Tag Archives: The Golden Compass film

Philip Pullman x 2

He doesn’t do many events these days, but not even Philip Pullman can say no to Carol Ann Duffy. That’s why we could all pile into the large lecture theatre at MMU to hear him talk about, well, stuff. And a little Dust, although we were left fairly much in the dark about it. Literally too, until someone finally switched on all the lights, and stopped switching them off again. (James!)

Sherry Ashworth and Philip Pullman

Sherry Ashworth acted the fan-struck moderator who wanted to know what most of us wanted to know. It’s reassuring that even Philip first read and loved Noddy, almost like a normal small person. He loved Arthur Ransome’s books, but not the awful illustrations, and he read Moomin, whose creator Tove Jansson was a real artist. The sex in the Alexandria Quartet made him want to grow up to be just like the characters in the books.

Philip enjoys being a ‘totalitarian’ when he writes. ‘I kill people, I bring them back to life, and I like it.’ Whereas when people read, they can read as they like, with no one seeing into their heads. Writing books, and persuading readers they want to read them, should be like sitting in the market, telling a story. People can stop and listen if they want, and they can pay a little, if they think it’s good.

Philip Pullman

There is a Lyra in every school class, and it’s love that Lyra does best. What Philip does, or so he says, is write three pages of Dust every day. He maintains there will be a book, eventually.

But one of the things that kept him from Dust was the archbishop’s challenge to write about Jesus, so that’s what he did. Philip said he thinks about God all the time. He also had to write the two short books set in Lyra’s world. (So that sort of explains the last six years, then?)

While Philip took a break, Sherry collected questions from the audience. It was a surprisingly young audience for an author who appeals as much to adults.

Pullman fan with books

He reckons his parents were mainly surprised that their dreamy son got a book published, but he is sad they didn’t live to see his real success. His advice to get published is to write a good book, and not to plan too much. He planned his second novel so carefully he got bored and had to write something else instead.

The armoured bears came as a surprise when he was writing Northern Lights, and he feels that if you’re writing things at school, you should write first and plan after. That way the two will agree and you will get much better marks. Philip doesn’t believe in writer’s block, and says you have to sit at your desk, because that’s where the ideas will come, and if you’re not there you will miss them.

His reasons for writing are to earn money, and because it’s therapeutic. It becomes a habit, it’s fun when all goes well and he likes getting language right. (Who or whom?) Page 70 is always the hard one, and he once gave up reading a book after two words. (That was the Booker winner.) Don’t start with a pronoun, or you’ll drive Mr Pullman crazy, and steer clear of the present tense. He loves The Magic Pudding and has re-read it many times.

When asked how he feels the Golden Compass film could be improved on, he suggested it would have been a good idea to put in the scenes actually filmed but not used. He’d also have preferred the real ending, instead of a resolution coupled with a cliffhanger. By now Dakota is too old and Daniel Craig too expensive.

Philip Pullman

Thursday evening finished with a signing in the next room, and it was good to see the stampede as the audience tried to get there first.

We didn’t need to, because we had our own appointment with Philip on Friday morning. We ran a little late in the downpour, with our train deciding to sit just outside the station for ten minutes. But Philip had checked out, and sat in the Midland’s lounge when we arrived, so all was well.

Philip Pullman

Greetings from shared friends were exchanged, and we reminisced about our last interview in Gothenburg seven years ago (and still no Book of Dust!). We did talk Dust a little, but you’ll have to wait to read what Philip said. There is another book that has sneaked in, and we talked about the various campaigns he’s involved in, and many other things. The advantage of doing it this way round is that we could concentrate on what wasn’t mentioned the night before.

Philip worried a bit about the possible cost of the tap water we had ordered, but I suggested he make a run for it, so he left to catch his train south through the floods. We stayed on, nursing our iced water for a while, reluctant to go back out into all that other water.

Movie companion

I wouldn’t normally have any interest in a movie companion (and I don’t mean the human variety eating pop corn in the seat next to me), however official and illustrated it may be. But as with all things Pullman, I found it very easy to make an exception for The Golden Compass Official Illustrated Movie Companion.

This companion could take the place of several magazine articles of the best kind, about a favourite subject. And you get the stills from the film, and photos of things and people to do with the filming. With a book you have time to look at and appreciate it properly.

And there’s lots more on the technical background to the film. Everyone involved with the making of the film gets their say, and for someone like me who doesn’t know that much about film making, it’s quite interesting in a general way, too.

Just as with the film itself, the photos are beautiful, and as far as clothes are concerned, they “stand still” so you can admire them.

Nicole Kidman gives me the creeps, which is as it should be, and I still feel I want to be Serafina Pekkala in my next life.

Playing games

Bored? Try a board game. There is a new one out to coincide with The Golden Compass film, naturally. We tried it last night and it seems to work. Can’t claim to have understood it all after so little time, but I think even I could get more of a hang of it after a few more test runs.

It’s called The Board Game of The Golden Compass, not surprisingly, and is made by Sophisticated Games. What I liked most was the total absence of dice. I don’t know why all games have to have them. Here we had an arrow to twirl round the alethiometer. There are many things to keep in the air at one time, but once you work out what is most advantageous to do, it should be possible to plot to win. As usual the Resident IT Consultant won, so we’ll ban him from further playing.

What you can find with your breakfast cereal

Iorek Byrnison, that’s what (who). The imminent (sort of) film of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials seems to cause all kinds of “free” merchandise to appear. Daughter’s Shreddies provided us with three copies of a book about Lyra’s meeting with Iorek, a favourite with witches other than Philip’s.

It’s not bad, as these things go. Fairly far removed from HDM, but us cynics expect that. Nicely written and would at least tempt me to see the film, if I didn’t already want to do so. It also gives a taster of how things have changed in the film, which again is only to be expected. I hope this freebie will find a whole new fan base for HDM and Pullman books in general.

This witch is off to Oxford, again, with the nerdy Son in tow. We have tickets for Philip’s fundraising event for the Pegasus theatre. Will let you know how it goes.