His Dark Materials is a fantasy drama television series based on the trilogy of novels of the same name by British author Philip Pullman.
The story is set in an alternative world where all humans’ souls manifest as animal companions called daemons and follows the life of a young orphan girl named Lyra who is living at Jordan College, Oxford, in a world governed by the Magisterium, a religious and political body. Lyra is said to be the subject of a witches’ prophecy that she will change the world. In her search for a missing friend, she uncovers a series of secrets that link to a mysterious substance called Dust, and meets a young boy named Will. Fate leads them both on a journey of epic proportions and ultimately to other worlds.
ABOUT THE EDITS
While the series captures the essence of the beautiful themes and rich characters of Philp Pullman’s novels pretty well, enhancing them with gorgeous imagery and well-composed music, Ι find that pacing was a big issue throughout the episodes.
In my edits I intend to restructure some of the key plotlines and character moments throughout a series of films, while keeping some of the greatest parts of the series and removing some of the parts that in my opinion didn’t work so well.
His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass
Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes
Τhe first film includes Episodes 1-3 of Series 1 and focuses on introducing the world, establishing the characters and exploring the relationship between humans and deamons. This film covers mainly Lyra’s life in Jordan College and London and the Gyptian’s attempts to find their missing children.
PLOT AND CHANGES
PART ONE: LYRA’S JORDAN
- The film starts with Lord Asriel delivering baby Lyra to Jordan College during the Flood.
Note: The text in the beginning of Episode 1 served only as an exposition tool, which I didn’t like, so I got rid of it. I think it is better for the viewers to discover this world of humans and deamons by themselves, as well as Lyra’s role in the events to come.
- Jump forward to Twelve Years Later where we follow Lyra, Pan and Roger in Jordan College. Lord Asriel visits Oxford to inform the scollars about his work, Lyra meets Mrs Coulter and the Gyptians organize the search for the missing children.
Note: Pretty much everything from Episode 1 is the same (including the opening credits where I added the “Golden Compass” subtitle) with some minor tweaks here and there.
PART TWO: THE GENERAL OBLATION BOARD
- The film then follows Lyra to London where she bonds with Mrs Coulter.
Note: I removed their visit to the Royal Arctic Institute, as well as every scene of them on the terrace.
- The Gyptians arrive at London as well to find the Gobblers’ lair where Roger and Billy once were. Lyra discovers Mrs Coulter’s unusual connection with her deamon and Lord Boreal searches Jordan College for clues about Dr Stanislaus Grumman before he crosses through the Window.
Note: This will be the only hint of the existance of other worlds in this or the next film. I just wanted to include the scene as teaser for the events in The Subtle Knife.
- Father MacPhail vistis Mrs Coulter and Lyra learns the truth about Lord Asriel. Farder Coram and John Faa inform Ma Costa about their failed mission and Lyra and Pan decide to break into Mrs Coulter’s office to discover what she is hiding.
Note: Lyra finds some documents about the General Oblation Board and the Station, but nothing about the machine that cuts “something”. The original scene gave up too much and I always thought it was weird that Lyra couldn’t connect the dots.
- At the party, Lyra learns the truth about the Gobblers and Mrs Coulter and escapes from the flat. The children are getting ready for the North and Lyra gets captured.
Note: We never learn what happens to the reporter at Mrs Coulter’s party, we just know that Boreal “took care of her”.
PART THREE: THE SPY
- Mrs Coulter goes to Jordan College where she learns about the Alethiometer that Lyra possess. Back in London, the Gyptians save Lyra and take her with them. Mrs Coulter is in destress and Lyra arrives at the Gyptians’ council.
Note: A huge chung of Episode 3 and Lyra’s time with the Gyptians has been removed. Lyra never learns that the Gyptians always knew about her father, the State Police invading Gyptains’ boats is only mentioned during the council and Ma Costa reveals the identity of Lyra’s mother way later in the film.
