Dear Nicole

Having read Northern Lights, the first instalment of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, I am – or was – keenly looking forward to the forthcoming film adaptation, The Golden Compass (after its US title), starring, as it does, an actress I particularly admire. Not only are you incredibly talented and beautiful, but you have dared to take on challenging roles – often quite brilliantly; but also, when you have chosen unwisely, sometimes (not always) carried and made passable an otherwise bad film.

However, I am dismayed. According to news reports I’ve read (which, of course, may be off message), the anti-religion sentiment in Pullman’s novel is to be toned down, apparently to prevent offence to the (Catholic) faithful, whose sensitivity to attacks on their beliefs may prevent them shelling out their coffers to go and see the film. In other words, to ensure the return on an expensive production will be maximised.

This is, I suppose, understandable; although it is interesting, don’t you think, how controversy is avoided when box-office profit is the motive, but invoked when a worldview requires publicising? So, I wonder, what is the real motive behind your own recently voiced opinions on the matter? You were raised a Catholic, and describe the Church as part of your ‘essence’. Further, you claim you would not have made the film if you deemed it at all anti-Catholic. Dear oh dear, Nicole. Should I need to point out a degree of hypocrisy here? Where was your Catholic morality when you disrobed in films such as Eyes Wide Shut, To Die For, or Dead Calm? But, of course, nudity sells cinema tickets. And I guess your contract obliges you to promote the film and so talk down any religious ‘problem’.

Nicole, I couldn’t give a stuff about your religious beliefs! Neither, I think, could the vast majority of cinema-goers. As you, the daughter of a scientist, well know, these are all works of fiction. But, as I’m sure you’re also aware, a satirical element often renders fiction more relevant, more worthwhile, more important. What are you worried about? What is it you fear? We accept the extensive body of pro-religious cinema – and why not? Some of it is wonderful (they are fantastic stories). So why should there be a problem when cinema makes some kind of anti-religious statement?

Stick to what you do best and don’t patronise your fans. Leave that to the Church.

Yours etc,

P.S. Can we meet to discuss this?


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