BBC released their first teaser to the upcoming fantasy mini-series His Dark Materials, based on Philip Pullman’s trilogy of the same name. Lin-Manuel Miranda was one of the first actors to sign onto the project last March; he stars as one of the good guys, a hot air balloon pilot named Lee Scoresby who helps child protagonist Lyra Belacqua (played by Logan’s mini-Wolverine Dafne Keen Fernández) along her dangerous quest to find her kidnapped friend. Lyra’s quest leads her down a rabbit hole of literal soul-searching, parallel universes, and dark motives from a powerful Church called the Magisterium who seek to destroy independent thought.
— His Dark Materials (@darkmaterials) February 24, 2019
The miniseries also has on board James McEvoy as Lord Asriel, Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter, and Clarke Peters as Dr. Carne. With its strong cast, its recent backing from HBO as both a co-producer and distributor of the series, and author Pullman on board as an executive producer, HDM is sure to be one of the most talked about shows of the year. The series has already been picked up for a second season.
Stirring up Controversy with Critique of Catholic Church
The premiere of HDM is sure to attract controversy for its portrayal of organized religion. The Church in Pullman’s universe is closely based on the Catholic Church, a likeness that has landed this trilogy on the American Library Association’s frequently banned books list for over a decade now. Pullman himself is openly critical of organized religion and how much influence it has over an individual’s choices when they are living in a society that considers disobedience heretical. “Religion is not the problem, not really,” explained a piece in the New Republic that discussed his work. “[Rather,] it’s the way power is concentrated, then wielded against the vulnerable.”
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Pullman’s young adult trilogy was first published between 1995 and 2000; it stayed more or less under the radar of religious critics who were appalled at its anti-religion themes until the first book in the series, “The Golden Compass,” was adapted into a full-length box-office flop in 2007. Film critics have suggested that the movie failed, in part, because of how the producers had drained the story of its anti-church, anti-authority message in order to make the movie more palatable to a wide American audience.
His Dark Materials is set to air on HBO sometime this year.