The His Dark Materials Trilogy was a popular and critically acclaimed series of young adult novels by Phillip Pullman. It has been adapted for BBC Radio 4, a two-part play for the Royal National Theatre in London and a failed movie adaptation in 2007 with The Golden Compass. Now fans of the novels can rejoice because an initial eight-part TV series has been commissioned for BBC One.
The His Dark Materials Trilogy have collectively been adapted into 40 languages and sold nearly 17.5 Million copies worldwide. It has won the Carnegie Medal for children’s fiction in 1995 and the 2001 Whitbread Book of the Year Award. The three novels are Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the USA), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass and tells a huge story around many different worlds, having armor-clad polar bears, witches, a water-faring travelling people, soul sucking spectres, angels and animal-magnifications of human souls.
The novels focus on two characters, Lyra Belacqua, an orphan girl from a streampunk, Victorian version of Oxford and Will Parry, a boy from our world who accidently kills a man. Both end up being key to end a multi-dimensional war between the forces for and against the Authority and may be able can destroy tyranny across the worlds.
Author Phillip Pullman said “It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media. It’s been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel — and now comes this version for television.” He added: “In recent years we’ve seen how long stories on television, whether adaptations [Game of Thrones] or original [The Sopranos, The Wire], can reach depths of characterisation and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel. And the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable. For all those reasons I’m delighted at the prospect of a television version of His Dark Materials.”
2007’s The Golden Compass has impressive cast that included Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman and Eva Green, but was mired with production problems and studio interference which lead to director Chris Weltz calling the experience ‘terrible’. The studio toned down the anti-religious themes in attempt to appease religious group which resulted in annoying fans of the novels and being unable to appeal to an audience that was never interested.
The series is set to be filmed in Wales, with Bad Wolf Productions, a British/American production company founded by former BBC executives Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner and New Line Cinema running the production. Bad Wolf has recently signed a non-exclusive first-look deal with HBO.
Considering the complexity of the source a TV adaptation of The His Dark Materials Trilogy would be the most sensible approach. Hopefully it will wash out the nasty aftertaste of the Hollywood adaptation.