- Mrs Coulter sends her Spy-Flies to find Lyra and Tony with Benjamin break into Mrs Coulter’s apartment. Lyra finds out how the Alethiometer works and shares her secret with Farder Coram.
Tony arrives back at the camp where he tells everyone about Benjamin’s fate. Lyra runs away before Ma Costa reaches her and tells her about her origins. The Gyptians travel to Trollesund and the Spy-Fly returns to Mrs Coulter.
Note: I kept the identity of Lyra’s mother hidden until the end of the film to serve as the last big reveal that changes her point of view for the events to come.
His Dark Materials: Northern Lights
Runtime: 2 hours 34 minutes
The second film includes Episodes 4-8 of Series 1 and covers Lyra’s journey into the Far North.
The main story remains pretty much the same as presented in the series, except the complete removal of Boreal and Will Parry.
PLOT AND CHANGES
PART ONE: TROLLESUND
- The film starts with Lee Scoresby and the Gyptians arriving at Trollesund followed by the opening titles with the “Northern Lights” subtitle in the title card.
Farder Coram and Lyra visit the witches’ consul with the hope of contacting Serafina Pekkala. After his failed attempt to find his old friend Iorek, Lyra meets Lee and Serafina Pekkala’s deamon finds Farder Coram and John Faa to tell them about the location of the missing children. Meanwhile, Lee finally talks to Iorek.
Note: No conflict between Farder Coram and the witches’ consul about their mission, he and Lyra go straight to his basement where the consul tells them about Iorek Byrnison, but not where to find him. Lyra’s first encounter with Iorek is removed, as well as the whole backstory of Farder Coram with Serafina Pekkala.
Mrs Coulter’s plots with the Magisterium have also been removed.
- The next morning, Lyra learns about Iorek’s lost armour. She finds him and asks the Alethiometer where it is hidden. After regaining his armour, Iorek and Lee join the Gyptians’ mission. Mrs Coulter visits King Iofur Raknison on Svalbard and togehter they plot Asriel’s capture.
PART TWO: SOME SORT OF GHOST
- As the Gyptians travel North, John Faa asks Lyra to use her Alethiometer to learn more about Bolvangar. The Alethiometer also tells her about a ghost in a fishing village nearby. Lyra and Iorek travel there, where she finds Billy Costa.
Note: As the Alethiometer spins, I added a brief montage of Bolvangar and the village. Also, Lyra doesn’t report to Coram or Ma Costa about going there. One plothole that came up during the editing process is the fact that Lyra acts like she knows about her father being held by the bears when she talks to Iorek. I can only hope that it is implied that the Gyptians learned about it from Serafina Pekkala’s deamon and told Lyra.
PART THREE: BOLVANGAR
- After Billy’s funeral, some men enter the camp, capture Lyra and take her to Bolvangar. At the dining hall of the Station, Lyra sees Roger.
Note: The whole scene with Dr Cooper and Lyra at the Station has been removed and a voiceover of Lyra realizing that the place she is being taken to is Bolvangar has been added when she sneaks a peek out of her trap. In a voiceover later, when she is being escorted to the dining hall, she introduces herself as Lizzie Brooks.
- Lyra and Roger find the room with the cutoff deamons. The next day, Mrs Coulter arrives at the place while the Gyptians travel to save Lyra. At the dining hall, Lyra explains her plan to escape, before the doctors take her to the room with the cutting machine. There, Mrs Coulter finds her and takes her to her chambers. She tells her that she knows about the Alethiometer and Lyra escapes once more, initiating her escaping plan. The Gyptians arrive at the Station, save Lyra and the children, while Mrs Coulter is hiding from the fight.
Note: Not much have been changed here storywise. A scene with Dr Cooper and Dr Rendal has been removed, as well as the scene of Ma Costa killing a guard durig the fight. Also, I removed the scene of Mrs Coulter killing the nurse after the battle.
