Philip Pullman’s astounding His Dark Materials trilogy suffered a serious blow when, in 2007, it was the victim of what was one of the worst book-to-film adaptations in history, in my opinion. I have previously written about my (very strong) feelings regarding a number of disastrous Hollywood adaptations of children’s books, but I truly feel that Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass wins the Oscar for Worst Adaptation, Really Terrible, or as I like to call it when awarding the recipients in my head: W.A.R.T. Because I feel that I expressed my needlessly intense feelings adequately the last time I wrote about this, here is a quote from my original article on children’s adaptations that have personally offended me:
Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is arguably one of the most intricate, marvelous, and thought-provoking series in the history of fiction. It deals with vast concepts using incredible characters, and is set against the backdrop of a meticulously constructed world. The film, however, is more along the lines of ‘haha look at this talking polar bear.’ A hideously miscast monstrosity, The Golden Compass dumbed down and abbreviated this text almost beyond recognition, no doubt deterring a great number of potential readers from the books. I will never forgive anyone who was involved in its making and will be angry about it forever.
Frankly, I don’t care if you think I’m being dramatic; my rage at Weitz’s film will never be soothed. However, when it was announced that the BBC would be taking a whack at adapting the trilogy, I was a little more hopeful. A television series gives a story space to breathe, it gives concepts room to be explored, which is exactly what a plot as complex as Pullman’s requires if it is to stand any chance at translating well to screen.
A teaser trailer for the upcoming series, (starring Lin Manuel Miranda, James McAvoy, Dafne Keen and Ruth Wilson) has just been released, and I must say, it looks promising. While the 2007 version relied heavily on CGI, the novelty of a talking bear, (who is a very serious character, actually) and the dumbing down of the plot in an attempt to fit it into two hours, this version seems less preoccupied with rendering the text digestible, and more devoted to the unsettling, genuinely frightening, and intriguing energy of the book. In addition to this, Dafne Keen seems well-equipped to carry off the role of Lyra, having won Best Female Newcomer at this year’s Empire Awards for her role as Laura opposite Hugh Jackman in Logan. Keen and Jackman also won Best Duo at the MTV Movie & TV Awards and over the last two years, she has accumulated eight additional nominations for her roles in Logan and The Refugees. So in short, despite my unnecessarily strong feelings about the first adaptation, I am more than willing to be optimistic about BBC’s take on it.
Check out the trailer below and see if you can obsess as hard as I can!
Featured Image Via IGN.com