The Golden Compass
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Golden Compass can be found here

Yes. Compass is based on Northern Lights (1995), published as The Golden Compass in the U.S., the first novel in British writer Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. It was adapted for the movie by screenwriter and director Chris Weitz. The other two books in the trilogy are The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000).

In Britain, the film is also called The Golden Compass; however the end credits refer to the source novel as Northern Lights. According to author Philip Pullman, the title The Golden Compass came about when he was deciding what to name his trilogy. He came across a passage by John Milton referring to "golden compasses" as in instruments used to draw perfect circles. Ultimately, he ended up calling the trilogy "His Dark Materials" based on another passage by Milton, and named the first book Northern Lights. However, the American publishers heard about the term "golden compass," mistaking it for a reference to the alethiometer, and insisted on using it as the title of the first book. Said Pullman: "Meanwhile, back in the USA, the publishers had become so attached to The Golden Compass that nothing I could say could persuade them to call the book Northern Lights. Their obduracy in this matter was accompanied by such generosity in the matter of royalty advances, flattery, promises of publicity, etc, that I thought it would be churlish to deny them this small pleasure." For more information about The Golden Compass versus Northern Lights, see here.

Most of these are dmons, the physical manifestation of one's soul in an animal form. Everyone in Lyra's world has a dmon. Armoured bears such as Iorek Byrnison are also able to talk, though they're autonomous beings, not dmons.

Philip Pullman, author of the original novel, himself hand-picked Nicole Kidman for the part of Marisa Coulter, according to an interview with him. He decided on the part based on acting ability, rather than hair colour. Her hair may have been left light (rather than black as in the book) to provide a stronger contrast to Serafina Pekkala's appearance. In an interview Philip Pullman has said that he much prefers Mrs. Coulter played as blonde and that the change (implied as a suggestion from Kidman) made him realize that Mrs. Coulter "had to be blonde." Here are Pullman's thoughts on the subject as reported by Robert Butler: '"From a very early stage I was keen on promoting the idea of Mrs Coulter being played by Nicole Kidman." Mrs Coulter is the elegant, icy villainess, who adopts the heroine. One performance of Kidman's made him want her for the role: ""To Die For', where she plays the weather girl who's murderously working her way up the corporate ladder." Kidman has made one notable change to the character. "I'd described Mrs Coulter's hair as black. I was clearly wrong. You sometimes are wrong about your characters. She's blonde. She has to be." He is full of praise for Kidman's blonde incarnation (pictured below). "When she raises an eyebrow, the temperature in the room drops by ten degrees."' The entire interview can be found here.

Officially, Chris Weitz is credited as the sole director. Weitz did initially direct this film. In December 2004 he left the project, lacking confidence that he could handle such a major CGI-heavy production. He was replaced by Anand Tucker who, in turn, left in early 2006 due to creative differences with the studio. Weitz then returned to complete the project; he felt more confident about the screenplay being technically feasible with so much work already having been done, and he wanted to make sure that the film was finished.

Where is the ending?

The events which comprise the final portion of the first book were filmed, and brief portions can be glimpsed in the trailers. The video game of the film and much of the supporting merchandise retains the original running order and ending of the book. The video game even includes a film clip of Lyra's reunion with Lord Asriel. However, the scenes were subsequently removed from the movie and the Svalbard and Bolvangar sections reordered after test screenings. "There was tremendous marketing pressure for that," Weitz has been quoted as saying. "Everyone really wanted an upbeat ending." These scenes will be the first portion of the sequel, The Subtle Knife, if/when that movie is made.

At the end, we hear the growl of a bear.

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