Series Reviews

Review | His Dark Materials – Season 1

Adaptation produced by HBO inspired by the books of the "Frontiers of the Universe" saga by Philip Pullman manages to hit the depths when approaching delicate themes and in the choice of its protagonist


Back in 2007, the controversial The Golden Compass, the first film of a supposed trilogy based on the work of Philip Pullman. Despite the beautiful scenery, interesting effects and talking animals, the film did not win the critics and the box office, causing the financial return not to correspond to expectations. Unfortunately, the big screen adaptation failed to prove itself and have its sequels. After all, the plot has divergences that were glaring and kind of distorts what is portrayed in the original work. The fact is that years later, in 2019, the adaptation of Pullman's work arrived for the small screen and the result of this first season mixes good effects, a good cast, quality fantasy and a story with depth.

Until aesthetically it was not so bad / Reproduction

in the first season of His Dark Materials, a British co-production between BBC and the HBO, we know the universe of Lyra Belacqua, inhabited by daemons, creatures that "personify" the soul of their owners, in addition to meeting talking bears, witches and a great conspiracy involving politics, religion and a lot of corruption. The plot follows the young Lyra (Dafne Keen), an orphan girl who leaves Jordan College, where she grew up, to look for a missing friend, mysteriously kidnapped along with other children. In the course of her journey, she enlists the help of a people known as gyptians, an armored bear, witches and the aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda), but also faces a troubled relationship with her mysterious uncle Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) and the dubious and cynical Marisa Coulter (Ruth Wilson).

The universe that is presented to us is not that different, except for the existence of daemons which is characterized as an animal that periodically changes shape (until it settles into a single species) and is linked to a human being as part of its soul. – this bond is so powerful that they cannot separate and what one feels impacts the other, that is, if one dies, the other also dies. Another very important detail that raises fervent debates in the plot is the existence of “Dust”, which is a substance that, in addition to being feared, is very coveted. According to the plot, the substance settles in humans at puberty falling from the sky and arouses curiosity, fears and conflicts in that society and, therefore, is one of those responsible for the conflict between those who see it as the possibility of gaining more knowledge and freedom and others who attack it as a symbol of sin.

All these fanciful elements connect with our reality, as they promote warm and interesting debates about the role of religion in our lives, the configuration of our society, how politics operates in this fictional universe and how similar it is to the reality we live and live in. the real role of the human being when faced with "truths" that can be debated and questioned as young Lyra or even Lord Asriel himself question certain themes throughout the plot.

Ruth Wilson is a villain with a personality and an interesting arc / Reproduction HBO and BBC

From the compilation of previously mentioned themes, the series builds a plot rich in many details and becomes a narrative that manages to develop without falling in quality. The script is so well tied that it knew how to explore politics, magic, science, religion and philosophy in a coherent way within the created universe and each aspect addressed is transmitted by figures such as the Magisterium, which is the institution of authoritarian power that oppresses the population and prohibits reflections. over the Dust for considering them acts of heresy. If we even pay attention to the knowledge that is taught at Jordan College and Lord Asriel's private research that challenges the status quo suffers from the coercive onslaughts of the Magisterium. Another important detail is the fantastic dimension that we see as witches and talking bears with similar rivalries with humans. 

The first season of His Dark Materials leaves some loose ends to be expanded upon in season two. With this, we can carefully observe another arc in a reality that is totally parallel to the world in which Lyra is portrayed. This other parallel situation involves the boy Will, who has a lot to develop since his trajectory was for a long time little connected to Lyra's journey: he is lonely at school and has a missing/dead father, apparently also involved in similar projects. to those of Asriel and a mother with psychological disorders who needs his care and because of these difficulties, he seems to be in a very distant segment of the central narrative, but that gains an unexpected breath in the last episode, implying that he has a great mission to come. . Other issues that do not go unnoticed are youth innocence in the face of danger, intergenerational conflict and maturation. Despite the mishaps seen throughout the series, it is possible to see a very fanciful adventure and a lot of mystery surrounding what happens to the kidnapped children.

Here the exceptional work seen in photography and production aesthetics is beautiful. The special effects in the right measure and with great dexterity make it another attraction to be watched. Remembering that the path that the girl follows includes crossing spaces with easily recognizable characteristics and owners of very peculiar identities, such as the oppressive grandeur of the Magisterium's spacious halls, the restrained and formal elegance of Jordan College with its rooms full of books and research, the home of the gyptians in vessels in the seas, the coastal city close to the North and the icy north region itself and under the lights of the Aurora Borealis that are spectacles apart. Couldn't forget the interactions with the daemons. The effects are so wonderfully done that the creatures don't look like they were created artificially. 

Dafne Keen, Logan's standout, shines as Lyra / Reproduction HBO and BBC

The cast of His Dark Materials it's interesting and manages to convey the emotions its characters are feeling. the young woman Dafne Keen gives us a Lyra as an impetuous young woman, always ready for adventures who uses her perfect lip to get what she wants, very brave and smart. One of your best performances. It contrasts very well with Ruth Wilson embodying a dubious, cynical, underhanded and somewhat disturbed Marisa Coulter. She is a villain who is on the evil side of the force, but her every act is justified and she carries a very heavy load. He is a character that gains dimension throughout the work and James McAvoy like a mysterious and persistent Lord Asriel, always harsh and thick. Both portraying individuals who seek to mask their feelings for the sake of the pragmatic goals of their lives and work - they go so far as to give up emotional relationships because they seem insignificant in the face of the achievements they deem so necessary for society.

Another actor who plays a great role is James Cosmo in the role of Farder Coram. At first glance, he is a figure like a mentor who represents a stage of Lyra's journey, but little by little his story - especially his past with Serafina Pekkala - is being told and showing us a much more tragic side of a character who represents a minority people. The actors behind the animated creatures such as Iorek Byrnison, the bear in armor who becomes one of the main allies of the protagonist, is lived brilliantly by Joe Tandberg, while Pantalaimon, the adorable and inseparable daemon of Lyra, passes all the “cuteness” of the character through the voice of Connor Kit. Both characters were created with impeccable digital effects.

The first season of His Dark Materials It has the potential to be a great series. The cast is incredible, the effects of impeccable quality, the script well tied and coherent make the result on screen more than satisfactory. Fortunately, the bitter taste of the adaptation of “The Golden Compass“ will be taken away. The new approach brings him closer to the original work and he knew how to dare through the mix of fun, adventures and serious themes, making the viewer reflect as well as being entertained.

Thunder Wave note
What is expected is that the quality seen in the first season is reflected in the other sequels so that they are indeed similar adaptations to the Pullman trilogy. It's very interesting to see how the approach to topics such as politics and religion comes with an acid and critical footprint, even though it's a franchise aimed at a younger audience. In its first season, the series proved that it can do this very deftly by creating a fantastical universe that discusses real problems without being boring or frivolous. His Dark Materials is a great bet precisely because it is different from anything we see on television today. Positive point for the work that knew how to explore the limits of human evil and the dangers of theocracy.critique-his-dark-materials-1a-season



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exit mobile version