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His Dark Materials (HBO) (1 Viewer)

Adam Lenhardt

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Twelve years after New Line Cinema's The Golden Compass failed to kick off a new young adult franchise in the face of underwhelming domestic box office and fierce criticism from the Catholic church, the studio is back at it again with a TV series adaptation of Philip Pullman's entire trilogy for BBC One in the UK and HBO in the rest of the world.

Placed there at the request of her Uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy)

In an alternate universe where people' souls live outside the body in animal forms called dæmons, Lyra Belacqua lives a sheltered life amongst the scholars and staff of Jordan College, Oxford. When the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter enters Lyra’s life she embarks upon a dangerous journey of discovery from Oxford to London to points much further North.

Teaser trailer:


The books are being adapted for television by Jack Thorne ("The Fades", Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), with roughly one season/series per book.

Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) served as producing director and helmed the first two episodes. Dawn Shadforth directed the third episode. Otto Bathurst ("Black Mirror", "Peaky Blinders", Robin Hood) directed the fourth and fifth episodes. Euros Lyn ("Doctor Who", "Torchwood: Children of Earth", "Daredevil") directed the sixth episode. Jamie Childs ("Doctor Who") directed the seventh and eighth episodes.

Joel Collins (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow, London Has Fallen, "Black Mirror") served as production designer. Caroline McCall (Millions, "Downton Abbey", Hyde Park on Hudson) served as costume designer.

Justin Brown ("The End of the F***ing World") served as director of photography for Hooper's episodes. Suzie Lavelle ("Ripper Street", "A Discovery of Witches", "Vikings") served as director of photography for Shadforth's episode. David Luther ("The Musketeers", "Black Sails") served as director of photography for Bathurst's episodes. Ole Bratt Birkeland ("Utopia", "The Crown", The Little Stranger) served as director of photography for Lyn's episode. David Higgs (RocknRolla, "Outlander", "Origin") served as director of photography for Childs's episodes.

Framestore is the lead visual effects house.

Cast (Main):
  • Dafne Keen (Logan) as Lyra (played by Dakota Blue Richards in the film)
  • James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, Wanted, X-Men: First Class) as Lord Asriel (played by Daniel Craig in the film), a brilliant scholar and a fearless explorer.
  • Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre, "Luther", "The Affair") as Mrs. Coulter (played by Nicole Kidman in the film), an enigmatic woman whose origins hold many secrets, and who has gained power in a patriarchal society against the odds. Intelligent and manipulative, Mrs. Coulter always needs to be in control; but her motivations are rarely as they seem.
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns) as Lee Scoresby (played by Sam Elliott in the film), a trouble-prone but levelheaded aeronaut-for-hire, from the independent Republic of Texas.
  • Archie Barnes as Pantalaimon (played by Freddie Highmore in the film), Lyra's dæmon.
England:
  • Clarke Peters as The Master
  • Ian Gelder as Librarian Scholar Charles
  • Will Keen as Father MacPhail
  • Ariyon Bakare as Lord Boreal
  • Georgina Campbell as journalist Adele Starminster
  • Lewin Lloyd as Roger Parslow
Gyptians:
  • Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa
  • James Cosmo as Farder Coram
  • Lucian Msamati as John Faa
  • Mat Fraser as Raymond Van Geritt
  • Geoff Bell as Jack Verhoeven
  • Simon Manyonda as Benjamin de Ruyter
  • Daniel Frogson as Tony Costa
  • Tyler Howitt as Billy Costa
 

Keith Cobby

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Thanks for that, I hadn't realised that a series was coming. I really enjoyed The Golden Compass with its outstanding performances by Nicole Kidman and Dakota Blue Richards. Sorry that the latter is not in the new series of Endeavour currently broadcast in the UK.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Thanks for that, I hadn't realised that a series was coming. I really enjoyed The Golden Compass with its outstanding performances by Nicole Kidman and Dakota Blue Richards. Sorry that the latter is not in the new series of Endeavour currently broadcast in the UK.
The cast of the movie looked more like my mental image of the characters when I was reading the books, but some of these casting choices feel more like the characters.

Keen, for instance, doesn't have dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. But she's got Lyra's unruly nature. Nicole Kidman looked exactly like Mrs. Coulter was described, and Ruth Wilson doesn't look anything like Mrs. Coulter was described, but given some of the other casting choices that makes sense.

The one casting switch that seems sure to be a letdown is Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby. Sam Elliott was perfect in that role. I'm half-convinced that Pullman was picturing Elliott when he created the character. That being said, I'm interested to see what direction Miranda takes the character.
 

Johnny Angell

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I haven’t read the books and the movie, for me, was just meh. I resented very much the attack on the movie by people who had never seen it, but believed their sacred cow was being gored. My simple suggestion was don’t see the movie, but don’t try to deny others the right to see it.

I hope this version is more successful financially and artistically.
 

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Johnny, I remember two rounds of protests/complaints when the original movie came out.

The first group, the louder one as I recall, was from people who had no intention of seeing the film, and likely hadn't read the books, but felt that (sight unseen) the movie was insulting their religious beliefs, and tried to have it banned on those grounds. I'm opposed to such censorship.

The second group, a smaller one from what I remember, was from fans of the book who were upset that the film essentially stops right before the story's climax; it leaves the movie with an ending that completely twists and distorts how the story is supposed to end and how we're supposed to feel about the characters. Apparently this footage was shot but discarded. I don't remember any of those book fans saying that the film shouldn't exist, but I can understand their disappointment that the film's ending was gutted the way it was.
 

