The story begins with a girl hiding in a wardrobe. It continues with a series of adventures in which the girl passes through gateways into other worlds, meeting witches, figures from ancient mythology, and talking animals along the way. Ultimately, it takes her into the afterlife and to an apocalyptic battle between supernatural powers.

Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, has some striking parallels to C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. Between protective beasts, snowy landscapes, and references to a prophecy only the girl may be able to fulfill, the ads for The Golden Compass—the first installment of Pullman's series coming to the big screen on December 7—look made to attract fans of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. New Line Cinema has also gone out of its way to link the new film to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which the studio also adapted.

But His Dark Materials presents a strikingly different kind of tale from the ones told by Lewis and Tolkien; on a certain level, it even opposes them. Pullman, writing in The Guardian on the occasion of Lewis's centenary in 1998, said the Narnia books are "one of the most ugly and poisonous things I have ever read," with "no shortage of … nauseating drivel." Peter Hitchens, writing in The Spectator in 2003, named Pullman "the Anti-Lewis."

While Lewis and Tolkien wrote stories imbued with Christian imagery, Pullman's trilogy—which has sold millions of copies and won numerous literary awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Prize—depicts the death of God and the creation of a "Republic of Heaven" that has no need for a King. And while Lewis and Tolkien kept the Christian elements fairly subtle—even the Narnia books ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current Issue
Gleanings: June 2017 Subscriber Access Only
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our June issue).
Also in this Issue
An Incomplete Reconciliation Subscriber Access Only
Jan Karon's latest contains all her traditional charms but misses an opportunity.
Current IssueWhy the Modern World Is Making Us Miserable
Why the Modern World Is Making Us Miserable Subscriber Access Only
Mark Sayers asks us to look to the Bible’s steadying influence in an era of cultural turmoil.
RecommendedIn ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
In ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
Pure Flix's adaptation of the apologetics classic succeeds most where it preaches least.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
The Chronicles of Atheism
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

November 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.