What an astounding accomplishment. First the novels and then the films. Having just watched all eight films in four days I’m…stunned.
It is with a feeling of satisfaction that I have written and posted reviews of all of them on the blog. There has also been a feeling of frustration in trying to make proper listings of the cast. It is, as is clear to all, enormous, and they are all brilliant. Many of the actors are from the highest echelons of British film and theatre. Many of them, on the other hand, are newcomers, especially of course the children. My listings on the blog soon became chaotic. The actors/characters came and went and came again. I’m sure my listings are filled with errors. Feel free to point them out!
How did all of these people feel as they started out with the first film in the year 2000? They must have been terrified and exhilarated at the task before them. How could they know that the three leads, tiny Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, would not only start out perfect but grow and mature into the perfect young adults Harry, Hermione and Ron? They didn’t know, of course. But it happened. How could they know that the other children – Ginny, the twins, Neville, Seamus, Draco and the others would also stay with us and grow into the fully developed characters they became though their scenes were few and short? And the professors! With the sad exception of Richard Harris, who died after the second film to be replaced by an even greater Dumbledore in Michael Gambon, they all survived and stayed with us. Many of them are not very old, to be sure, but our monumental Maggie Smith was at the end of the films seventy-seven years of age and reportedly in ill health. But she has gone on to star in more film and television classics like Hotel Marigold and Downton Abbey. There are no words to describe my admiration and fondness for Maggie Smith.
One thing I have carefully avoided in the reviews is any comparison to the books. Of course comparisons forced themselves upon me last time, in 2011, in the six-month-long process of reading-the-books-and-seeing-the-films with our friend YW, but this time too I missed some of the parts that were omitted from the books and had thoughts on some of the additions. But I’m a firm believer in judging a film on its own terms and we must remember that there are many who have only seen the films and loved them without having read the books (silly them). Anyway, having read each book and then seen the film last time, I now wanted to give the films a real chance to stand on their own. I haven’t read the books for about three years. As you see in my reviews, the films stand very well on their own. And really, how could they not be vastly shortened? If everything had been used, each film would have been a hundred hours long (hmmm, wouldn’t have minded that actually...)
Much has been said and written about the Harry Potter phenomenon itself. Why is Harry Potter so deeply loved by so many millions? What is it that touches us so deeply?
Well, it has all the characteristics of the heroic saga that we, everyone, the world over, have always loved. A boy (it’s seldom, if ever, a girl), preferably an orphan being raised by nasty adults, unaware of his powers, reluctant to take on the hero role but forced to because it’s his destiny... And so on.
Furthermore, these books and films are very funny, very exciting, increasingly dark. They have a political message everybody but racists and religious fundamentalists feel comfortable with. All of these factors are necessary and they’re there.
But it all comes down to the absolute readability and seeability of the books and films. Rowling is a great writer. The creators of the films are awesome.
And in the final analysis, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Neville, Hagrid, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Sirius Black, Lupin, Bellatrix and Voldmort, and all the rest, are quite simply and absolutely irresistible.