Wednesday, December 4, 2002

From UPI:

Tom Stoppard has signed on to adapt Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" for the screen.

The article evaluates the series:

This statement perfectly describes the faith of secular modernity, and it makes understandable the enthusiasm for Pullman's books among intellectuals like Stoppard and Jon Snow, the chairman of the Whitbread Prize committee, who upon giving the prize to Pullman (the first children's author to win it) confessed that "We (the jurors) are more taken, it has to be said, with (his) view of God than Lewis's."

"His Dark Materials" is an attempt to mythologize the Enlightenment, to retell the story of the world using the paradigms of modern atheistic materialism. But the fact that, among other things, its climax -- the salvation of humanity achieved by a teenage kiss, ushering in a life that will entail, as Lyra says, "all those difficult things like cheerful and kind and curious and patient, and we've got to study and think and work hard, all of us, in all our different worlds" -- is so banal shows that much more needs to be done in order to make this myth a strong competitor to the one Lewis and Tolkein drew from in their stories.

So Christians need not fret too much about Pullman. His challenge to the Christian myth is, while fascinating and impressive, ultimately a failure. What's more, he tests his protagonists in courage and loyalty and purity of heart, virtues that all people of faith can applaud. For all his efforts to overthrow the Christian story in fantasy literature, Pullman ironically ends up reaffirming its richness -- in part by virtue of the fact that his alternative, despite its many sparkling moments, cannot find a conclusion that is really compelling.

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