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11 Things from the HDM Trailer that are Different Than the Books

July 19, 2019

WE FINALLY GOT A FULL TRAILER for His Dark Materials coming this fall on HBO and they absolutely nail so much of what we love most about the series. We’ll get into that (and do, on our podcast emergency episode, which you should listen to!). Meanwhile, here are the main things we could see that were different than what we know about the books.

 1. Mrs. Coulter and Lyra

We know that Mrs. Coulter treats Lyra like a pet in the book, but there’s a slight difference the way she speaks to her in this trailer: she outright tells her that she can teach her how to use power (presumably, the power Mrs. Coulter uses to her best effect: womanhood) but she has to let her mold her. In the books, you only get the idea that that’s the ultimate plan: here she’s being far more forthright about it and the effect is more chilling. See this image above: literally a MiniMarisa in the mirror.

2. Lyra’s discoveries at Mrs. Coulter’s Place

It seems this is how Lyra finds out about Mrs. Coulter’s involvement in a ghastly process to separate people from their daemons; in the book she finds out through a heartbreaking sequence involving little Tony Makarios.

She also doesn’t fly right into the open air in daylight in the books; she uses nighttime to her advantage there.

3. So. Much. Lord. Boreal

Lord Boreal (and his python daemon) make a scant few appearances in this book — at Marisa Coulter’s cocktail party and…that is about it. We see him later, and are to understand he’s very important to the Magisterium, but there’s quite a lot more of him in this trailer alone. Above, at Jordan (see the crow daemon, which is the Master’s, which means he’s at the college, presumably looking for Lyra after she disappears), but in a bunch of other places too.

Here, presumably arriving to the consequential cocktail party, and below:

…chatting with the Magisterium about Lord Asriel, and how important it is that the Magisterium be kept abreast of what he is trying to do and how close he is to doing it (this happens off-screen in the books).

4. Speaking of the Magisterium:

It’s already a MUCH greater presence in this series than it was in book one. It seems this series is combining a lot of different pieces of the whole series into the telling of this first part of the story. It will make the much larger, looming presence of the Magisterium less abrupt in the next two installments, so we’re in favor.

5. The Master

It’s hard to discern the Master’s motivations when we first meet him in the books: after all we open on him attempting to assassinate Lord Asriel. But here he seems painted in a warmer portrait, and even indicates that he’s doing something illegal by giving Lyra the Alethiometer (if the trailer’s context on that point is to be believed).

6. Farder Coram

Oh, hello, big FC. Nice to see ya there, all hale and hearty instead of the physically fragile/crumbling specimen described in the books. The important part about that aspect of the book is that his physical form stands in great contrast to his rich, autumn-shaded daemon, a large cat that is as lustrous and varied as its body is weakening and tired. Farder Coram is supposed to emanate great wisdom and a life fully lived, and near its end, while his mind and soul are sharp and bright and full of life.

7. The Alethiometer

It’s square! But that’s not the only difference: The show runners say that they wanted it to be more like an actual functioning compass, to tamp down the fantasy a little. It should seem less like magic and more like something moving due to forces we can perhaps understand? Okay, but as long a it gets a little snarky with Lyra sometimes we don’t mind.

8. What is Mrs. Coulter doing with a gun?

Not sure. Best guess this is a flashback to the confrontation over Lyra, though Asriel is supposed to have been the one to shoot in that instance. Otherwise, it’s a complete invention.

9. Did we say Asriel?

A: His speech to the scholars at Jordan doesn’t seem to be just a fusty, obscure, academic discussion that ends up putting Lyra asleep, as in the books, but rather is at least in part a rousing speech where he says the quiet part out loud: why he really wants to go to the North, rather than some deceptive ruse about Stanislas Grumman. Here he gives a rousing speech about the way the Magisterium is waging war against consciousness and freedom. Lots of passion and fire, which makes him at once more of a leader and less of the regal/untouchable figure he seems in the books.

B: His fight with Lyra is a lot…more vigorous? In the books he simply dismisses the idea of her traveling with him:

“But where are you going?”

“Back to the North. I’m leaving in ten minutes.”

“Can I come?”

He stopped what he was doing, and looked at her as if for the first time. His dæmon turned her great tawny leopard eyes on her too, and under the concentrated gaze of both of them, Lyra blushed. But she gazed back fiercely.

“Your place is here,” said her uncle finally.

“But why? Why is my place here? Why can’t I come to the North with you? I want to see the Northern Lights and bears and icebergs and everything. I want to know about Dust. And that city in the air. Is it another world?”

“You’re not coming, child. Put it out of your head; the times are too dangerous. Do as you’re told and go to bed, and if you’re a good girl, I’ll bring you back a walrus tusk with some Eskimo carving on it. Don’t argue anymore or I shall be angry.”

Pullman, Philip. His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (Book 1) (p. 28). Random House Children’s Books. Kindle Edition.

That’s it! He tells her no. Here it’s a loud, yelling fight, while he packs his things and Lyra stands him down.

10: Mrs. Coulter and the Monkey

There’s quite a bit of the famous monkey-jumping-on-Pan scene in this trailer, and it’s pitch perfect to what we read about in the books — Lyra with her little pocketbook, the vicious way the monkey acts… except in the books, Mrs. Coulter is very casual about this, is literally arranging flowers the whole time. Here she is…enjoying herself as it happens. Looking on. Relishing. It’s chilling.

11. Possibly the Tartars have turned into Storm Troopers or Maybe It’s Just the Unnamed Forces of the Magisterium.

Either way, looks cool.

MUCH more on the podcast. Also, we need a date when this is coming out A S A P.

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