Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Koch Vision presents
Beyond The Golden Compass: The Magic of Philip Pullman (2007)

"All branches of the church have been responsible for the most extraordinary cruelty."
- Philip Pullman

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 19, 2007

Stars: Philip Pullman
Director: Jean-Pierre Isbouts

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:11m:19s
Release Date: November 20, 2007
UPC: 741952650799
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ BB-B- C+

DVD Review

With the spiffy, effects-heavy theatrical movie version of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass—the first in the wonderful His Dark Materials trilogy—due in December '07, there is no time like the present for Koch Vision to release this 71 minute made-for-British-television documentary about the book, the author, and the controversial meaning behind it all.

The first book (The Golden Compass, or Northern Lights if you're in the U.K.) came out in 1995, with the remaining two volumes in the trilogy (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) released in 1997 and 2000, respectively. It's the story of a young girl with a special gift, dangerous parallel worlds, a mysterious particle known as Dust, and ultimately a grand battle between good and evil. While the books—at least on the surface—appear to be typical fantasy fare ostensibly geared toward children, it doesn't take much reading to begin absorbing Pullman's apparent dislike and distrust of all things religious. His Dark Materials is a remarkably grim adventure—thrilling and inventive to be sure—and Pullman's subtext does seem to add a nice layer of alternative social commentary.

The analysis of that prickly subject—which is the underlying theme of Pullman's books—is also the focal point of Jean-Pierre Isbouts' documentary, allowing a few scholars/historians to expound on the deeper meaning of what means what. But what really gives some credence to Isbouts' doc is the presence of Pullman, who in interview snippets never once shies away from admitting freely how the book and his beliefs (or lack thereof) are closely intertwined. We're told by one expert that Pullman's trilogy is a "distillation of all that he hates," which seems perhaps a little strong, regardless of how closely the book's evil organization the Magisterium resembles a certain powerful religious outfit that happens to rhyme with "Hatican."

The twists and variations between our real world versus that familiar-yet-different place that exists in Pullman's His Dark Materials series also get addressed by Isbouts, touching on the "word riddles" the author used to create entirely new everyday items. And as connecting points, we're given largely dialogue-based, soft focus reenactments of passages from the book, with actors portraying the principle characters while a narrator explains who they are and what their place is in the context of the books. These sidebars seem more like filler, because the real meat is all the talk of Pullman's sly tilt on organized religion, and especially how that all fits within a story geared toward children.

A few dry spots early on give way to a generally interesting discussion of the books' sometimes deceptively intricate themes, but I could have done without the attempts at portraying characters from the book with actors. I do pity the parents who may pick this up for their youngsters based solely on the cover art as a possible feature film tie-in, only to find a serious dissertation on Pullman's writings.

It should be noted that this is in no way tied to the new feature film, and does not include any footage, trailers, etc.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Koch Vision has issued Jean-Pierre Isbouts' doc in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. There's a fair amount of very light grain in spots, and edges tend to appear rather soft. Colors and fleshtones are pleasant and natural, though the overall is palette is fairly reserved. No major blemishes or dirt present on an otherwise ordinary transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Not an especially robust mix, but generally clean, with no issues in voice clarity. The segments with Pullman appear to have been recorded poorly, with a significant hiss evident.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Secrets of Angels, Demons & Masons, The Lost Tomb Of Jesus
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Bonus material includes an extended Interview With Philip Pullman (06m:04s), where the author responds to narration-free text questions. The format is a little clunky, and the hiss during Pullman's segments is pretty notable, but the content is interesting, brief as it is. He doesn't get to expound at great length, but of all the participants in this doc he's obviously the most relevant.

On a slightly windier and/or esoteric side, there's The Scholars Debate (16m:18s), where the three principle historians from the main doc further elaborate on things like what exactly the character of Lyra represents. It's a bit heavy, and full of much educated theorizing, and comes off more like a collection of leftover footage than anything else. Philip Pullman's Oxford (14m:57s) trots the sacred grounds of Oxford, offering up remembrances of Pullman's time there, whileDirector's Comments (24m:46s) features self-described "filmmaker, archeologist, art historian, [and] professor of media studies" Jean-Pierre Isbouts speaking over a series of still photos related to the production. The portions that feature the influential artwork that inspired Pullman ranks high, while the discussion of where the rest of the documentary was shot, not so much.

The disc is cut into 12 chapters.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

There's much to discuss about Pullman and his brilliant His Dark Materials series, and its bold take on organized religion presented as a story for children. The author himself chimes in, as do a number of historians, all looking for and explaining the hidden meanings in books that are far too good to be "just for kids."

A little uneven in its presentation, but it did make me want to read the books all over again.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store