Edwin-S

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I haven’t read the books and the movie, for me, was just meh. I resented very much the attack on the movie by people who had never seen it, but believed their sacred cow was being gored. My simple suggestion was don’t see the movie, but don’t try to deny others the right to see it.

I hope this version is more successful financially and artistically.

The movie was tame compared to the original authors book series: where his hatred for Christianity, in particular, became more and more apparent.
 

Johnny Angell

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The movie was tame compared to the original authors book series: where his hatred for Christianity, in particular, became more and more apparent.
I read that the author's dislike for religion was aimed at organized religion, as opposed to personal spirituality. However should you be correct, I would still argue that to organize a boycott and oppose the existence of the film, is wrong, very wrong.

And now we are close to discussing, gasp, religion on this forum. Since I've basically said what I wanted to say, will comment no further on this particular facet of the discussion.
 

Johnny Angell

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Johnny, I remember two rounds of protests/complaints when the original movie came out.

The first group, the louder one as I recall, was from people who had no intention of seeing the film, and likely hadn't read the books, but felt that (sight unseen) the movie was insulting their religious beliefs, and tried to have it banned on those grounds. I'm opposed to such censorship.

The second group, a smaller one from what I remember, was from fans of the book who were upset that the film essentially stops right before the story's climax; it leaves the movie with an ending that completely twists and distorts how the story is supposed to end and how we're supposed to feel about the characters. Apparently this footage was shot but discarded. I don't remember any of those book fans saying that the film shouldn't exist, but I can understand their disappointment that the film's ending was gutted the way it was.
Yes, I agree that disappointment in a film is a valid point of view, particularly when it fails to do a decent job adapting original material.
 

Johnny Angell

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The one casting switch that seems sure to be a letdown is Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby. Sam Elliott was perfect in that role. I'm half-convinced that Pullman was picturing Elliott when he created the character. That being said, I'm interested to see what direction Miranda takes the character.
He may turn out to be brilliant or this may be an example of Hollywood casting for star power over what the part really needs. Won't be the last time.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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The second group, a smaller one from what I remember, was from fans of the book who were upset that the film essentially stops right before the story's climax; it leaves the movie with an ending that completely twists and distorts how the story is supposed to end and how we're supposed to feel about the characters. Apparently this footage was shot but discarded. I don't remember any of those book fans saying that the film shouldn't exist, but I can understand their disappointment that the film's ending was gutted the way it was.
Yes, the book's ending was shot but discarded, one of New Line Cinema's many heavy-handed interventions into the post-production on that film, if the director Chris Weitz is to be believed. The plan was to instead use the ending as shot as the cold open of the second film, which never ended up happening. I've often wondered why, once it became clear that there wasn't going to be a second movie, we never saw an extended cut on home video with the book's ending restored. The only thing I can think of is that the visual effects were never completely, and New Line didn't want to spend that much money on a movie that was already perceived as a dud.

The movie was tame compared to the original authors book series: where his hatred for Christianity, in particular, became more and more apparent.
Pullman has an axe to grind with organized religion in general, of which Christianity (and the Catholic Church in particular) was the most prominent example.

My guess is that the Magisterium's role as the enforcement authority of the Church will be a lot more explicit in the TV series than it was in the book. I also think The Amber Spyglass has a much better chance of being adapted faithfully as part of the TV series than it would have as a movie. In particular, the references to the awakening sexuality in the young protagonists that were stripped out of the US editions of the book.
 

Johnny Angell

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My guess is that the Magisterium's role as the enforcement authority of the Church will be a lot more explicit in the TV series than it was in the book. I also think The Amber Spyglass has a much better chance of being adapted faithfully as part of the TV series than it would have as a movie. In particular, the references to the awakening sexuality in the young protagonists that were stripped out of the US editions of the book.
They censore the novel? Why am I not surprised.
 

Edwin-S

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Pullman has an axe to grind with organized religion in general, of which Christianity (and the Catholic Church in particular) was the most prominent example.

My guess is that the Magisterium's role as the enforcement authority of the Church will be a lot more explicit in the TV series than it was in the book. I also think The Amber Spyglass has a much better chance of being adapted faithfully as part of the TV series than it would have as a movie. In particular, the references to the awakening sexuality in the young protagonists that were stripped out of the US editions of the book.

He presented quite a few religions in his books including shamanism, animism and paganism. And not one of them took the beating and the hate that he had for Christianity in the form of the Magisterium. In fact, he was quite sympathetic to a lot of them. That doesn't mean the movie should have been sanitized like it was, in an attempt to prevent controversy. However, the fact they did tone down the anti-Christian rhetoric showed how concerned the film's makers were that it would be seen as being polemic and potentially damage its box office results. Either way it didn't turn out well for them.

it will be interesting to see how they handle this material in a TV series. If it remains faithful to the books then I see a lot of upset Christians down the road, especially Catholic ones. I wonder how the are going to handle the bear in a TV series because they certainly are not going to have the VFX budget of feature film to play with.
 

Edwin-S

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I'm sure they are. But the Polar Bear in the books is a main character in his own right. However, we will see if they manage to pull him off.
 

Edwin-S

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Based on the brief glimpses in this new trailer, I would say yes:


It looks a lot better than I thought it would. The show looks promising too. Too bad I don't get HBO and no longer have a cable subscription, otherwise I would be sure to watch at least some of this to see whether they pull it off.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Comic-Con trailer:

It looks a lot better than I thought it would. The show looks promising too. Too bad I don't get HBO and no longer have a cable subscription, otherwise I would be sure to watch at least some of this to see whether they pull it off.
If you have a decent broadband connection, wait until the last episode has aired, subscribe for a month, and then cancel once you've finished watching.
 

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