyra, Coulter slowly reveals her intent. A hint of her intent lies in her personal hypocritical doctrine that the rules don't apply to those "at the top." Lyra becomes more of a captive than a guest. Coulter is a high-ranking agent of the Magesterium and boss of the Bolvangar intercission station. While under the custody of Coulter, the master of Jordan College (Jack Shepherd) gives Lyra the last alethiometer (the Golden Compass) which enables Lyra, a rather bitter 12 year old girl, to see the truth which often includes seeing the future. [Eccl. 8:7]

Lyra escapes Coulter's clutches, is kidnapped by the Samoyeds and, after escaping their clutches with the aid of the Gyptians, travels north to find and rescue her friend Roger (Ben Walker) who has been kidnapped along with dozens of other kids by the Gobblers and taken to Bolvangar in the North to have their souls separated from them so they may more easily stifle their free will. "Their souls" maybe more accurately defined as their moral consciences in accordance with the story's use of "free will" or, maybe better said, in accordance with the moral filtration of the story.

In that is one allegory of anti-Christianity. Many feel that obedience to God's Word is stifling of the free will: that God-given free will might permit the occasional practice of sin; that if our God-given free will guides us to shrug off any obedience then it must be okay every now and then; that, e.g., if something is beautiful and feels good it must be right. Free will, or freedom of choice is indeed God-given but it certainly is not a freedom to sin. It does not give us the freedom to decide on our own what is and is not sin. Indeed, all that the freedom of choice gives us is the freedom to choose to obey or not to obey. If we choose not to obey -- if we choose to sin -- there are consequences. That is simple. This film counterfeits that reality by placing authority (God's Word) in the role of the criminal and they who choose to defy authority -- they who choose to exercise their free will [to sin] -- as the victims.

With a final score of 48, having the most dense content found by the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) and Offense to God (O) investigation areas, The Golden Compass  is a strong R-13, six points below the "R-13" threshold of 54 (see R-13 for more information). It is probably as dark or darker than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in these areas and definitely darker than many R-rated films in violence (W) and unholiness (O). But on a positive note, The Golden Compass  is surprisingly lite for a PG-13 in sexually immoral behavior/imagery (S) and murder/suicide (M). See the individual investigation area discussions below and the listings in the Findings/Scoring section of this report for more information on investigation area content and scoring.

Another of the allegories that challenge the Christian's faith in God's Word is very subtle. Mrs. Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman) says to Lyra "It would be best if we were left to do as we please." A key doctrine of the Satanic bible is "Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law."

Yet another challenge of the Christian faith is that this story makes claim that the soul is not part of the human host: that one's soul is a separate entity carried through life in a talking animal called a dæmon, more accurately a familiar spirit. The animal shape-shifts to a different animal (which, if shape-shifting exists, is unholy) to reflect the changing character of the child host but as the child enters adulthood the animal becomes static and reflects the character of the host. While such a concept would make it easy to know the character of the one with whom one must deal -- just observe the animal host of his/her soul -- animal hosting of your soul is most certainly not within God's design. This concept was used as a cinematic tool to help the viewer know the personality of certain characters. Coulter's dæmon is a malevolent monkey. Some had insects on their shoulder.

If you choose to watch this film and the ensuing sequels, please understand there is danger in the cunning of they who present doctrines and ideas that corrupt faith in Christ and the Word of God. Carry with you in your heart His Word: [Eph. 4:14] "That we henceforth [after reaching unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"

Following are brief discussions of content by investigation area. For a detailed presentation of the findings see the listings in the Findings/Scoring section.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Though the violence in this film is bloodless and gore-free, it is often intense and graphic. This investigation area found enough content for this area of the film to be clearly equivalent to many R-rated features, not necessarily in intensity of each item of violence but rather in the vast number of examples: enough violence content to earn a score of zero out of 100 in this investigation area. See the CAP Rule of 1000 for more information on this technique of loading content. Examples of violence include kidnapping, death by fall, arrow impalements, gunfire to kill, threats to do harm, firearm to the face to control, battle sequences with many killings and attempted murder of a child. Most of the issues of violence involve a child or children. [Prov. 16:29]

Impudence/Hate (I)
This investigation area found content centered around child behaviors regarding rules and authority [Heb. 13:17], abuse of a child [Eph. 6:4, Luke 17:2, Matt. 25:40, Matt. 18:10] and a child assuming unmerited autonomy.

