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The Compass and the Hockey Stick

WATCH this YouTube video last and you will see what I mean by my end, and how it feeds the REBEL in YOU.

Why I have reviewed two films – The Golden Compass and St Trinian’s and their connections to each other.

The Golden Compass was a must see film for me. Set in the City of Oxford of which I love and have lived, its trailers showed a lavish set, exciting drama and strong cast. It was the film for Christmas and the added attraction was the plot’s theme – regarded as anti-religious, particularly towards the Catholic church.

Based on Philip Pullman’s (an atheist) Northern Lights novel, it is a tale of wonder and adventure.Lyra(Dakola Blue Richards) an orphan, lived at Jordan college in an Oxford of a parallel universe.  The focus of the film centered around a Golden Compass, called a alethiometer which when asked questions told the truth. Only Lyra could read the instrument, of which only one was left.  The rest had been destroyed by the Magisterium- a sinister religious body which controlled Lyra’s world.

The Magisterium wanted to prevent the world knowing that a substance called dust existed, which connected parallel worlds and universe’s to each other. This institution did not want its subjects to think and question its authority, or undermine it and what it taught: that no other life existed other than that world. I have already questioned my own christian faith with reference to their being alternative life forms on other planets.Lord Astral(Daniel Craig) wanted to study the dust and what it represented but the Magisterium wanted to stop this study. Nicole Kidman who played Mrs Coulter also represented the Magisterium, and as ever played a convincing and strong part, as a cunning and devious women wanting to find and own the Compass. For a full synopsis of the film click here.

So why am I writing a review about this film and then comparing it to another film, seen later in the week ,which was St Trinain’s? I made some very interesting discoveries and comparisons, similarities between the two of which is the purpose of discussion in this blog. My other surprise was in-spite of wanting to eagerly see the first, and having to be gently dragged along by my daughter to see the later film; I actually enjoyed seeing the second film much more and came away feeling more alive and inspired by the second rather than the first.

There was something very disturbing about the first film which made me think deeply. Also in the Compass was the presence of a Daemon (every person possessed one), a physical representation of the soul in human form. The Magisterium wanted to cut the connection between this creature and humans before a child became an adult. It reminded me of the conditions and straight-jacketed conformity of my own childhood and the non-liberalization of my own soul. Conditioned not to challenge authority, nor to break rules; just like in Lyra’s world, children were taught to behave and be good. I too was always good -never naughty and this has carried on into my adult life. Never to think radically or have a wanton spirit.

I came away from the film thinking, but also very flat. The story line of the film seemed to have very little of a rich plot:unlike C.S lewis’ Narnia – now that is a story of genius. The extravagance of the sets hid to me a flat and dull story-line. No criticism is intended of the book, which I have not read, but it was the same for me with the DaVinci Code. Now that book was riveting, yet the film did not live up to the book at all for me personally.

Now St Trinian’s was altogether a different matter. The plot griped me straight away. It smashed through right at the start any hint that this film was about rules and regulations. Another star packed cast with excellent acting, St Trinian’s was predictably all about the unruly wild ways of a mad girl’s school with an ex-centric head mistress – Miss Fritton (Rupert Everett). If there was any suggestion of an establishment then it was portrayed as Education Minister -Geoffrey Thwaites(Colin Firth) of whom I have fancied like crazy since seeing him in Pride and Prejudice,and that famous water scene.

My tiredness of a hard working day was swept away as the howls of laughter and “hanging on to your seat” stuff circled the auditorium while the plot intensified. This was a school near bankruptcy and the plan was to gain a final place in a School challenge, (Stephen Fry, no less was the quiz master), televised in the National Gallery, London, of which Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earing”was on display.  The painting was to be stolen in an ingenious plan, involving daring and precision team work by the pupils; helped along by Flash Harry (Russell Brand). He was later to sell a phony painted by Miss Fritton-she had a talent for painting, and then the school claimed to have found the original painting and return to the gallery un-damaged.

 What I loved about this, was that while extreme naughtiness took place, no-one really got hurt and a moral sense of good prevailed in the end: with the return of the painting and the school clearing its debts. I went to the cinema half asleep and came out feeling a sense of warm glow and excitement:

 “I want to be a rebel too feeling.” took hold in my mind.

Knowing then what my next blog was going to be about, I thought more about how different, yet how similar the films were. The compass displayed a constrained, serious tale of the fight for free-thinking and rebellion against an institution determined to stifle creative thought and spontaneous will and actions. St Trinian’s was a riot of expression, busy and loud announcing to all that being different was cool and breaking rules was acceptable; providing no-one got hurt. You could dress up as a chav or a Goth and it did not matter how you looked, it was the iron will of the inside, the free spirit, daring and tenacious that won the day.To challenge rules and regulations, and that doing something silly could be extremely fun and character building.

How then can I start to apply some of this in my own life? Well, for certain I can not outwardly go about my professional business in huge gold hoop earrings or looking like a mad hair day. Nor do I wear clothes in a provocative way or attempt to steal priceless paintings from museums on high rise rope pulleys. I will not be blowing up the sheds where I work either: that would not push my buttons anyway. But what would be thrilling is to start challenging old belief systems and some of my values; censored with narrow thinking which is limiting. To do this, one example would be for me, to read other people’s views and values and to start taking actions which may not be in the “norm” for me. There is much change and learning ahead.

For now, doing something a little more daring starts here. But for that you will have to wait until my next blog.

Keep Watching! And now do watch the video link. I am sure you will love it!



Committed to the education of children and the health and human rights of women and mankind. I also enjoy taking photographs and sometimes I write poetry.

2 thoughts on “The Compass and the Hockey Stick

  1. I enjoyed learning about the two films, though I haven’t seen either. I will make a point of watching them when they come on TV. I am an admirer of Nicole Kidman and a regular visitor to the National Gallery, so there will be additional interest.

    It was interesting too to read that you had the same reaction to the DaVinci Code as I did. On the strength of that one book I went out and bought and read everything Dan Brown had written, but the film seemed a flop. I haven’t read any Pullman, though I have heard that the film inevitably lacks the complex texture of the books. From what you have described about the Magisterium, it is easy to see why some of ‘my old friends’ in the faith community have been getting their proverbials in a twist! And perhaps you can now understand more why some of my blogs about the mindless restrictions that some people endure have been so passionate.

    I am relieved (and sad?) that you will not be wearing gold hoop earings, having outrageous hair, dressing provocatively, or stealing paintings – however, I am intrigued as to what might materialize in the future. 🙂

    P.S. Congratulations on getting the link thing sorted, especially the video link.
    P.P.S. If you haven’t seen the film The Girl with the Pearl Earing, it is really very good.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement and hope you looked at the video, which I thought was great. I was really thrilled to beable to add it. Thank you once again for your help on the links.I have really enjoyed writing this and hope I may beable to live up to the expectation of what I have set myself up for.

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