Friday, December 11, 2009

Film Flash Friday: The Golden Compass

A little story about sticker shock. I guess I never really thought that sticker shock could be a term that could apply to something other than price tags. But I think that movie ratings can be a sort of sticker shock. Having just finished the dvd previews I was greeted by a green screen that had in print big enough for my grandmother to read from two rooms down, PG-13. For a moment I couldn't believe that the movie I had seen marketed to little kids under 13 could be rated (and recommended) for those over 13. I was familiar with the themes of the books, but I began to wonder what had pushed this film over the PG rating I had expected. The film was undoubtedly darker than it's counterpart The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Murder, free will, death, and spirits were all subjects broached upon within the first fifteen minutes. What surprised me the most though was my obliviousness towards it. I approached the movie as an adult would. It wasn't until the final battle scene that I began to wonder what a 10 year-old Alysa would think of it (had my parent's allowed me to see it--which would definitely be questionable). Would I have found the film scary? Or would, I just watch it like I would Toy Story? Neat, new, and different? The battle scenes in this movie and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe have been rattling around in my mind for sometime. One of the jarring things about them is that the battle scenes involve children as warriors. Despite the opponents often being personified animals, I wonder if war is encroaching upon the minds of our youth. The success of such movies with young audiences makes me wonder if the films are indeed a reflection of a more realistic, information accessible world where children are often aware of the issues that plague their adult counterparts. Children playing subdued versions of violent games is not a new concept. While working at one summer camp I over heard one kid propose to another that they play good guys versus the terrorists, a modern day version of Cowboys and Indians, I guess.

With movies like the Golden Compass, I am reminded that despite films moving the setting to far away fantastical worlds the issues at the heart of a lot of them seem to hit close to home. I wonder if it is disappointing or upsetting to children to voyeur to a new world only to discover there is no happy oasis. That happy endings have to be fought for. Perhaps, it is a great comfort. Maybe these new more realistic oriented children films are a great mirror for children to look into and study. Or maybe, these movies are nothing more than a subliminal blip in the great expanse of children's thoughts. Maybe.

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