Sexual Immorality (S)
The only matters regarding sexually immoral behavior and/or imagery are that of Kidman wearing a form-fitting dress that displayed excessive cleavage and admission of immoral sex resulting in a child out of wedlock. [Hebr. 13:4]

Drugs/Alcohol (D)
Drinking alcoholic beverages (once by a child) and the use of a drug to attempt poisoning are the only drugs and/or alcohol content noted. There is danger in the middle school age stratum being exposed to drinking alcoholic beverages in an as entertainment. The American College of Physicians found in a study of 4544 youths from grade five through eight (90% were under 14 years old) that there is an undeniable link between youthful abuse of alcohol and drinking in movies.

Offense to God (O)
Like the content found by the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) investigation area, this investigation area found enough content to earn an area score of zero. Witchcraft/witches, shape-shifting, presentation of doctrines in defiance of and mocking His Word, portrayal of a young girl being fulfillment of a witches' prophecy, portrayal of witches as "good' [Isa. 5:20], more. There are too many items of content applicable to this investigation area to summarize. Look to the listing in the Findings/Scoring section for the best representation oft he content of this film.

Murder/Suicide (M)
While there were many killings in this film, none were murder since each was a defensive killing.


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  • Col. 2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • Rom. 16:17 - 18 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the [Biblical] teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
  • Deut. 18:10 - 11 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, ...
  • 1Pet. 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. ["Free men" means free from condemnation to Hell though Salvation by the Blood of Jesus.]
  • Eccl. 8:7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?
  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence, no matter how "small" it might seem and its effect on an observer. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women/characters demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen. Knowing of Prov. 16:29 you now know why violence, especially in and as entertainment, can embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. See Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV. And see 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Heb. 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you [fair and  responsible authority, properly appointed and righteous by His Word], and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account [report to God], that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
  • Eph. 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones [which includes at-home teens]; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. ["Despise" is kataphroneo {kat-af-ron-eh'-o}: to condemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of, to look down upon (which includes abuse, even by influence, lying to them, enticing/teasing them, frightening them, seducing them and/or their thoughts, etc.). What do you want the angels for your kids to say to God? By the way, "little ones" is mikros meaning less by birth, younger. All of your children are "less by birth" than you. All of them are "younger." So, "little ones" includes at-home teens.]
  • Hebr. 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure [which includes before AND during marriage AND gender], for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. [Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]
  • Isa. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective  heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    The Golden Compass (2007) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • using a tale of harm by witchcraft to intimidate
  • threat to silence
  • explosive startle
  • using an animal attack of another animal to extort
  • kidnappings, several, a couple graphic
  • defensive killings by arrow, sword, gun and other assault devices, repeatedly: two rather graphic
  • multiple firearms
  • gunfire to kill
  • firearm threat to control, repeatedly, once to the face
  • fall death, two, graphic
  • threat to do harm, repeatedly
  • action violence, repeatedly, of varying intensities
  • intense battle sequence with many deaths
  • threat to kill child
  • great threat to child by bears, long sequence
  • fight to the death between bears, intense but no blood
  • defensive killing of a bear by a bear, graphic
  • peril to child crossing crumbling ice bridge
  • tale of child deaths in escaping from evil deeds
  • tale of ripping children apart
  • attempted murder of a child
  • sword threat of children
  • multiple animal threat to children
  • many defensive/warfare killings
  • firearm threats to many children
  • animal bite on man's head

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • adolescent disobedience and defiance of authority
  • adolescent backtalk
  • adolescent taking terrible risks
  • adolescent mischief
  • child listening to "voice of disobedience"
  • lies, repeatedly
  • child abandonment
  • child leaving mother to help another child
  • slap to child's face by an adult
  • portrayal of children with total autonomy

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • excessive cleavage in form-fitting dress, repeatedly
  • admission of immoral sex
  • child by immoral sex

    Drugs/Alcohol (D)
  • poisoning a beverage to kill
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • child drinking alcohol but spitting it out
  • character guzzling whiskey with implication of it being done often

    Offense to God (O)
  • God's name in vain, repeatedly but without the four letter expletive
  • demonology, portrayal of the human soul occupying an animal familiar spirit
  • witchcraft, repeatedly
  • shape shifting, repeatedly
  • "It would be best if we were left to do as we please"
  • sympathetic harm to human host caused by harm done to familiar spirit, repeatedly
  • knowing the future and revealing the unknown
  • portrayal that souls can be killed/separated from the human host
  • many witches, repeatedly
  • levitation
  • mockery of obedience
  • small mechanical insects powered by evil spirits
  • battle by evil soldiers and witches
  • portrayal of witches as good
  • a young girl as fulfillment of witches' prophesy

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted (all killings were defensive or a consequence of defensive maneuvers)

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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