Director Chris Weitz writes the Atlantic’s editors a stern letter regarding Hanna Rosin’s piece about The Golden Compass. He calls it a hatchet job, and complains that she accused him of “selling out” author Philip Pullman’s books. Rosin replies, claiming that she was just trying to explain how hard it was to make a profitable movie, but not offend the religious types who Pullman distains.
Lyra is happily relating a tale for the gyptian children…
“… It took him five whole minutes to die, and he was in torment the whole time.”
“Did you see it happen?”
“No, ’cause girls en’t allowed at High Table. But I seen his body afterwards when they laid him out. His skin was all withered like an old apple, and his eyes were starting from his head. In fact, they had to push ’em back in the sockets…”
I just love that “And so on.” I can just imagine the omniscient narrator rolling his eyes, abruptly turning, and striding off to the fen country. It is such an amazing construction of text. First there is the long story from Lyra interrupted by staccato questions from the gyptian kids. This is broken up with the one-sentence-paragraph sigh of the narrator. And then we are off with a long paragraph of story exposition about the fen country.
Philip Pullman talks with John Mullan of the Guardian Book Club about writing, reading, narrators, Milton, daemons, Mrs. Coulter, angels’ taste in food, among many other things (and gives a very intriguing little hint about on extra bit in his forthcoming book Once Upon a Time in the North).
Whatever stories are made of, words aren’t fundamental to it. Something else is. And what I think is fundamental to the narrative process is events — stories are made of events….Whether we read it in a children’s book or hear it being told to us in a class, it doesn’t matter. It’s the story itself, the events themselves that have that power to affect us.
I started listening to the audio book of The Golden Compasslast week
(for the umpteenth time) and it reminds me that whatever we think
about the movie, the story is alive and well in the words Philip Pullman put
down (and reads) so beautifully. The books are selling splendidly well
(sorry, Mr. Donohue) and the story will live on because it is great.
I am not given to hyperbole, but it is for me truly one of the great
works of British children’s literature. Every reading is a richer one.
I’m now at Bolvanger and (perhaps because I’ve been talking so much
about the book in school) particularly noticed how Philip Pullman used his
experiences as a teacher. He totally captures the children’s way of
grouping, of playing, of talking together. And then, that sprite of a
narrator, goes a little deeper by commenting on Lyra being such a good
liar because she is so lacking in imagination. Brilliant. The real
story is the thing. It transcends New Line, Chris Weitz, Bill
Donohue, and everything else.
“So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in,
and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky.”