>… in The Golden Compass. I’m not picking these out because the CGI’s good (which for the most part it is) but because they’re that rare example of something that not only survives the transition from page to screen, but actually surpasses the original text.
Pullman’s central concept in His Dark Materials is that, in Lyra’s world, souls exist outside their owners’ bodies as companion animals, or daemons. It’s beautifully done in the books, but cinematically it’s solid gold – the perfect way to see inside your characters’ hearts without resorting to voiceover. The movie equivalent of subtext, if you like.
And it works in so many ways. When a character’s doing one thing, their daemon might be doing quite another – what a fabulous way to show internal conflict. When someone dies, their daemon disappears in a soundless explosion of light – their soul really has gone to another plane … or been snuffed out altogether. You even get to have a character soliloquise without it seeming contrived – they just have a conversation with their daemon.