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Monday, July 20, 2009


As promised, today I will discuss the potential longevity of the Harry Potter series, as a film series and as the novels, as well their growth and expansion through the years. I've decided to relist upcoming topics (as well as add a few new ones) so to keep myself more focused as I write these up.

  • The actors from Harry Potter and their potential futures
  • Harper's Island
  • How our lives are remembered
  • Limitations of a film adaptation
  • Work place experience versus schoolroom education
  • Social Networking
  • The constructs of family in modern society
On Friday I said I mentioned six topics, but I only had five...silly me.

Just to retouch on my topic from Friday, regarding the Half-Blood Prince. I saw it again this weekend, which somewhat changed my opinion on the matter. I plan on seeing it one more time in theaters, when it comes out to IMAX on the 29th in our area...I wonder if I could read the book before then, to refresh my memory.

So here are some new thoughts...the second time through, the pace really slowed down a bit, which benefited the whole emotional roller coaster it presented. The ending still seemed a little sudden, lacking the necessary time to truly admire the emotional loss of Dumbledore. The fact that he played a much larger part in the novels than in the movies most likely attributed to this. Also, attempting to end on a happy note ("I've never noticed how beautiful this place is") was completely unnecessary. In greater cinema context, this film is the equivalent of 'The Empire Strikes Back', but they attempted to give us the Hollywood happy ending. Taken out of context, I suppose there is little harm in this, however for the sake of the overall's crucial that the audience feels as if we have left our heroes in a bleak and hopeless situation. It was a dark film, don't get me wrong, but it had more comedy than Order of the Phoenix, which misrepresented the darkening spirits of the wizarding world. I'm going to immediately throw out the objections from purists who say it isn't like the book, or they left stuff out, because they always's part of thier jobs as screen adapters to take what's important from the book itself and make a movie that anyone, even people who haven't seen the other movies or read the books, can understand. The second time through though, because of the perceived slower pace, I was able to almost edit the film in my head to what the filmmakers put in that wasn't particularly necessary. For instance, Dumbledore asking Harry if he was interested in Hermoine in more than a plutonic way? What was that about? I suppose it sets up that Dumbledore is attempting to be closed to Harry, but it was unnecessary for the context of the film and that could have shaved a minute or two from the overall length (or put elsewhere, when the time would be more appropriately used). Also, the lack of Quidditch in Order of the Phoenix, made it's appearence (although brief) in Half-Blood Prince almost feel forced and unnatural. When did Harry become captain? Ginny's on the team? We haven't seen any Quidditch at Hogwart's since Prisoner of Azkahban - why throw it in now, for twenty minutes, at the beginning? To the overall storyline, it had little relevence. Although, Luna's lion hat is still hilarious...I wonder if I can get that as a screenshot for my desktop. Moving on...

Overall, I still enjoyed the film as a film. As an adaptation, it was decent, but it could have been a lot better. I question the filmmaker's appreciation of film context in the series versus just popping out a movie to sell to the aveage moviegoer since they know we Harry Potter fans will see it regardless.

Moving on to today's topic... longevity and growth. Anybody go back and watch the first couple of movies recently? Man - they look like amateur work versus the later films and that's not just the fact that it features ten year olds running around in robes. The CGI is nearly unbearable compared to today's work and they seemed to like to focus on the visual aspects of the wizarding world Rowling so laboriously built as oppose to the driving storylines. I will give the film makers the movies have gone on and the general overall feel darker and darker, the actual castle of Hogwarts has become less and less magical. I'm not sure if this is intentional or a mere byproduct of focusing on more important aspects of the storyline, but we no longer see moving staircases or the talking portraits, or the ghosts comically prancing throughout the film (especially the Bloody Baron who is painted as a comically evil character in Sorcerer's Stone in his brief appearance at the sorting, versus his true nature as shown in the final book). Plain and simple, I question how future generations (even those who are five and under now) will perceive the Harry Potter film series in the future. For one thing, they will likely watch the movies long before reading the books, which is of course the first cardinal sin of enjoying film adaptations...always read the book first, everyone knows that. Will the movies do the books enough justice in order to promote the reading of the series? Sometimes I think that they made the films too well into films, leaving little to entice the viewer to dig deeper into the source material. And how long will these adaptations even hold up as necessary viewing, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or the Shawshank Redemption have? These are classic films and, in the context of classic works of literature (which I would argue with anyone, the Harry Potter series will fall into given the appropriate time period), do we have appropriately classic films? As I already mentioned, the earlier movies already feel dated thanks to poor CGI and careless direction. I again mention that perhaps the best way to truly capture the spirit of the series is to start over...obviously we have to finish with the Daniel Radcliffe intrepetation, but it seems only logical. I do see a completely series remake within our lifetimes, although I'd really like not to wait twenty years for it. The fact is, they started making films before they had a true context for everything in them because the final book wasn't published until three movies were already out (three or four, I can't remember off the top of my head). They switched directors repeatedly, with mixed results. Continuity in a series like this is almost a prerequisite, and they butchered that concept. The largest flaw in this idea is, naturally, the comparisons to the earlier film's counterparts. For instance, I doubt they could find any actor capable of pulling off Snape as Alan Rickman does. Any other face in that character would seem out of place and unnatural. The same goes for Fred and George, or Luna...the casting nailed them so perfectly, it would seem an insult to the actors in question to cast someone else to their roles. That being said, the three primary actors leave a lot to be desired, but who's to say three other child actors are going to do any better? There are only so many Dakota Fannings or Freddie Highmores per generation and we used ours up already. Anyways, this is just theoretically jargon. I'm sure WB would jump at the chance to start it over again simply because of what a cash cow the series has turned out to be (deservingly so, but still...) How long, I suppose, is my question then. How long until we see it?

So what do you think? Does the series, as a work of literature, stand a chance to last the test of time? Does the film series? How do you feel about the film series, thus far, as a representation of the books? Or are they simply a film series and should be accepted as such?

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