'His Dark Materials' and 'The Golden Compass' Boast Similar Premises — Are They the Same?

Given that they share a mythical premise, are TV series 'His Dark Materials' and the 2007 film 'The Golden Compass' cut from the same cloth?

Bianca Piazza - Author

Dec. 13 2022, Published 12:15 p.m. ET

'His Dark Materials'
Source: HBO

Now on its third and final season, Jack Thorne's HBO series His Dark Materials is just one of the many shows that plucked a storyline from the pages of novels. The story follows "young orphan Lyra (Dafne Keen) on an incredible adventure into a parallel world where a human's soul exists outside one's body — in the form of a talking animal," as detailed by its official synopsis.

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The fantasy series got its unique premise from the work of British author Philip Pullman, as did Chris Weitz's 2007 critical and commercial flop The Golden Compass. Considering the TV series and the film share a plot, are they the same? Is His Dark Materials a remake of The Golden Compass? Let's get into it.

'His Dark Materials'
Source: HBO
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Is 'His Dark Materials' the same as 'The Golden Compass'?

His Dark Materials is not a direct remake of The Golden Compass. However, they are both based on Philip Pullman's epic His Dark Materials trilogy.

The trilogy consists of 1995's The Golden Compass (in certain parts of the world it was published as Northern Lights), 1997's The Subtle Knife, and 2000's The Amber Spyglass.

According to PopSugar, 2007's The Golden Compass — which starred Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), Daniel Craig (No Time to Die), and Sam Elliott (A Star is Born) — was intended to be one of three films, each of which would focus on one book. Unfortunately, that didn't wind up happening (it earned a blasphemous Rotten Tomatoes score of 43 percent).

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As for the series, it loosely follows a plan of one book per season.

"Largely it's one book per season . . . [but] there are a few treats I've stolen from other books," Jack Thorne said at Television Critics' Association panel in 2019, per IGN. "The whole story of three books and how can we celebrate them in the best possible way, and sometimes that involved moving certain elements forward."

Source: YouTube/HBO
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HBO also confirmed that Season 3 — which premiered on Dec. 5, 2022 — follows the events of The Amber Spyglass.

"The final chapter of this epic fantasy series finds Lyra (Dafne Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) on a journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned. As Lyra's father’s great war against the Authority edges closer, they will learn that saving the worlds comes at a terrible price," HBO stated.

Furthermore, Mashable wrote about The Amber Spyglass's sensitive bit about planning to assassinate God, relaying that it is in fact weaved into Season 3. Controversy, shmontroversy!

So, as the series concludes, don't expect Philip Pullman's original vision to be thinned out.

Season 3, Episodes 5 and 6 of His Dark Materials premiere on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, on HBO.

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