3 March 2014

Reflections on Harry

                      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.


  1. Oh dear lord! I can't get over the fact that you would choose Merlin over Harry, it actually hurts ;) But then again I've never met a person who loves Harry as much as me. I grew up with him and he offered a world I could escape to that was far better than the one I lived in. I'll always think of Hogwarts as my second home and my safe haven. I think that goes for alot of people in the world and I think it's the reason for it's huge success. Nothing I read or watch now can give that feeling of childhood safety, obviously... But your talk of Merlin has convinced me to give the series a second chance, but I will not compare it to my Harry. As for Maggie Smith, I never had any kind of idol or famous role model except for her, I've never seen anyone more perfect for a role and I am forever grateful that she became McGonagall. But I will say this, no matter how much I love the films I can't accept Richard Bremmer as Voldemort, sorry but I just don't buy it, every part of the films in which he is in, is waaaaaay better and scarier in my head and throughout all of the films that's what really disappointed me.

    1. You seem to have hit the nail on the head. What we love as children goes very deep. Both Harry and Merlin came to me as an adult and since Merlin himself and Gwen and Arthur and Morgana are adults, albeit very young ones, I connect more with them than with the children of HP. Also the Camelot legend is one I've loved as a child, so there you have it.
      I'm so glad you're giving Merlin another try and that you're not going to compare it to Harry. Long may they both live!
      PS Do you mean Ralph Fiennes? Bremmer scarcely appeared as Voldemort, only in The Chamber of Secrets.
      PPS I'm going to finish the last book today. They are all just soooo good!

  2. hmmm, maybe, it's the weird Voldemort in the latest films I can't stand.. Get the names mixed up, it's harder when they haven't got their actual faces in the films ;)

  3. Not easy, I agree! Anyway, sometimes we just don't like the way an actor portrays the character. I thought Ralph Fiennes was plenty scary enough but I couldn't stop wondering where they put his nose...