PART FOUR: KING OF THE BEARS
- Lyra, Roger and Iorek travel out of the Station with Lee’s balloon. On the ground, the Gyptians sort out the severed children as they continue on their way back to Brytain. The same night, the balloon is attacked by Cliff-ghasts and during the fight Lyra falls off the balloon. When she wakes up, Lyra is being taken to King Iofur Raknison’s palace, where she meets a prisoner who tells her that her father has taken Iofur with his side. Lyra meets Iofur and persuades him to challenge Iorek into a fight. Iorek arrives at the palace and kills Iofur, taking his place as the King. Later, Lyra rejoins Roger and she decides to take the Alethiometer back to her father. Mrs Coulter learns that Asriel is continuing his experiments in his laboratory and she prepares an army. Lee is safe on the ground.
PART FIVE: THE TEAR IN THE SKY
- Lyra, Roger and Iorek arrive at Asriel’s house, where she tells him that she knows the truth about him. Later that night, when Roger is asleep, Arsiel explains to Lyra everything about Dust and his plans. Mrs Coulter and her troops arrive there as well, only to find nobody inside. Asriel has taken Roger and Lyra with Iorek and the rest of the bears follow them up the mountain, where the are being attacked by the Magisterium’s airships. Asriel opens a portal to another world, killing Roger, while Lyra is watching. Lyra mourns the death of her friend and decides to follow Asriel into the portal to learn more about Dust and why it is so important. As she enters the portal, a young boy in another world, Will, finds a window and they both travel to an unknown world.
Again the main events following Lyra are here. I removed completely Thorold, the first encounter of Asriel and Roger, Lyra and Roger talking before sleep and a scene between Mrs Coulter and MacPhail on the zeppelin. Will’s first appearance is right at the end of the film, where he finds the window. It is obvious by his clothes that he is from a different world and the police sirens inidcate that he is on the run. Anything important that we need to know about him is being reaveled in the next film.
His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife
Runtime: 2 hour 54 minutes
Unlike the previous films, this one covers the entirety of Series 2.
The film follows Lyra in a new world, Mrs Coulter’s attempts to find her, Lee’s journey and the war between the Witches and the Magisterium. We also meet Will Parry for the first time.
PLOT AND CHANGES
- The film starts with Episode 4’s narration of the history of the city of Cittàgazze and the origins of the Subtle Knife.
Note: Though it is pure exposition, that scene was so beautifully filmed I couldn’t lose it, so I placed it as the prologue of the film. Footage from the original prologue were used later in the film for other porpuses.
- After the history lesson, I put together a brand new montage following the aftermath of the Northern Lights events. Airships are surrounding Asriel’s laboratory and Mrs Coulter is looking at photographs of Lyra. Inside the empty laboratory, we take a close look at the window through which the tear in the sky can be seen, then cut to black. A voice calls for Lyra and we see her waking up in a new world. She and Pan travel through the forrest, until they reach the city in the sky. Cut to the opening titles with the “Subtle Knife” subtitle.
PART ONE: CITTAGAZZE
- Lyra and Pan enter the city of Cittàgazze. They wonder around the empty streets until they find a cafe. There, they meet Will, a boy from another world who doesn’t have a daemon. Lyra runs away scared. While sitting by the sea, Will finds them and they agree to stay together. They search the abandoned city and find two sisters, Angelica and Paola, who inform them about the Specters, creatures that only adutls can see.
Note: As said above, I wanted to create small chapters inside the film covering the characters and their arcs at their location. So unlike Episode 1 of the series, we see Lyra and Will’s first contact uninterrupted.
- Lee Scoresby travels to meet the Witches. He tells Serafina Pekkala about his plan to find a man named Stanislaus Grumman who thinks he can help him protect Lyra. Queen Ruta Skadi arrives to inform them that the Magisterium captured a sister witch.
Note: After Lee arrives at Lake Enara, we see the Witches flying to their lair, a scene taken from the original prologue. Before Ruta Skadi’s arrival, I put a close-up scene of her flying through the rain.
- Back at Cittàgazze, Will and Lyra are chatting when they realize that there are two Oxfords, one in Will’s world and one in Lyra’s. Lyra wants to visit Will’s Oxford with the hope to find more about Dust. Later that night, the Alethiometer tells Lyra that Will is a murderer, while he reads a letter from his absent father.
