Interview with Chris Weitz gives truth on His Dark Materials

DarkMaterials.jpgI popped by a friends house in the northern reaches of Scotland at the weekend and happened upon a copy of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights. I quickly asked him what he thought of the story of proposed butchery that we had previously posted quoting from the BBC, and I was quite surprised at the answer.

The BBC have it all wrong, the cornerstone of news reporting has yet again been misquoting and blowing out of all proportion, so it was with much humble pie that I was corrected. Apparently Chris Weitz, while he was still both Screenwriter and Director for the films, approached the main fan site for these popular novels to give an interview before madness ensued at the thought of the adaptation. Seems it slightly backfired, however my friend passed me the site and I’ve read through the interview.

It’s a very good interview, and Weitz is clear and quite open, by no means did it make me think that what had been said about the removal of the religious aspects of the plot was incorrect, merely lacking a lot of surrounding words of comfort.

Weitz talks of the fact that he has sat down with Pullman and they both discussed the need to rework the religious tones and ensure that religious groups do not take offense.

First let me say that I have visited with Pullman and spoken with him about this subject at great length. His feeling, and I say this with absolute certainty that I am not unfairly paraphrasing him, is that the “Authority” in question could represent any arbitrary establishment that curtails the freedom of the individual, whether it be religious, political, totalitarian, fundamentalist, communist, what have you. This gives me a certain amount of leeway in navigating the very treacherous issues that beset adapting HDM for the screen.

I’ll quote these in whole so that there’s no ambiguity, but please do go and read the original interview.

New Line is a company that makes films for economic returns. You would hardly expect them to be anything else. They have expressed worry about the possibility of HDM√¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s perceived antireligiosity making it an unviable project financially. My job is to get the film made in such a way that the spirit of the piece is carried through to the screen, and to do that I must contend not only with the difficulties of the material but with the fears of the studio. Needless to say, all my best efforts will be directed towards keeping HDM as liberating and iconoclastic an experience as I can. But there may be some modification of terms. You will probably not hear of the “Church” but you will hear of the Magisterium. Those who will understand will understand. I have no desire to change the nature or intentions of the villains of the piece, but they may appear in more subtle guises.

So yes, the religious aspects are going to be altered, I may not totally agree with it, but in my discussion of censorship and rewriting my definition concerns the creators right to do with the work as they see fit, and in this case it’s very clear Pullman is at the front of these alterations. All that aside, it certainly does look like Weitz is a big fan and is taking care and time to transfer the work to the big screen.

Now, on the recommendation of Dave (thanks for the link) I think I shall make that my next read.

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