After hearing that certain Catholic heads had put this on their "Do Not Watch" list, I had to see the movie to find out what all of the fuss was about. I found that it was a delightful movie.
The movie is about a cheeky young girl, Lyra, who gets into the adventure of her life. She runs around all over the place. She has no interest in being labeled a lady, in fact she tells her best friend (paraphrasing: "...to take it back. I ain't no lady. Take it back or we're not best mates!"). Lyra's world is one where a person's soul lives in an animal form outside of their bodies, called demons.
Lyra is living at the university, while her guardian is off on expeditions. She is allowed a temporary holiday from learning at the university, to help a lady, Mrs. Colter; who appears like a breath of fresh air to a young lady confined within the stuffy atmosphere that she lives. Before she leaves, the headmaster visits Lyra and gives to her a golden compass, telling her that her uncle had given it to him for safe-keeping and he believes that it belongs to Lyra now, and he also told her not to show it to anyone, especially Mrs. Colton. When Lyra and Mrs. Colton head to town, Lyra finds that the rules of society with Mrs. Colton are even tighter. Mrs. Colter has a hidden agenda for Lyra and a secret life with the Magesterium, the ruler's of society. Lyra discovers that Mrs. Colter is behind that disappearance of the missing children and that her best friend's name is on the list. She runs from Mrs. Colter and falls in with the gypsums (sp?). And they are off, on to a rescue mission to find the missing children. Along the way, Lyra meets new friends and learns how to use the golden compass, which shows the truth to those who know how to ask.
After watching the movie, I still had no idea as to why the banning. The movie showcases the adventures of a girl out to rescue her friend. He was taken as part of a secret experiment of the Magesterium's to separate the children from something of their world called dust, which gave life to their souls/demons. Then they were going to raise these children to follow a certain way of thinking that did not disagree with the teachings of said Magesterium. They were going to subvert the "free will" of a new generation. The next day I talked to my sister-in-law and she said that it was because the ruling class was called the magesterium, which is also the name for the learning class of the Catholic church.
Flimsy much! Arrgg! I do not like those who ban a book "because"; makes me think of dictators, not a good image for the church in my opinion. But that's one opinion among many.