Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Harry Potter Countdown

Okay, the countdown has already begun for many people, but for me, I've just been getting in the mood over the past few weeks or so. I think it's because we had decided not to go to the midnight showing, because we're going to be out of town. But, we've changed our mind and have decided to go on our vacation, now, and have our tickets, so it's starting to seem more real to me!

In honor of the 6th movie, I wanted to re-read the series. I started with The Sorcerer's Stone back in April when I had plenty of time to read them all. However, life got in the way, and I just finished Chamber of Secrets last week. (I had a really hard time getting motivated to finish CoS, I think because it's my least favorite. I understand its importance in the whole series, but it still seems the most unnecessary to me. That, and I can't stand Lockhart. Not in an I love to hate him way, I just flat out hate him.) I started Prisoner of Azkaban over the weekend, but have decided to skip ahead, thinking a re-read of Half-Blood Prince is more important. So, I read the Ministry of Magic battle to the end of Order of the Phoenix and began HBP last night. I feel sure I can finish it before the movie, but think I'll wait until after the movie to read Deathly Hallows again. I'm most excited about Deathly Hallows. I've only read it once, and I zoomed through it that one time in the 24 hours after it was first released. 

I want to talk about movie vs. book for a second in regard to the 3rd (Prisoner of Azkaban) and 5th (Order of the Phoenix) because I'm intrigued by some choices that were made. I understand the different medium of movie vs. book, and how each calls for something different, and overall I've been pleased with how the franchise has honored the story of each book in film, rather than trying to make a movie that follows the book exactly. But there are two thing I wish they would have done differently. For a long time after the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, I was frustrated with the amount of information left out of the movie about Harry's father and 3 friends. Though, I think I'm going to wait and say more about this after I've re-watched the third movie. For now, I want to move on to my second beef, with Order of the Phoenix. 

Spoiler warning: If you haven't read the fifth book or seen the movie or learned what happened, you deserve for the ending to be spoiled. I will do so below. 

In the book, when Harry returns to Dumbledore's office after the battle at the Ministry, he is outraged. He has been ignored for an entire year by one of the few adults that he has learned to trust, has been manipulated by his mortal enemy, has spent the last 10 months being surrounded by governmental authority figures who deny everything he knows about himself and Voldemort, and now has lost the one adult that he's truly begun to see as a parental figure. On top of that, he's 15. He deserves a breakdown. That scene in Dumbledore's office where Dumbledore sits patiently while Harry destroys his possessions is... beautiful. Harry's emotions are so pure and unbridled. And we learn so much about Dumbledore, about how old men make mistakes, too, and the deep love he has grown to have for Harry. I was really looking forward to that scene in the movie. But what we got was a subdued, 2 minute conversation that barely brushed the surface of the information that needed to be conveyed, much less the emotions of these characters after such a difficult experience. Again, I understand the needs of film are different from the needs and abilities of a book, but I really think we missed Harry and Dumbledore's characters when we lost that scene. It's probably one of my favorites in the whole series. 

Well, instead of re-reading the whole series, we've decided to watch the movies in preparation for the 6th one. We started with Sorcerer's Stone last night. It was... long. It was good, for the most part, but they were all young. I was watching the opening scene with Dumbledore and McGonagall and thinking, man, did they have any idea how big this was going to be when they first started? They did have a long way to go - I noticed the editing was choppy, and the characters didn't always react they way they needed to, or even have continuity in their reactions. Like, at the end when Dumbledore is awarding extra points for Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville's acts, one second Hermione is blissfully applauding with the table of Griffindors, and the next she's excitedly whispering that they're tied with Slytherin. And a lot of Hagrid's reactions are delayed, like when the goblin at Gringotts asks for Harry's key. I know, nit-picky. But I did notice it. What I noticed more is that they got better (of course), and I'm hoping to be more aware of that as we watch the next four (five!) movies.

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