At Svalbard, Mrs Coulter interrogates the captured witch, asking her about Lyra. While she is telling her about the proghecy, Queen Skadi arrives and kills the Cardinal.
Note: There were two interrogation scenes which I merged into one.
PART TWO: WILL’S OXFORD
The next morning, Will and Lyra cross the window through Will’s Oxford. At Geneva, after the Cardinal’s funeral, Father MacPhail asks for elections. While discovering the new Oxford, Lyra visits a museum where the Alethiometer tells her to find a scholar in St Peter’s Univercity. Before leaving, she meets Lord Boreal who introduces himself as Charles. Meanwhile, Will visits his mother who he has left alone. Lyra finds the scholar, Mary Malone, and tells her about Dust and the Alethiometer. Dr Malone takes her to the Cave, a machine through which she studies Dark Matter. Later on, Will and Lyra meet at the Botanic Gardens where Will tells her that he accidentally killed an intruder and now the police is looking for him.
In Geneva, the Magisterium elect Father MacPhail as the new Cardinal and attack the land of the Witches. Mrs Coulter goes to MacPhail and tells him that she is going in search of her daughter.
Note: We don’t see Boreal until he meets with Lyra. I removed the Witches talking about the Cardinal, Dr Lanselius’ trial, Mary Malone talking to her colleague , Will visiting his grandparents and Mrs Coulter talking to Thorold. It is assumed that Mrs Coulter makes the decision to search for Lyra after the witch’s interrogation, not becauese Thorold told her so.
PART THREE: THEFT
- The next day, Lyra decides to go to Will’s Oxford by herself, leaving Will in Cittàgazze. Will wakes up and searches the place for Lyra. He discovers Angelica staring at the city’s tower where she tells him about the Guild.
At Will’s Oxford, Mary warns Lyra that a detective was looking for her. A strange man finds them both and Lyra runs away before she comes across Boreal who offers to give her a lift with his car.
Back at Cittàgazze, Will finds a note Lyra left for him. Back inside Boreal’s car, Lyra tells him to stop and gets out. Sorty after she reallizes that he stole her Alethiometer. Will finds Lyra crying, where she tells him what happened. Meanwhile, Mary finds a way to communicate with the Cave.
Later that night, Will and Lyra go to Boreal’s house and ask for the Alethiometer back. He tells them that he needs a knife that is hidden in Cittàgazze’s tower and they make a deal.
Note: In this chapter the narration is shifting between Oxford and Cittàgazze for a more suspenseful viewing.
Mary Malone is not shown in her office and her meeting with the detective has been removed. Lyra doesn’t talk with him either. When he finds them in the elevator, there is a jump cut of Lyra storming out of Mary’s office, which appears like she is getting out of the elevator. Will and Lyra at the movies has also been removed.
PART FOUR: JOPARI
- In the North, Stanislaus Grumman uses a ring to summon Lee Scoresby to him and Lee finds himself above the Yenisei River. He makes his way by boat until Grumman’s daemon leads them to him.
Note: Lee’s visit at the Samirsky Hotel and his investigation about Grumman have been removed. So did Mrs Coulter’s talk with him. The scene between Iorek and Serafina Pekkala’s daemon has also been removed.
- Back at Cittàgazze, Will and Lyra are looking for an entrance to the tower. They find a door nearby and they break in. Meanwhile, Lee and Grumman (aka Jopari) talk about Lyra, the Knife and Asriel’s plans.
Back inside the tower, Will and Lyra find Giacomo Paradisi the original owner of the Subtle Knife. There, Will fights Tullio (Angelica’s brother) for the Knife and he loses two of his fingers. After waking up in Giacomo’s chambers, Paradisi teaches Will how to use the Knife to open and close windows to other worlds. Then he climbs up the tower to end his life, as his fate is complete now that Will is the new bearer of the Subtle Knife.
