Dafne Keen in a still from His Dark Materials.
The BBC One and HBO television series His Dark Materials is many things — a bildungsroman, a fantasy fiction, an adventure show, but above all, it is about making the choices that you believe in and finding your own identity in the process. Adapted from the books of the same name by Philip Pullman, the narrative follows a girl called Lyra, who is said to achieve greatness.
This is an eight-episode series. The first ten minutes of the pilot episode drags a bit - the story goes nowhere, and the whole thing appears to be a sad replica of a Harry Potter movie. But then I decided to wait a bit longer and was rewarded with beautiful cinematography and a promising story. However, this happened only after I had invested thirty minutes into the show. Basically, this one is a slow burner. The following episodes do pick up the pace but lack the punch of an adventure show.
In the world of His Dark Materials, humans and their companion animals share a deep, unshakable bond which binds their souls together. Lyra has a cute little companion by the name of Pan. Now these animals can speak to their human counterparts, which is one of the many delights of the show. Dafne Keen, who shot to fame with the 2017 superhero movie Logan, has been aptly cast as the naive, reckless Lyra with a deep thirst for knowledge. James Mc Avoy, Ruth Wilson and Clarke Peters play supporting parts.
For now, there are numerous questions and only a few answers. For instance, will Wilson’s character have a change of heart or is she really evil? What is the real identity of McAvoy’s Lord Asriel? How does Lyra figure in all this?
But unanswered questions function the same way as cliffhangers. And we all know cliffhangers make the audience come back for more. And I cannot wait for the second season.
Verdict: Definitely worth a watch for fantasy fanatics.
His Dark Materials is streaming on Hotstar.