Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lyra Cast In "His Dark Materials"

Philip Pullman's brilliant trilogy "His Dark Materials" is a landmark work of fantasy that will rank one day alongside "The Lord of the Rings" and the far lesser "Narnia" books as an enduring work of fiction. A reworking of "Paradise Lost," it's also a stunningly bold and adult tale -- basically think of it as the fantasy equivalent of "The Satanic Verses," especially if you're touchy on issues of organized religion and sexuality. The three books were adapted into a reportedly marvelous stage play and now they're being filmed as a movie. The first book -- "The Golden Compass" -- starts filming in the fall and the absolutely crucial role of Lyra (a 12 year old girl who takes center stage for most of the story) has just been cast. They don't seem to be filming all three movies at once, which could be a problem: the three books follow one after the other in time and little girls grow fast. Besides, the first book doesn't end so much as stop so you wouldn't want to wait long for the sequel. It's one long tale, a la LOTR as opposed to three connnected adventures. If you haven't read the books and are a fantasy fan, jump on them. The first is disarmingly simple, but it all pays off in the end.

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