Note: Boreal doesn’t visit Mary’s office and Paradisi’s talk with Will and Lyra has been trimmed. Jopari agreeing to follow Lee has been removed, since it is implied later on. The Witches’ meeting has also been removed.
- In Lyra’s Oxford, Mrs Coulter meets with Boreal where he tells her that he has Lyra, before taking her to the window near Jordan College (from the first film). Lyra and Will come up with the plan to steal the Alethiometer without losing the Knife. Jopari gets into Lee’s balloon and the fly off to find Lyra. Meanwhile, Mary is finally communicating with the Dark Matter. Back in Svalbard, Serafina Pekkala attacks the Magisterium’s airship and crosses through the tear in the sky.
PART FIVE: THE MISSION
- In Cittàgazze, Will and Lyra discuss opening windows into Boreal’s house. The Angels tells Mary that she must find the entrance to Cittàgazze and save the kids. Meanwhile, Will and Lyra find Angelica and Paola mourning over Tullio, who has been attacked by the Specters, blaming them for his fate.
The same night, Will and Lyra prepare for their mission. Lyra goes to Boreal and Will cuts a window inside his house. Will tries to grab the Alethiometer, but Mrs Coulter caughts him. Lyra meets her mother and Will fights Boreal. Eventually, they both escape with the Alethiometer and the Knife.
In Will’s Oxford, Mary finds the window, decives the guard and enters Cittàgazze.
Note: Mrs Coulter’s time in Will’s Oxford has been removed. We first see her when she finds Will in Boreal’s house. The Magisterium’s meetings have also been removed, as well as any scenes with Mary in her house.
PART SIX: THE RESCUE
- In Cittàgazze, Will’s hand is getting worse, while Angelica with Paola and other children come after him and Lyra as they hide on the roof where Serafina Pekkala saves them.
Lee with Jopari also arrive at the tear in the sky and Mrs Coulter with Boreal cross the window from Oxford to Cittàgazze. Mary finds Angelica and Paola and promises to lead them to a safe place. Up in the air, Jopari talks to Lee about his family. On the ground, Serafina treats Will’s wounds.
Lee and Jopari fly above the city of Cittàgazze and Serafina talks with Will about Lyra. In the city, Mrs Coulter discovers that she can control the Specters and sends them to kill Boreal. The same night, Lee’s balloon gets attacked by the Magisterium’s airships and Lyra, Will and the Witches confront the Specters. After Lee and Jopari crash to the ground, Will wakes up from a nightmare.
Note: Mary’s time in Cittàgazze has been trimmed significantly (we first see her when see finds Angelica and Paola) as well as Lyra’s and Will’s course through the jungle. Mrs Coulter’s and Boreal’s exploration of Cittàgazze has also been trimmed substantially. I also took the liberty to create a new scene that changes parts of the narrative. Mrs Coulter doesn’t poison Boreal, instead she summons the Specters to kill him. We never see him actually dying, but we hear the Specters attacking. Later, we see him dead at the cafe.
PART SEVEN: BELOVED SON, BELOVED DAUGHTER
- On the ground, we see that Lee and Jopari have survided the fall and Ruta Skadi reports to Serafina about Asriel. Lee and Jopari have a gunfight with the Magisterium’s troops in which Lee takes a severe hit and urges Jopari to leave him. Before his last breath, he calls for Serafina. Mary leads Angelica and Paola to the safety of their parents campsite and she begins her journey. While Serafina is off to find Lee, Will finally finds his father, Jopari, before a trooper shoots him down. Mrs Coulter finds Lyra sleeping and kidnaps her, while Serafina finds Lee’s body. Voiceover of Asriel’s speech until we see him speaking to the Angels.
Note: The scene where Ruta Skadi finds the Cliff-ghast has been removed, as well as part of Mary’s journey. In the final scenes before the epilogue, some lines of dialogue have been reomved and Mrs Coulter finding Lyra has been moved right after Jopari’s death.
All three films are available through PM. Any kind of feedback would be much appreciated.